Montpelier, VT – Following relentless leadership from Lt. Governor Phil Scott, Republican legislative leaders, small business owners and countless Vermonters who are struggling to make ends meet, Speaker of the House Shap Smith recently pledged to “listen” to ideas on how to grow Vermont’s economy.

No promise to act was made, however.

After 6 years as Speaker of the House, Smith said in a statement released to the press that he wants “Vermonters, employers, policy makers and stakeholders to submit proposals for economic development and job growth strategies for consideration in the legislative biennium.”

Ironically, it is the policies promoted by Speaker Smith, Governor Shumlin and their Legislature that have created the current budget crisis and stunted the growth of our still stagnant economy. Sadly absent from the Speaker’s press release was his acceptance of any responsibility for the economic crisis these policies have imposed on working Vermont families, our state’s lack of meaningful job growth or our expanding crisis of affordability.

“For years, Lt. Governor Scott and Vermont’s Republican legislators have argued strenuously for a laser-like focus on growing our economy and making Vermont more affordable, so we are encouraged Speaker Smith is just now realizing that the health of our state’s economy is the top priority for Vermonters. We welcome him to the conversation, despite the fact that he is six years late.” said Vermont Republican Party Chair David Sunderland. “We certainly hope this means their failed policies will come to an end, but hope isn’t an economic development and job creation strategy.”

After six years as House Speaker, leading the charge for unsustainable government spending, tax increase after tax increase and stagnant economic growth, Sunderland said Vermont Republicans are happy to see the Speaker finally taking some initiative. “After all, it is only through a healthy economy that Vermonters throughout the state will have the opportunities to succeed and prosper that they deserve and that state government will raise the revenue it needs to invest in healthcare, education, public safety and other essential services,” he said.

“As the Speaker solicits ideas from Vermonters, no doubt he will hear the same issues leaders like Lt. Governor Scott have championed,” Sunderland continued. “With a $90-million payroll tax on employers and a $15-million income tax being proposed by Democrats in Montpelier, only time will tell whether this is a real change of heart or simply a political flip-flop meant to pull the wool over our eyes yet again.”