Letter, Op - Ed, Opinion

Enough is enough!

 

By Rep. Pattie McCoy

Editor’s note: Pattie McCoy, Rutland – 1, is the House Republican Leader. 

Today, [March 28] the House Republican Caucus is sounding the alarm. The supermajority is off the rails, and out of control. And Vermonters have had enough. Vermonters are struggling. They are stretched thin, trying to make ends meet. They have been stressed for years with Vermont’s already-high cost of living. Inflation has made things even more difficult. And this supermajority has made it even worse.

As a reminder to Vermonters, last year, they hiked your DMV fees by 20%. We know Vermonters are already feeling that. In July, Vermonters will begin to pay the supermajority’s $100 million payroll tax. Our residents are facing a historic property tax increase. The governor, along with House and Senate Republicans, have warned this was coming for years.

We have supported solutions. But this supermajority has said no every step of the way, and now Vermonters are facing a property tax fiasco. Last year, they also approved the so-called Clean Heat Standard. When implemented, it could cost families and employers thousands of dollars more per year to heat their homes and businesses. And, they have not stopped there.

As Representative Mark Higley stated, “We should be considering the cumulative effect of our actions and mandates on Vermonters, such as passing the Global Warming Solutions Act, the so-called ‘Affordable Heat Act,’ which would add $.70 or more to a gallon of heating fuel, and the Renewable Energy Standard Bill.”

This year, they approved the Renewal Energy Standard, which was written by, and for, the utilities and special interest groups, who stand to gain the most.

It will cost Vermonters hundreds of millions on their electric bills. Representative Gina Galfetti noted, “The Renewable Energy Standard (or RES) bill was passed by the supermajority despite stiff opposition. The bill was written by and for the utilities and special interest groups, the very groups that will benefit most from its passage. Instead of fully vetting a proposal of $164 million, by the Public Service Board, we passed the RES plan that will cost upwards of $450 million more.”

Doing things like this behind closed doors does a disservice to Vermonters. It flies in the face of transparency, and it is done to hide from press accountability. How else do you explain a committee being hit with an additional $131 million, in new taxes and fees on Thursday late morning and voting it out of committee on Thursday afternoon? $131 million folks!

Representative Scott Beck stated: “Now, we are told by the supermajority that we need to increase taxes another $131 million by increasing personal income, corporate income and property transfer taxes. These taxes will chase even more Vermonters and businesses to other states, and make it more expensive to purchase a home for those that remain. We are told that it will only impact a relative few. We need everybody, especially the 1% that are paying 35% of all Vermont income tax and bring philanthropy and economic vitality to Vermont. Vermont corporate income tax receipts have tripled in the last 10 years due to state tax policy, federal tax policy and corporate profits, and now we are told that we must increase the top tax rate from 8.5% to 10%, which will make Vermont the highest in the nation. This makes no sense.” 

The supermajority is sending a message to businesses: we do not want you, or your jobs, here. 

Meanwhile, today [March 28], they are moving forward with H.687, a land use bill, which will make it more difficult to build homes in the vast majority of the state. As Representative Ashley Bartley stated: “The House passed House Bill 687, touted as a housing bill, although it is fundamentally not. I would even argue that it constitutes an anti-housing bill. H.687 seeks to reform Act 250 land use jurisdiction in a manner that disproportionately penalizes rural Vermont, making development nearly impossible in these areas. Any legislation that hinders housing construction and sustainable growth cannot rightfully be classified as a housing bill.” 

We have a housing crisis.Vermonters are demanding action.

As the governor has said, we need to make it MORE affordable, and FASTER, to build housing. This bill does the opposite. Especially for rural communities. I know the leadership of the supermajority is from Burlington. But this bill does great harm to rural Vermont. 

Representative Ashley Bartley noted, “As committees neglect to prioritize funding requests, beneficial programs like the Vermont Housing Improvement Program (VHIP) suffer reductions in their appropriations. Despite the governor’s initial $6 million budget proposal for VHIP, the allocation was slashed to $1 million, likely spelling the end of the program by early January next year. VHIP boasts a commendable track record, having brought 535 affordable housing units online statewide since 2020, with an additional 386 units in progress. It is imperative that the supermajority’s excessive spending does not result in the demise of programs that have effectively addressed the housing crisis.” 

Many of my Democratic colleagues represent rural communities that would be harmed by this bill. The question is, will they side with their own constituents? Or will they side with their political leadership?

Vermonters elected our governor to look out for THEM. Republicans, Democrats and independents sent him here to Montpelier, to offer balance, fiscal discipline and common-sense leadership. He won in every single House district.

Our caucus will continue to support his affordability plans and pro-housing agenda. We’re calling on our moderate colleagues across the aisle to do the right thing, and do the same. Put their constituents over politics.

And to all Vermonters: We are also asking you to help restore balance to the State House. Our caucus hears you. The governor hears you. We will continue to support you. We desperately need a moderate, pragmatic majority here.

Because again, this supermajority is out of control and off the rails. This week, they will pass a bill to make Vermont the highest corporate tax state in the country. They did this with no real testimony, which leads us to ask, who is writing these bills?

Representative Scott Beck states: “In the last 10 years Vermont personal income tax receipts have increased 54%, sales tax has increased 65%, property taxes have increased 53%, and corporate income taxes have tripled. All of these increases dwarf the economic growth, inflation, and wage and salary growth during the same period, by a lot. The only metric they haven’t exceeded is Montpelier’s insatiable appetite for spending increases. Vermont government has all of the revenue that it needs. What we don’t have is spending discipline. Vermont doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem, a big one.”

We hear you. And we know you have had enough. Please, hold your representatives accountable. Now and in November.

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