Vermont House passes another budget bill on to Senate

Michael Bielawski/TNR

REACHING FOR COMPROMISE – Rep. Scott Beck, R-St. Johnsbury talks about an amendment to the budget which will not raise taxes while attempting to satisfy other initiatives.

MONTPELIER – A budget bill similar to what has already fallen once to Gov. Phil Scott’s veto pen has been passed again out of the House, by an 80-to-43 count, and is headed to the Senate chamber to be taken up on Thursday afternoon.

The governor’s office was quick to issue a statement expressing disappointment.

“In a year where the state has $160 million more in revenue and a surplus that’s expected to grow this month, Governor Scott has been clear he will not sign a budget or tax bill that result in increased taxes, including statewide property tax rates,” Rebecca Kelley, the governor’s spokesperson, said.

Some differences in budget bill H.13 from the one that was already vetoed is that it does not set property tax rates, it does not include cost-containment for education spending, and it does not determine the fate of $34.5 million in surplus funds.

Supporters of this budget say they would like to settle these other matters in another bill, H.4. Critics argue that were H.13 to become law without nonresidential property tax rates set, there could be a default increase of 5.5 cents.

Another primary issue of contention continues to be what to do with $34.5 million. The governor wants to use it to pay down the tax rate, while Democrats want to use it to pay down pension fund liabilities.

According to Kelley, the governor was willing to listen to other ideas that shared his goal of no new taxes.

“While he continues to advocate for this plan, Governor Scott has also been open to alternatives that achieve these goals. Over the first three weeks of the Legislative special session – called to address this very issue – four options to bring us closer to agreement have been put forward.”

One of those options was considered just before the budget vote. The House considered an amendment by Rep. Scott Beck, R-St. Johnsbury, which deals with education spending. His amendment would create a base spending amount of $13,200 for per-pupil spending, and for every dollar spent over that amount an additional cost would be assessed. The more money spent over the threshold, the higher the percentage of the penalty.

His amendment also would take anticipated additional revenue as tax breaks for school districts that participated in Act 46 mergers, which will phase out over the next four years.

Rep. Janet Ancel, D-Calais, chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, said they voted against it by a 9-1 vote.

“Our committee has real concerns about the impact on higher spending towns,” she said of the spending threshold.

She also suggested that using one-time money to pay down the tax rate was poor policy.

“Most members feel that if we do use one-time money that we should not be making provisions for paying that back, particularly over a long period of time,” she said.

Rep. Patricia McCoy, R-Rutland, was among the first to comment after the budget vote.

“After two weeks of the special session, we have done nothing to work toward a compromise with the governor,” she said. “We have now passed a bill that does nothing to prevent a government shutdown.

“In fact, passage of this bill continues the two-week trend of spinning our wheels and accomplishing little other than an expected veto. When will we get down to the real business required of us in this special session, that is costing Vermonters tens of thousands of dollars in raising taxes?”

Rep. Samuel Young, D-Glover, also commented.

“This is the budget we already passed, setting the controversial bits to the side, so that we can fund the government while we deal with this seemingly intractable issue of funding the school budgets that our communities voted for,” he said.

In the governor’s response to the budget passage through the House, he highlighted other failed amendments that he could have supported but they failed at the Statehouse. One of them was offered by Rep. Cynthia Browning, D-Arlington, which was to put money into paying off Act 46 tax incentives and it holds property taxes flat.

Two others were the “The Minority Compromise” which is a combination of proposals to achieve property tax reform and cost containment, and “The McCoy Amendment” which was similar to Browning’s amendment.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at bielawski82@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR

14 thoughts on “Vermont House passes another budget bill on to Senate

  1. A major part of the surplus was obtained by eliminating and limiting deductions and by shifting the tax base from federal taxable income to federal adjusted gross income (a much larger base), a lot more income taxes are being raised from higher income households, especially with those households selling stocks and more paying capital gains taxes; so-called “PENNIES FROM HEAVEN” according to Margolis.
    I would call it “state-legalized-plundering” from the very households that:
    – Save and invest
    – Create jobs
    – Make the near-zero, real-growth Vermont economy grow.
    – Pay lots of taxes.
    The “pennies from heaven” money should be returned to the people as TAX REBATES, otherwise it will just be frittered away to fill various budget gaps, and implement Dem/Prog priorities for favored constituencies to get more votes.
    True, jobs are created, but they are low pay, often temporary, and have near zero benefits.
    That is better than nothing, but not much to crow about.

  2. One thing I am glad Vermont doesnt allow is Ballot Petitions. The decision to not allow Mob driven Ballot petitions may have been one of best things the States Founders did because it prevents the rowdy noisy mob organized by Ideologues, demagogues to force not convince people to go along with their agenda. Dont get me wrong though all the designer Leftist Ideologies & parties like Liberals Democrats, Socialists, so called Progressives, & Communists are represented well in the State Legislature these days to the point where the hundreds of thousands Republicans, Conservatives, Constitutionalist, Independent Conservatives, & Constitutional Libertarians voices are outright ignored. Liberals, Democrats, Regressive wait I mean Progressive legislators say one thing during election season to voters with their fingers crossed while planning to push their divisive virtue signaling hateful anti American agenda regardless of the head nodding in agreement us voters get! Just look at all the feel good Gun Control legislation, and I say that because some of the stuff they passed was already Federal Law that Vermonters have abided for years. All that legislation that was rammed through this spring that has done nothing to harden Vermont’s schools against armed attack from crazy people, and has done zero to make schools safer kids through protection, screening, & site hardening. The kid, that was used as an excuse for more Gun Control by out of state anti gun groups & as @Mike said by flat-landers who move here and bring their liberal Leftist ideology with them & try to force it on everyone, had those serious charges thrown out by the Vermont Supreme Court. Just the Legislatures excuse tells me they were just waiting for an excuse to pass non sense do nothing for kids safety legislation so they can pat each other on the back, & move on to raising more taxes and fees.

