Power Alley: What’s Another $48 Million? Fees, Taxes and Spending

Here’s how members of the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Appropriations Committee voted on increases to fees (H. 872), taxes (H.873) and the 2017 budget (H. 875). These two “money” Committees are the Power Alley that set the stage for fellow House members with regard to the development of the budget and the taxes and fees to fund it. The votes on these three connected bills did not split along party lines.



In 2011, the state budget was $1.874 billion, exclusive of federal fund spending and school district approved spending from the education fund.  For the 2017 budget just passed by the House, the comparable spending level is $2.452 billion for a six year increase of $578 million. The associated annual growth rate is 4.6 percent, a rate more than twice the 1.9 percent rate of inflation and well above underlying economic growth in the Vermont economy.

If one includes education spending growth since 2011, another $203.1 million brings total growth to $781 million.

Now imagine if there had been another set of state house leaders who more tightly managed state spending since 2011 while still allowing reasonable increases, say at a 2.5 percent rate. If so, the 2017 state budget would be $310.2 million less than that recently approved by the House. That’s a lot of added burden on Vermont’s private economy already experiencing anemic growth. The incremental creep and toll on the private sector of unsustainable budgets, year-after-year, does add up.

To balance the 2017, the House needed to raise new taxes and fees of over 48 million. Yet, they try to message this major increase as a "cut" , but those who will pay these higher taxes and fees will actually feel the “cut” in their family budgets and bottom lines.  Here’s a profile of the deliberations on the House floor as the budget passed.

It’s an election year. Be sure to let your legislators know what you think of their budget management. These three bills have now moved to the Senate for action. Contacting your state senators regarding taxes, fees and state spending might help shape their votes on these bills. Here are links to the “money” Committees in the Senate.

Senate Finance:

Senate Appropriations:

Be Well
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