The Vermont Legislature was called back to Montpelier on Wednesday of last week but most of the heavy lifting will take place this week and potentially next. The budget and tax bill were initially supported by members from across the political spectrum and many have asked me why then, would the Governor veto the budget and tax bill and call a special session to resolve these matters?
The answer is pretty clear to me. Had the Governor allowed the budget and tax bill as passed by the legislature Vermonters collectively would have seen their property taxes increase by over $33 million this year. That alone is the reason why I opposed the budget and tax bill and why I support the Governor’s veto on these bills.
Vermont’s affordability crisis is not just a talking point for me. It is an issue and principle that drove to me to seek public office and to continue my service. The challenges facing my generation of Vermonters from finding good paying to jobs, to realizing the dream of home ownership and supporting a family are rooted in the need to make living in Vermont more affordable and doing what we can as a State Government to reduce the cost of living in Vermont.
For the past two years The Scott Administration has been clear on their principle governing philosophy to not raise taxes or fees. There have been a number of ideas on how to reduce the costs of State Government by modernizing it and making it more efficient. There have also been a number of proposals together to do the same with our public education system in Vermont. Some I have agreed with and some I haven’t. What I have continued to support is the vision that we can do better; we’re spending enough across State Government to meet the needs of Vermonters and that we honestly don’t need to raise taxes of fees. In fact – between economic growth, changes to the federal tax code and some tobacco settlement money, we have seen revenue increase by over $150 million this year alone.
There is a tax-first culture in the legislature and if it hasn’t been clear in the past this budget showdown should make it so. It’s easier to say, “Oh we will just raise taxes or a fee to pay for that” than it is to say “how we can do this better?” The Governor and the legislative minority, including myself, have pushed the majority for two years as to how we can work together to answer the question; how can we do better?