Montpelier- Republicans heard from Vermonters over the campaign this past summer and fall that they cannot sustain the annual increasing cost of living in our state. Our House Caucus will introduce and support legislation that will secure a more affordable, prosperous, safer, and healthier Vermont.
First, Vermonters need to understand that these annual budget gaps have been self- inflicted by the Democrats. Our caucus and everyone else familiar with sustainable and responsible spending have been predicting this year-after-year. This reckless fiscal mismanagement by the Shumlin Administration and large Democrat majorities in the legislature is reflected by the growth in the annual budget gap which has grown from just over $20M in his first year to just under $100M this year.
The creation and expansion of programs, increasing dependence on additional federal dollars and the use of one-time money (reserves) to balance the budget has become the norm. The Democrats have created an enormous problem that will take a lot of discipline and reform to reverse. And it is critically important to our economy and working families that they have the courage and fiscal discipline to reverse this course without raising the burden of taxation on working Vermonters and employers. We need to hold the line on spending and taxes. We cannot support raising taxes on these hard working people who are already struggling to make ends meet. We must balance the budget by reigning in spending this fiscal year.
Our caucus proposed a 3% growth rate in spending each of the last three years. If the majority would have gone along with this and the state budget had grown at just 3%, instead of 5.45% there likely would have been over a $150M SURPLUS instead of this $99M budget gap! These unsustainable budgets were passed even though they knew that the growth in revenue was projected around 3% and the underlying economy was only growing only at 1-2%.
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. The rescission last fall did help to reduce spending as we had called for in opposing last year’s budget proposal. This structural deficit as referred to by the legislative joint fiscal office does not bode well for the future of our state and its economy.
This isn’t the first we’ve heard the Governor talk a good game.
Republicans will work this session to reign in general fund spending, reduce the states dependence on federal dollars, grow reserves, address the unsustainable cost of education and related property taxes, address healthcare affordability and access problems including Vermont Health Connect, promote regulatory reform to incent economic growth and prosperity and to start the process of cleaning up the states waterways to include a sustainable funding source.
The well-being of Vermont and its residents is at stake. We have heard our constituents concerns on the campaign and are committed to working with the majority to address these issues. Vermonters deserve a more affordable, prosperous, safer, and healthier Vermont.