At 6:15 p.m. on Friday March 28, The Vermont House of Representatives voted to pass the budget. It will now go to the Senate and be debated further before coming back to the House for final passage. While this year’s budget is the result of a lot of hard work–and the members of the Appropriations Committee should be commended for beginning to develop a budget process that looks out several years into the future–I am deeply disappointed that this budget was balanced by, once again, raising the taxes of Vermonters…and I voted “No” on both the budget and the miscellaneous tax bill. By capping the itemized deduction at 2.5 times the standard deduction, the Legislature has put further pressure on Vermonters’ ability to pay for their health care costs, donate to charity and invest themselves in their community–a reality that will continue to drive retirees, veterans and young families from our state, all in concert with making further budget decisions more difficult while weakening many of the philanthropic organizations that serve to make Vermont a better place.
It is my hope that the Senate will reverse many of these initiatives and that many of our friends and neighbors can be spared from some of the more severe of these tax increases. In a time where so many of us are struggling and businesses are closing or relocating, I think it is profoundly unfair to pass these costs on to a population that is already so over-taxed. It is also extremely imprudent to keep spending at a clip that is more than the rate of projected revenue – which this bill does.
While finding efficiencies in our government is not always easy (and rarely popular), identifying and making those necessary decisions is what Vermont’s Reps were sent here to do and, in my humble opinion, we failed to do our fiduciary duty to the people of the State of Vermont.
On Friday I submitted an amendment to the budget asking all members of the Legislature to take a 7.5 percent pay cut. As you might imagine, this initiative failed. While the savings would have been only $182,000 a year, I thought it was necessary to show some solidarity with the many Vermonters that will have to bear the burden of so many years of Montpelier’s fiscal mismanagement–and to show sacrificial leadership on this, the most pressing of issues. My wife, Lisa, and I have decided to voluntarily take the cut I suggested and I hope some of my colleagues will follow suit.
The fight continues this week. We will be taking up many bills that will have a direct impact on you, your wallets and your future. I will keep you updated and if you have any questions or concerns please never hesitate to contact me at 802-558-5153 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can count on me.