This commentary appeared in Vermont Business Magazine on February 6, 2017
Many Vermonters probably had mixed reactions to the nomination of Betsy DeVos as US Education Secretary. On the one hand, she is espoused as a proponent of school choice which is prized by many of our rural communities. On the other hand, Vermont lead the country in rejection of Donald Trump last November (by 28 points). Nearly every single one of his cabinet choices have drawn criticism, but none have drawn quite the ire that DeVos has. Most of this opposition has come from teachers unions who represent public school educators, and Democrats who believe DeVos plans to gut public schools across the country. They may not be wrong.
Email blast sent to supporters February 6, 2017. Subscribe here!
It was another week of legislative lunacy as lawmakers grappled with Governor Scott’s budget proposal, which suffered its first defeat on Tuesday when the Senate Education Committee voted 6-0 against pushing school budget votes out to May 23rd. The real blow, however, came later in the week when the House torpedoed the proposal on a 47-87 vote.Read more
Vermont is one of three states in the country with no ethics laws for public officials. Campaign for Vermont Prosperity has spent years advocating for these needed changes to demand the best from our elected officials. Vermonters deserve to know that their public officials are acting in their best interest, and not being influenced by conflicts of interest.
Here are some facts about ethics reform in Vermont:Read more
Email blast sent to supporters January 29, 2017
The big splash this week was Governor Scott’s budget proposal that is slated to transfer $50 million in liabilities to the Education Fund and mandates level funding from school districts. This plan drew immediate fire from teachers unions, school boards, and legislators.Read more
Email blast sent to supporters January 22, 2017. Subscribe here!
Governor Scott is planned to give his first budget address on Tuesday, ethics legislation is poised to pass out of the Senate Government Operations committee on Wednesday, and this week is National School Choice week with 21,000 events across all 50 states. Students at Vermont independent schools are submitting mannequin challenge videos to promote what is unique about their school; $10,000 in scholarship money is available to schools with the most unique videos.Read more
Much of Montpelier is still in a holding pattern waiting for the Governor’s budget address to set the tone for the rest of the legislative session. This will give legislators a starting point for their legislative priorities. If there are any issues in particular that you are interested in learning more about, let us know!
What happened this week:
- Testimony continued in the House Government Operations Committee over contested elections and how the Secretary of State should deal with recounts. There were a few very close elections this past legislative session that called into question the process for recounts and declaring election winners.
- State Treasurer Beth Pearce introduced a water-cleanup proposal that would levy a per-parcel fee. This is expected to yield $25 million per year and would cover about half the cost of water cleanup programs over the next 20 years. This proposal was considered in both the House Ways and Means Committee, the House Committee on Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife, and Senate Committee on Natural Resources.
Senate Government Operations Testimony
Ethics Legislation Relative to S.8 - January 11, 2017
My name is Ben Kinsley, Executive Director of Campaign for Vermont Prosperity (CFV). For those unfamiliar with CFV we are a non-partisan research and advocacy group working to reconnect middle-class Vermonters to their government and generate prosperity for ALL Vermonters in every corner of our state. We have a network of 20,000 people across Vermont and advocate for a wide range of policy issues that focus on progress ahead of partisanship. You can learn more about our vision at CampaignForVermont.org.Read more
Email blast sent to supporters January 10, 2017
Last week kicked off the 2017 legislative session with much pomp and circumstance. As new leaders in the House, Senate, and Executive Branch took up the torch. Peter Shumlin gave his farewell address and Phil Scott and David Zuckerman were sworn in as Governor and Lieutenant Governor.
The real work begins this week as legislators settle into their committee assignments and bills begin to be introduced on the floors of the House and Senate. Money committees will begin getting briefings from state agencies in preparation for the Governor’s budget address in a couple of weeks.Read more
The opening week of the 2017 legislative session, a group of independent legislators wrote a letter to the State Board of Education (SBE) calling for an investigation into board member William Mathis who is employed by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) and receives funding from groups like the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
Because both groups have a direct interest in many issues that come before the SBE this poses a conflict of interest and a potential violation of the Executive Code of Ethics which Mathis and other board members are supposed to adhere to. We are calling for an investigation into Mathis’ conduct...Read more