    • Bingo…..I think many have good intent to help people with the social policies, but it’s bringing the same trap and seduction that’s in our cities. It breaks up the family and responsibilities, fosters bad behavior and takes away hope by blaming the society.

      On top of that Vermont makes it almost impossible to climb the ladder, because the first few rungs are way too expensive. We have no industry, high paying jobs, and housing is too expensive only because we make it that way. We could easily have 3 bed homes for $600/mos. But Vermont’s socialist way is to trap people in assisted living or offer a fancy shed on a landscape trailer and call them tiny homes. Meanwhile the socialists line the pockets of their developer buddies, easy permits for them and the tax payers foot the bill for their luxury accommodations. Yes their accommodations on new construction are vastly superior to what most normal people have for a home.

      So this grows the socialist, dependent class and continues to break up rather than support the normal family structure that supports our youth waiting to start families and keeping the men productive rather than thrashing out violently.

      Is Chicago better from 60 years of socialist policies? Is Vermont better? DCF can’t keep up with the dysfunction we are fostering through bad policy. Good policy would lead to fewer rather than more issues. Vermont is following the wrong plan.

      • Tom, it’s like feeding wild animals.We are told repeatedly not to do it by the experts because it causes the wild animals to become dependent on humans for their survival.

        Politicians (Dems/Progs) think they’re doing the people a favor by giving them all these social benefits. Free this, Free that. The problem is the wild animals (People) become dependent on them and they can’t fend for themselves.

        The Dems and Progs think they are doing the right thing,being helpful, but they are just holding the people back making an entire segment of society completely dependent on them. Sad really.

  3. This is a staged act, they want this. If they do nothing our taxes go up and they don’t have to make any decisions. Very clever huh?

    On top of that they can both claim victory by standing up to the other side and also blame it on the other party.

    This is a perfect example of how they play us and don’t work for us.

    • I keep hearing the Dems reminding everyone that communities approved their school budgets – and if those increases are on the low end, it means the State has to make up for it . . . it’s the peoples’ fault. Now I read in this piece above that the poor beleaguered Dems are just trying to support the budgets we voted for! We basically have no choice, year after year. We balk at 10% so they cut it back and we cave, because . . ..do to otherwise is to be a hater of children and teachers. I’m so sick of this.

      • Rachel,

        Here is the thing with voting for school budgets in Vermont.

        70% of Vermont folks have their property taxes paid for by someone else. Last I checked it was close to $200 million is shifted on to someone else.

        Keep that in mind for a moment.

        Why do stores put items on sale? To make you think you’re getting a good deal, right? Sometime’s it true, other times the markup is so high that even the sale price sounds good but it’s really not a good deal. People end up buying the items, after all it’s on sale. Right? If it didn’t work, stores wouldn’t do it.

        Now back to property taxes: That $200 million is like putting a big “for sale” sign at the ballot box for school budgets when folks go to vote. They think they’re getting a good deal regardless because they see the big adjustment on their tax bill. Why not vote yes? After all I’m paying a discounted rate, it must be a good deal.

        So the system is rigged to cause the price for a education in VT to be the highest in the country, and the VTNEA has you hooked on the sale price of education because someone else is giving you a nice discounted rate.

  4. If neither change their position, the money problem for both of them is solved, our taxes automatically go up! And yet both sides will be able to claim victory and blame the other, it’s a perfect political storm such that both sides get re-elected for doing nothing and our taxes go up to boot!

    I suspect neither will change, on purpose. These are the games played on purpose, all the time. We’re looking for Smart, Kind-Hearted, Frugal Vermonters to help right our listing ship. We bringing independents and those truly wanting to lead Vermont together. Look us up on Facebook, Green Mountain Party. This nonsense has to stop.

  5. By eliminating and limiting deductions and by shifting the tax base from federal taxable income to federal adjusted gross income (a much larger base), a lot more income taxes are being raised from higher income households, especially with those households selling stocks and paying capital gains taxes.

    So-called “PENNIES FROM HEAVEN” according to Margolis.

    I would call it “state-legalized-plundering” from the very households that save and invest and create jobs and make the near-zero, real-growth Vermont economy to start growing again.

    That money will just be frittered away to fill various budget gaps, and implement Dem/Prog priorities for favored constituencies to get more votes.

    True, jobs are created, but they are low pay, often temporary, and have near zero benefits. That is better than nothing, but not much to crow about. Each person needs two of these jobs to make ends meet.

  6. If they ran their own business, they would be belly up in 6 months. Where do we get them? They keep get elected by former lib/prog flat landers.

  7. @ C Henry

    “Where do we get these fools, they just don’t get it !!
    They can’t be that stupid……………… No New Taxes.”

    “If these incompetent fools worked in any other business,
    they would all be fired”

    The answer to your first question is the majority of elected representatives are originally from states other than Vermont,aka flat landers.

    As to the second,as far as myself,there isn’t a current representative or the governor that has earned my vote but have earned my scorn and I will vote accordingly,they are Fired.

  8. Where do we get these fools, they just don’t get it !!
    They can’t be that stupid……………… No New Taxes.

    If these incompetent fools worked in any other business,
    they would all be fired ………….we must be the stupid ones
    for voting them in !!

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