May 13, 2014



It’s Time for a Change


Montpelier, Vt. —  With the 2013-2014 legislative session now concluded, it is an appropriate time to reflect on the work that was done and its impact on the working families of our state.

The key question is this:  Are  Vermonters better now than we were when this 2-year legislative session began in January 2013.

Of the roughly 8,000 Vermonters who have dropped out of the workforce since Governor Shumlin took office, nearly 1,800 have either retired and not been replaced, left the state to look for work, or quit looking for work altogether — just since January 2013 when this legislative session began.

The total number of employed Vermonters has increased an alarmingly low one-half of one percent (0.50%) since this legislature convened.

Since this Legislature was elected, and the governor re-elected, IBM has laid off more than 500 workers in Chittenden County, Plasan Carbon Composites moved 143 jobs from Bennington County to Michigan, Kennametal announced it would close its Lyndonville plant and eliminate 80 jobs in Caledonia County and Energizer closed its operation in Franklin County.  This is in addition to the many other job losses seen in dozens of other small businesses who were forced to scale back in an environment of higher costs and lower revenue.

Undeterred by the economic insecurity facing too many of Vermont’s working families,  Governor Shumlin and the Democrat supermajority in the Legislature proposed — and passed — millions of dollars in more taxes and fees.  They also passed legislation that would increase the cost of healthcare and energy.

More specifically, Governor Shumlin and the Democrat-controlled Legislature imposed:

– A state budget that increased by 5%, more than twice the rate, or more, of growth many Vermonters are seeing in their paychecks.
– A new 5% statewide property tax increase (for a total 14% increase in residential property tax rates over the past four years)
– A doubling of your health care claims tax
– A gas tax increase of 5.9 cents per gallon
– A diesel fuel tax increase of 3-cents in July 2013
– Another diesel fuel tax increase of 1-cent that will go into effect in July 2014

Keep in mind that while they were passing these cost increases, they were also seriously contemplating:

– A bottled water tax;
– A “developed property” fee;
– A 10-cent per package tax increase on “flushable products;”
– A 16-cent per bottle soda tax increase; and
– A new plastic shopping bag tax.

In the end, Governor Shumlin and the Democrat-controlled Legislature pushed through over $5-million of new taxes on Vermonters this year alone — and they still didn’t address the state’s structural budget deficits.

The budget passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor creates a deficit of about $70-million next year.  That deficit is expected to grow to about $75-million by fiscal year 2017.  This is neither sustainable nor bearable to struggling working-class Vermonters.

Further clouding the horizon, and slowing job creation, are the Democrat’s looming — yet still secret — government-run health care tax plans.

Potential tax increases to pay for the program — which could put bureaucrats and politicians in charge of your health care decisions — include:

– Quadrupling of the state sales tax from 6% to 23% or higher; or
– More than doubling the income tax rates on all Vermonters; or
– Increasing the payroll tax — ultimately paid by workers –to two to three times the current rate; or
– A combination of these or other taxes to raise approximately $2-billion and thereby doubling the size of the state’s budget and very likely exponentially increasing the size of state government itself.

These facts reveal a very different picture than what Governor Shumlin and legislative leaders would have you believe.

At the conclusion of the legislative session, House Speaker Shap Smith (D-Morrisville) said, “We have done incredible work.”  Governor Shumlin described the session as “ of the most productive, successful sessions in recent memory.”

The laid off worker for whom the unemployment rate is 100 percent; the struggling small business owner and the thousands of working families who will need to balance their household budgets with stagnant income, higher taxes, and little hope for change from Montpelier will surely disagree with those descriptions.

For middle class Vermonters, enough is enough — it’s time for a change.

Over the course of this campaign season, Vermont’s Republicans will offer a new vision for our state and give Vermonters a clear choice.  Republican candidates will offer proposals to grow the economy and make Vermont more affordable.

With real commitments — and real, detailed proposals — to support the creation of more good Vermont jobs, we will work to increase the economic security of every Vermonter.

The Republican healthcare plan, for example, will deliver on the promise of accessible, affordable, high quality health care that increases choices for patients and keeps government bureaucrats out of your personal healthcare decisions.  Further, we will have the courage to tackle Vermont’s unsustainable property taxes and propose real reforms that preserve the quality of education in our state while reconnecting town voters with their local school budgets.

But we won’t stop there.  We will be focused.  We will be disciplined.  We will be positive.  And, most importantly for voters, we will be specific — because voters have a right to know exactly what reforms we will work to achieve in Montpelier.

Addressing the economic concerns of Vermonters — and our state’s crisis of affordability — will require new leadership in Montpelier that is both transparent and accountable to the people of our state.

Vermont Republicans will offer that leadership.  We hope you’ll think about what’s really happening in Vermont — look past the political smoke and mirrors — and give the ideas we will offer over this campaign serious consideration.   We believe Vermonters deserve better.


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