Montpelier, Vt. – House Republicans united Friday to oppose a procedural move by the Democrat majority to expedite passage of a bill that would have modified Act 46. With no time to discuss the changes proposed by the Senate with their constituents, and facing a property tax increase, Republicans refused to suspend rules. Democrats failed twice to side-step the minority and then adjourned until Saturday, January 30, 2016 at 12:01 a.m.
Representative Patty McCoy, R-Poultney, had this to say, “I believe our rules have provisions so that, in the event of an emergency, we, as a body, can suspend those rules in order to deal with a crisis or an emergency. In this particular instance, there is no emergency. School boards have been working on budgets since October. They have done due diligence, following Act 46, a new law. We cannot continue to ‘change horses in the middle of the stream.’ This body passed Act 46 7 months ago!”
“As a town clerk for 25 years,” she continued, “my job is to post the warning, which includes the school budgets, by Sunday, January 31st. School budgets have been warned. They have been posted. They have been sent to the printers. That train has left the station!”
“Without an imminent emergency, we should not be suspending rules,” McCoy said. “As a freshman legislature, I want to make sure I have all of my facts and figures correct; and that means talking to my school boards, talking to my superintendent of schools, and talking to my business manager. I was not afforded that opportunity today and it is a disservice to my constituents. I am forced to vote on a bill without gathering as much information as possible. We should have waited until Tuesday to vote this bill. This would have given all of the legislators time to process the bill, talk to their constituents at home, and come back and listen to what other legislators have learned in their talks with their constituents.”
The Vermont House of Representatives passed S.233 early Saturday morning. The roll call vote to modify Act 46 will allow for increases in education spending and raise property taxes across Vermont.
“It’s more important to get this right than to get this right away. This is not procedural nonsense, as some have said. It’s the right thing to do,” said House Republican leader Don Turner, R-Milton.