I apologize for sending this legislative wrapup so late! I was cut military orders early last week and after the session ended late Saturday night I had to rush home, pack and be at Camp Hinds in Raymond, Maine for muster on Sunday afternoon. I had hoped for better wifi and cell phone service but we’re pretty deep in the woods out here. However, some creative traveling has found me a Dunkin Donuts with wifi (and hot coffee).
Last November Vermonters sent a clear message that the status quo no longer worked for them. They said that their government needed to get to work returning Vermont to a sound and sustainable fiscal path, and redouble efforts to make Vermont a more affordable place to live and focus on growing our economy so that the next generation of Vermonters will have more opportunities than we have had.
The 2015 legislative session is over. Even though I was a green freshman representative I was very proud of the efforts and hard work that I and many of my colleagues put forward this session. We rolled up our sleeves and worked hard to make a real, tangible difference. However, I readily acknowledge that we were unable to accomplish many of the things Vermonters like yourself so clearly asked for. Even with the best efforts, Vermonters will pay higher taxes and the setbacks for a fiscally responsible state will continue.
Our biggest problem going forward is that our General Assembly has employed a continuing policy to spend more than the state takes in. Our state government has also maintained a policy of making Vermont a disproportionally large employer while not encouraging the private business sector to succeed.
Vermont has a proud, matchless history of being a caring state that is always eager to answer the call of the needy. While it is imperative that we protect our most vulnerable we must provide a responsible path to let Vermonters grow into self-sufficiency. It is degrading to not offer Vermonters the prospects to work and raise the quality of their lives by not providing jobs and opportunities.
I am deeply disappointed that a budget passed that grew state spending by more than projected economic growth. This budget was more of the same and leaves us anticipating a budget gap of nearly $70 million next year.
We reached our taxation breaking point years ago.
The time has arrived for Vermont to return to its core ethos of being an independent land that is unapologetically pro-business, smart with its money and simplistic when it comes to its government. All along the way, myself and my colleagues put forth alternatives for budgetary requirements — alternatives that would have re-prioritized state spending and not raised taxes.
And while much effort was expended trying to tackle our education funding mess, meaningful and longterm progress wasn’t achieved.
We all deserve better. Being here on orders this Memorial Day weekend has served to remind me anew of the immense privilege our residents have afforded me to be able to serve both my nation and state at the same time.
I am so humbled by the trust you’ve placed in me and I will, come hell or cold winter, continue to fight for our region’s demands for a more affordable Vermont and sane state government.
You can count on me.
Job Tate, State Representative, Bridgewater, Chittenden, Killington, Mendon