On Governor Shumlin’s $5 BILLION Budget

From Pat McDonald, Chair of  the Vermont GOP:

I wanted to share with you some of the observations made by Republican legislators following the Governor’s budget address earlier this week.

Clearly, this is not a “fiscally conservative” budget – it proposes that the State’s overall appropriations exceed $5 BILLION for the first time in our history!

Here’s Senator Peg Flory on the increased spending:

“It’s a little disturbing that it’s still up 5.1 percent over last year. I’ve been trying to run quickly through the numbers and I’ve come up with from what he said in the speech another $60 million going into the budget. I haven’t found where that money is coming from.” (source: VPR)

Representative Oliver Olsen pointed out that the Governor seems to be setting up local school boards to take the heat for possible school tax increases . . . a situation made worse by changes made to the State’s education funding formula last year:

Rep. Oliver Olsen, R-Jamaica, bristled that Shumlin would direct blame for any tax increase at local boards. Olsen argued that Shumlin “last year engineered a change in the state education funding formula. He is trying to run away from the reality that he laid the ground work for a property tax increase that will hit Vermonters this year.” (source: BFP)

Lastly, Senator Randy Brock’s gubernatorial campaign put out the statement below, advising that we should all be alert to the things the Governor DIDN’T say – like how much his health care plans will cost and how his energy vision will impact Vermont ratepayers. Here’s the statement:

“Our state has always been Vermont Strong, but we now need to be Vermont Smart.

“Governor Shumlin’s budget address today fell short on that score, and during his address I was struck by what he DIDN’T say.

“He didn’t talk about health care, even though we will spend significant amounts of money this year moving towards his single payer dream. Just today I saw a request for proposals issued by the Green Mountain Care Board to buy public relations and marketing services from a firm that had experience in ‘message control.’ When the Legislature passed Act 48 last year, I don’t remember it including a Department of Propaganda. The proponents of this legislation argued we would save huge amounts by cutting out insurance company advertising and marketing . . . and the first thing this board does is go out and look for an advertising and marketing firm to spread its message. I don’t think Vermonters expected their tax dollars to be used in this way.

“The Governor didn’t talk about energy, despite the fact we will be spending money today – and huge amounts tomorrow – to achieve his renewable energy vision. He didn’t mention that according to the Public Service Board, Vermonters will pay an additional $300 million to $450 million over the next 20 years in higher rates.

“He talked about collapsing supervisory unions to save $9 million in education spending, but what he didn’t say is that this represents just 6/10ths of one percent of the State’s education budget. Over the last decade, per-pupil education spending has increased 149.9% . . . while enrollment has dropped a little over 18%. Total education spending has increased every single year since Act 60 came into being, and if the best we can do is 6/10ths of one percent, then clearly we are not doing a very good job controlling education costs.

“This budget marks the first time in history that Vermont’s overall appropriations will exceed $5 billion. On top of that, the general fund will grow by over 5%. During this time of austerity, spending more and more money will not help us grow Vermont’s economy and create new jobs for Vermonters – to the contrary, it sends the message that it is ‘business as usual’ in Montpelier.” (source: Brock campaign release)