Weekly State House Newsletter – Staff Changes, Budget, Education Spending

We've got some exciting updates in our first newsletter of 2016!

Staff Changes; 
First, some staff changes at Campaign for Vermont.

We are sad to lose Cyrus Patten, our top staffer, to MAYDAY.US , a cross-partisan campaign to fight big money corruption in politics. Cyrus has served Campaign for Vermont well and we wish him success. Luckily we are not losing him completely. Cyrus will remain with us as a Campaign for Vermont Partner and support our efforts in such key areas as ethics reform, an area where Campaign for Vermont has pushed the ball near to the finish line at the state house.

I have assumed the role of Campaign for Vermont’s Policy Coordinator. A former longtime public service lawyer for the State of Vermont, first with the Attorney General’s Office and more recently at the Agency of Education, I will be on site at the state house, tracking legislation of interest and advocating on your behalf. I am excited by our mission and fully committed to Campaign for Vermont’s nonpartisan approach to positive change in how we are served by our state government. 

Budget; Speaking of the state house, there is a lot going on and not much of it is good. The House has passed a 2016 budget adjustment which pushes state dollar spending up another $28.4 million for a total increase of 5.5%, or $114.7 million over the fiscal 2015 budget. Further the 2016 budget adjustment is again build upon a number of “one time” funding sources that make the 2017 fiscal year budgeting  process even more difficult.

Unfortunately, Governor's Budget Proposal for 2017 offers more of the same imbalance. Courage, of the kind displayed by former governors like Dick Snelling, Howard Dean and Jim Douglas who spoke the truth about state spending and brought common sense to the table, is sorely needed.

Education Spending: In another important area, education spending, Act 46 is turning into the quagmire that Campaign for Vermont predicted last fall while property taxpayers have been thrown overboard. The “spending caps” for 2017 have been so weakened by their recent amendment as to be worthless and have been completely removed for 2018. So much for the expressed concerns of property taxpayers last election. We must demand of our legislators that they not go home this session without passing viable property tax relief. Or else!!!!!

Power Alley: The types of problems profiled above are the by-product of bi-partisan dysfunction. Democrats, Republican and Progressives have all failed to offer effective measures to address Vermont’s affordability crisis. However some legislators have more clout than others. The Speaker and Senate leaders appoint some of their peers to important Committees where key decisions are made. From Campaign for Vermont’s perspective, these power committees include in the House: Appropriations; Ways and Means; Education and Government Operations. In the Senate the power committees are: Appropriations; Finance; Education and Government Operations.

A new service for our Campaign for Vermont Partners and Members will be the regular distribution of information about how the members of these  “power” committees vote on important legislation that comes before their committees. We call this “Power Alley” and it will be designed to both inform our membership and enable you to communicate your satisfaction or dissatisfaction regarding specific votes.

As you can see from the above, there is a lot going on that affects you. By now you must know that Campaign for Vermont provides you with valuable insight into how state government works for you or against you. Campaign for Vermont, with your help, looks to change how the legislature handles taxpayers’ money. There are reasonable and responsible solutions to our current problems such as these we’ve offered in the area of health care. Campaign for Vermont will not just finger point the problem, but offer ideas and support the common sense ideas of others to bend the spending curve.

We need your support and donations so we can continue our work during this critical legislative session and election year. A contribution of $50 or $100 dollars would be greatly appreciated and well used. We do recognize that not all of our supporters can afford this so a donation in any amount is valued. Thank you for all of your past support. Please renew that support with a donation

And visit us on Facebook.

I look forward to working with and for you,

Barbara Crippen
Policy Coordinator
Campaign for Vermont

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