Madam Speaker, Mr. President, Mr. Chief Justice, Members of the General Assembly and fellow Vermonters.
Three weeks ago, I shared with you my agenda for the session ahead, and my vision for the future of our state. A future filled with endless potential, a growing workforce, a stronger economy, and where no Vermonter must look elsewhere for prosperity.
I’m confident, together, we can make this future a reality.
But that success is dependent upon restoring our fiscal foundation, having the courage to confront the challenges we face and spending only what Vermonters can afford.
Today I present to you a balanced budget that makes strategic investments to grow the economy, make Vermont more affordable and protect the most vulnerable.
And for the second consecutive year, it does not raise taxes or fees.
In the past, we’ve set spending levels based only on revenue projections, without considering wage growth or whether spending is growing faster than taxpayers can actually afford.
So last year, I asked my administration to develop a Growth Rate Calculation – a six-year rolling average of wage growth to ensure the state budget does not grow faster than wages. This year, that growth rate is 2.36 percent.Read more
Yesterday, Governor Scott delivered his 2018 State of the State address highlighting the progress of the past year and strengthening his commitment to growing the economy and making Vermont more affordable, while protecting the most vulnerable.
Last session, Governor Scott presented, fought for and signed a budget that did not raise a single tax or fee for the first time in memory. He drew a line in the sand and said the state budget would not grow faster than wages, which means state government actually helped Vermonters keep more of what they earn. In addition, over the last 12 months, Governor Scott and his administration closed a budget gap of nearly $60 million. He also reduced education costs by $13 million in order to keep statewide property tax rates level for the first time in more than a decade.
His housing package (the most substantial investment in new housing in state history) will deliver 600 additional units of housing that working families can afford; employ 1,000 Vermonters; help attract new workers to the state, and generate $10 million in wages.
A few other key highlights from the past year include: the expansion of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts to help communities encourage private investment; the expansion of downtown tax credits; additional funding for the Vermont Small Business Development Center; investments in tourism and marketing; tax exemptions on forestry products; and alterations to the telecommunications permitting process...among others. These pro-growth investments are an important step toward a stronger economy and more opportunity to all four corners of Vermont.
The Governor provided leadership on the opiate crisis, by supporting the expansion of the “hub and spoke” treatment model that has substantially reduced, and in some areas eliminated, waiting lists for treatment. Also, over the course of the past year, the Governor’s PIVOT program worked to rethink and reform processes in state government to make them more efficient and effective. Just one example, one team streamlined construction permit applications, improving average turnaround time by 30%. There are currently 44 more of these projects underway.
And Governor Scott is just getting started!Read more
My top three priorities are growing the economy, making Vermont more affordable, and protecting the most vulnerable. Last year I insisted on a budget that did not raise a single tax or fee – for the first time in many years. Today, as understandable concerns around property taxes continue to grow, I wanted to confirm for Vermonters that ***my Administration is absolutely committed to preventing taxes and fees from increasing again this year, so families can keep more of what they earn***. This includes property taxes. Reports suggesting otherwise are incorrect. My Administration will not support putting more of a burden on already over-taxed Vermonters because we know that is not how to make Vermont more affordable for families and businesses.
The cost of state government, and the per pupil cost of education, should not grow faster than wages and underlying economic growth. That’s how we can ensure we’re helping families be more economically secure, move up the economic ladder and save for the future. If the costs of state government are rising faster than wages and economic growth Montpelier is, in effect, pushing people down the economic ladder. That is not acceptable to me, or to an overwhelming majority of Vermonters. That’s why, to be clear, my Administration is committed to preventing taxes and fees from increasing again this year, including property taxes.
The Vermont Education Health Initiative (VEHI) recently reported that educator health insurance premiums are anticipated to rise 7-16% in 2018, with official rate increases still subject to Vermont’s Department of Financial Regulation.Read more
ICYMI: Thanks to Liberal Lawmakers & Union Bosses, VT Teachers Face Double-Digit Health Insurance Rate Hikes
Teachers & Taxpayers Would Have Saved Millions Under Gov. Scott’s Plan
Berlin, VT—The Vermont Education Health Initiative (VEHI) has announced that school employees will face monthly premium increases ranging from 6.4% to 17.2% — in large part due to far-left lawmakers and the NEA’s drastic efforts to kill Governor Scott’s education health care savings plan.
Under Governor Scott’s VEHI plan, health care contracts for educators would have been negotiated at the state level; leveraging a unique opportunity to, in part, avoid the“Cadillac” tax on insurance plans. Not only would this proposal have achieved savings, but would have simplified contract negotiations, avoided cuts to school programing, and protected collective bargaining rights.Read more
Montpelier, VT— Facts are frequently ignored by Speaker Johnson and the far-left “government knows best” elitists within the Vermont Democratic Party.
In a recent interview with the Rutland Herald, Vermont’s Democratic House Speaker Mitzi Johnson tried to take credit for a package to expand housing options working families can afford, stating that “a $35 million housing bond that will help construct new affordable housing is an area of success that will hopefully lead to more cooperation on other challenges facing the state.”Read more
Once again we are called to action to help our brothers and sisters in need. Hurricane Irma has devastated and continues to devastate many parts of the South including Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
The Vermont Republican State Committee urges and encourages you to extend a helping hand to our fellow Americans in need by contributing to one of the following charities:
The Red Cross
Reach Out America
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Habitat for Humanity
The Humane Society
Operation Blessing International
Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies
Thank you for your generosity and may God bless everyone affected by these tragic hurricanes.
James Ehlers, the first Democratic candidate to challenge Phil Scott in the 2018 election, is quoted by VPR as saying voters in the next election will have grown tired of “that whole ideology of Republican thinking that says if people just work a little bit harder, then they’ll succeed, and everyone who isn’t succeeding, it’s because they’re lazy.”
Mr. Ehlers is not the only Democrat politician who imagines Republicans think like this, and I do hope they all continue saying such things; it is so 1950s. They will eventually learn today’s Vermont Republicans actually believe that if working Vermonters are not succeeding, in most cases it’s because Vermont’s very liberal government has planted a regulatory stranglehold on the economy and dug deep into everyone’s wallets with too many taxes. A few examples will suffice:Read more
Democrats & Progressive Lawmakers More Out-Of-Touch Than Ever
Berlin, VT – In a bizarre demonstration of political tone-deafness, liberal lawmakers in the Vermont House and Senate are pushing, yet again, to create a taxpayer-financed health care system as a first step to single payer health care.
Yes, this is the same system that Peter Shumlin abandoned.Read more
On my first day in office, I issued an executive order defining the top goals of my Administration: Growing the economy, making Vermont more affordable, and protecting the most vulnerable. We are laser-focused on these priorities and they guide us in everything we do.
That’s why we’ve concentrated on government modernization and efficiency, rethinking and revitalizing our approach to economic development, transitioning to a cradle-to-career education system that is the best in the nation, strengthening our response to the opioid epidemic, and making sure state spending isn’t growing faster than wages or the economy.Read more