Small Business to Administration and Legislature Tell Us Where the $9.6 Million Goes after Catamount is Repealed

Press Release:

Montpelier (April 10, 2012 ) – The Shumlin administration and the Legislature should specify how $9.6 million in small business tax revenue will be spent even though the program for which it is collected will no longer exist, said the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) today.

“Small businesses opposed vigorously the passage of Catamount Health Plan from the beginning because the numbers didn’t work,” said Shawn Shouldice, who serves as NFIB’s Vermont State Director. “Now the program is going under because it is unsustainable just like we predicted but policymakers in Montpelier intend to leave in place the tax on small businesses.”

Catamount Health Plan provides a rich set of health care benefits for certain Vermont citizens and is financed in part with a tax on employers – the Employer Assessment, which raises over nine million dollars.

“First, it’s objectionable on its face that small business owners will continue to be taxed even though the program that the Employer Assessment funds will disappear,” she said. “But there is an accountability issue here that is disappointing. No one in the administration or in the Legislature will tell us why the tax will remain or how the money will be spent under new scheme.”

Shouldice said that the administration and lawmakers owe it to small business owners to justify the tax or scrap it altogether

“Right now it’s a tax in search of a program,” said Shouldice.

Shouldice pointed to comments made by Anya Rader, Chairwoman of the Green Mountain Care Board, who recently said that Vermont is testing the limits of the federal law in terms of how far they can go.

“Having federal dollars to do it makes it absolutely worth trying. But what if they don’t,” asked Shouldice. “It looks like they will continue to burden small businesses to make their new scheme work for the short-term since the Supreme Court decision isn’t due until June, well after the Vermont legislature adjourns,””.

She said that Vermonters who rely on Catamount deserve to know what’s coming as well.

“If you’re a Vermonter on Catamount now, watch out there’s a new ‘deal’ coming soon – a system with lesser benefits, higher cost and your local neighborhood small business will be funding it.”

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National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB/VT) is the voice of small business with more than 1,800 members across Vermont. For more information about NFIB, please visit www.nfib.com/vermont.