Montpelier– Republicans responded to Governor Shumlin’s budget address with great concern. “Again this year the Governor is proposing a budget that includes spending above and beyond the state’s current projected revenue capacity, depletes reserves, relies on more federal dollars and utilizes one-time revenue sources to balance. Further, he recently called upon our local school districts to limit their spending to 3%, yet today he is proposing in excess of 5% or $70 plus million in new spending. Proposing a budget that exceeds the growth of Vermont’s economy and the paychecks in taxpayer’s wallets is bad policy and is not financially sustainable.” Stated House Minority Leader Don Turner R-Milton.
Over the last ten years general fund spending has grown at an average rate of 3.6%. However, during the Shumlin era we have seen significantly higher spending levels without the revenue to support it. These spending trends can be found on a chart created by the Legislative Joint Fiscal Office and located athttp://www.leg.state.vt.us/jfo/appropriations/fy_2014/FY09-FY14%20Appropriations.pdf. (See page 34). This trend does not bode well for the future of our state and its economy.
We are also very deeply concerned about the Governor’s proposal to implement an 8% tax on all health insurance claims and no indication on how to curb the unsustainable increases in education property taxes. This $14 million of new tax is proposed to pay for the operating costs of the Vermont Healthcare Exchange after federal funding ends.
Republicans will work this session to reign in general fund spending, reduce the states dependence on federal dollars, grow reserves, address the pension fund shortfalls, improve eligibility systems to reduce federal penalties, and continue to seek finite details on the Governors initiatives such as healthcare reform and pre-kindergarten education.
The well-being of Vermonters is at risk here. It’s our job to represent their interests as we promised; Vermonters deserve it.