Shumlin inches closer to the House Democrats on taxing and spending

by Robert Maynard

On March 29th a Caledonian Record editorial was posted on this site, which offered the following speculation on Governor Shumlin’s expressed opposition to higher taxes: “There is absolutely no doubt that the Democratic Legislature will increase the residential educational property tax rate by five cents. There is no doubt that the Democratic Legislature will raise gasoline taxes to replenish the Transportation Fund. And there is absolutely no doubt that Gov. Peter “no new taxes” Shumlin will sign both of these measures into law.

On the same day, another article was posted here about how GOP Minority Leader Don Turner was leading an effort to call Governor Shumlin’s bluff:

Is Governor Shumlin trying to have his cake and eat it too when it comes to taxes.  In other words, is he trying to get credit from the voters for opposing tax increases, but still get the benefit of the support these increases will supposedly provide to his spending schemes?  We may be about to find out as House Republican Leader Don Turner of Milton appears ready to call Governor Shumlin’s bluff.  According to a recent Burlington Free Press article, tax opponents in the Vermont House have the votes to sustain a veto if Governor Shumlin is really serious about his opposition to tax increases.  Representative Turner purposely dd not load the tax bill down with amendments that would divide the opposition:

Turner explained that his caucus chose to voice its opposition to the tax bill, but not offer a raft of amendments trying to dismantle it in order to solidify rather than splinter opposition to the package.

“This allows us to show the governor there was enough opposition,” Turner said, referring to 51 votes needed to support a veto. “If he thinks it is that bad and he decides to veto it, there are enough votes to sustain.”

While Governor Shumlin has not yet fully capitulated to the House Democrats on their excessive taxing and spending proposals, he does appear to be inching in their direction.  His movement in the direction of the House Democrats was noted in this Vermont Digger article: “Though Gov. Peter Shumlin found not much to like in the House spending plans, especially the accompanying revenue bill that raises $27 million in new taxes next year and $32 million the following year, he has capitulated on several items that lawmakers have heavily criticized.”

This situation bears watching as Governor Shumlin has up to now tried to distance himself from the highly unpopular tax hikes proposed by House Democrats.  How far will he go in his capitulation to their agenda of excessive spending and taxing?  While pondering this, keep in mind that there still has been no talk of how he intends to pay for the additional $1.6 billion that that will be needed to fund his health care scheme.  If the public thinks that the tax hikes being proposed now are excessive, they have not seen anything yet.  Will the negative reaction, that we are seeing now, to high taxes turn into a full scale tax revolt?