by Rob Roper
As the full Vermont House of Representatives was about to take up the tax bill, Republican leaders confronted the press with charts and facts that they believe should be central to the debate.
Regarding all the noise about hard choices and painful “cuts,” Minority Leader Don Turner (R-Milton) pointed out, “The truth is that spending has increased. So that myth, as it has been told to you over the last several years, that the legislature has been cutting and reducing spending during this period, is not true. There have been agency and department reductions that we all know about, and thanks to the cooperation of our VSEA and state employees, we’ve achieved savings in labor and department areas, but overall, spending has increased.”
Turner produced a chart that showing how the overall budget has actually grown 7.6 percent since 2008 even though revenues have declined, and the budget Governor Shumlin proposed increases spending by 2 percent.
Turner also pointed out that our current budget woes were exacerbated by the override of Governor Jim Douglas’ budget veto two years ago (an effort led by then Senate President Pro Tem, Peter Shumlin). “Without that override, we’d probably be back in the black this year.”
As for the strategy the minority Republicans will take with them onto the floor, Rep. Kurt Wright (R-Burlington) summed it up, “I think we’re going to tyr to help Governor Shumlin keep his promise to taxpayers when he said that he would not raise taxes…. Republicans are going to try to help him keep that promise.”