Town Meeting Day Legislative Report
March 5, 2013
Rep. Kathie Keenan Rep. Mike McCarthy
House Appropriations Committee House Transportation Committee
(802) 524-5013 (802) 233-7587
We’re your voices in the Vermont State Assembly, and we would like to share our work and the work of other legislators in Montpelier with our constituents. As the Legislature breaks for Town Meeting week, we return home to Saint Albans and reflect on the first few weeks of the biennium.
Balancing the 2013 Budget
Budget Adjustment –
Both of our committees participated in adjustments to the FY2013 budget that were passed by the House and Senate in H.47. This work included:
- Returning $8 million refunded to the State by Hewlett Packard to the General and Transportation Funds.
- Using Medicaid and state employee health care savings in 2012 to fill General Fund shortfalls in 2013
- Balancing the 2013 budget even while revenue forecasts fell below expectations.
Preparing for Vermont Health Connect
Starting in October, Vermonters who are uninsured, on VHAP or Catamount, or insured by some small businesses will begin to move on to the federally mandated exchange called Vermont Health Connect.
Vermont Health Connect will provide:
*Easy purchasing of health insurance by individuals and small businesses online, by phone or in person during expanded office hours
*Affordable coverage for currently uninsured or under-insured Vermonters in 2014 and beyond.
Info at VermontHealthConnect.gov
Since 2006, T-fund gas tax revenues have been declining as Vermonters drive more efficient cars and carpool more. Our cents per gallon state tax of 19 cents has been the same since 1993.
With 24% of roads in “Very Poor” condition and hundreds of posted “structurally deficient” bridges across the state, we must continue to invest in our infrastructure so Vermont families and businesses can safely get where they need to go!
What’s the Solution?
House Transportation is working with the Governor’s proposal of a new percentage-based gas tax and grappling with how to keep our transportation program funded. Other proposals are being discussed and votes will be taken mid-March.
Preserving Public Trust
Pension Forfeiture Bill
We passed a bill that will enable the State to reclaim money embezzled by public officials from their pensions. This is an important step to deter fraud by public officials and make the State whole when the public trust is violated.
While local School Boards set school budgets, the Legislature uses formulas under Acts 60 and 68 to raise the revenue to support the entire system
The House passed an increase in the base rates from 89 cents to 94 cents for penny rate-payers and 1.38 to 1.44 for non-homestead rate-payers.
Education property taxes have some income sensitivity for all Vermont tax payers up to $105,000 of income. While the base rate increases are substantial, our community’s modest increase in per pupil spending, coupled with income sensitivity for most of us, means that the majority of tax payers in our community should see a smaller increase in their actual tax bills than in other towns.
Failure to pass the proposed education funding package means that the rates would automatically jump to 1.10 for penny rate-payers and 1.59 for non-homestead payers.
TIF for the Future
As Saint Albans City prepares to leverage Tax Increment Financing to build public infrastructure and increase private development, the Legislature is working on efforts to clarify state policy about TIF and make it an even more powerful tool for economic development
Working Lands Enterprise funds are already working to help farms and other value-added producers develop new businesses and jobs in Vermont. The House will be debating an expansion of this program this year.
We love to hear your comments or concerns! Please feel free to contact your Representatives or visit us at the Statehouse!