On Monday afternoon, the Joint Fiscal Office (JFO) walked the House Appropriations Committee through a fiscal note of H.850, which would remove the 5% property tax cap in Act 127 and replace it with a step-down mechanism to phase in the property tax hit from 2025 over the next five years. They were unable to calculate the impact of repealing the previous transition mechanism because of its “complex and circular nature,” but the new mechanism will cost the Education Fund $30M in FY2025. JFO pointed out that the property taxes will need to absorb this cost unless another funding source can be found.Read more
Tom Golonka (Chair, Vermont Pension Investment Commission) introduced himself to the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday and noted that the portfolio has done well when compared to pension plans in other similar states. Vermont has always been in the top quartile when the market was both up and down. He highlighted S.42, which is a bill that was passed out of the Senate last year and is currently in the House. The bill proposes to require the Vermont Pension Investment Commission (VPIC) to review the assets of the three retirement systems to determine the extent to which they are invested in the fossil fuel industry and submit plans to divest from the fossil fuel industry by 2030.Read more
The Vermont State Ethics Commission presented a $210,353 budget to the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday, plus its annual report for 2023. Christina Sivret (Executive Director, Vermont State Ethics Commission) noted that the Commission received fifteen complaints (a 400% increase), twenty-nine complaint inquiries (a 163% increase), four advisory opinion requests (a 100% increase), and twenty-five guidance requests (a 19% increase) in 2023.Read more
Two different House committees reviewed S.39 on Monday, passing the bill quickly to get it back to the floor in time for Friday adjournment. The bill encompasses significant increases in salaries for legislators, an entirely new benefits package, and more generous expense reimbursements. Proponents claim it will make legislative service more accessible to members of the public by moving compensation more in line with median wages across the state.Read more
- In 2016, Governor Scott joined other states in committing Vermont to meeting goals of the Paris Climate Accords.
- In 2020, Vermont passed Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA). The GWSA sets the mandates for greenhouse gas reductions, established the Climate Council to come up with the Climate Action Plan (CAP). The Clean Heat Standard (CHS) is the primary thermal sector solution for the CAP.
Sibilia claimed that Vermonters wanted them to act on climate, citing a poll that says 76% support climate action.Read more
Robin Lunge and Jessica Holmes, members of the Green Mountain Care Board (GMCB) presented the history and overview of the GMCB to the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday. Holmes introduced herself stating that she is an economist and has been a member of the Board for eight years. She explained how the uniqueness of health care justifies the extensive government oversight through laws and regulations. In most markets, transactions involve only a buyer and seller, but in health care there is the presence of third parties, including insurers as well as the role of government.Read more
The House Appropriations Committee met to review H.480 on Wednesday. The bill proposes to remove municipalities from the property reappraisal process and require instead that the Division of Property Valuation and Review within the Department of Taxes conduct full and statistical reappraisals on behalf of all municipalities in the State.Read more
The workforce development bill, H.484, was presented to House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday. The makes several appropriations for programs that educate, train, and help businesses hire and retain workers. It also includes appropriations for forgivable loan programs, scholarships, degree and certification programs, assistance to businesses and other miscellaneous proposals to enhance workforce and economic development opportunities in the state.Read more
The House Appropriations Committee reviewed the FY2024 budget for the Vermont State Colleges (VSC) on Tuesday. Representatives from VSC shared that in 2020 the state asked them to close down three of their campuses to address a structural deficit of $25M per year. In response, they formed a committee and created a plan to reduce the operating deficit by $5M/year for five years.Read more