Vermonters were hopeful and ready to hear true fiscal leadership from their governor. What they heard was yet another laundry list of continued policies from the past, with no real solutions.
Vermont’s crisis of affordability is real and Vermonters, young and old, are confronting it every day. Unfortunately, it appears their pleas for relief will once again be ignored by the Democrat super-majority.
Staggering and ever-increasing property tax rates are out of control. Vermont’s education funding system is dysfunctional, unfair, and out of balance. Gov. Shumlin’s solution is to increase the statewide property tax rate by over 7%, more than twice the increase most Vermonters will see this year in their paychecks, and blame the flawed funding formula on local school boards. Vermont Republicans have proposed common sense solutions to this crisis; solutions that invest in teachers, kids, and classrooms while putting Vermont’s top-heavy and inefficient education bureaucracy on a sustainable budget.
Vermont’s chronically shrinking workforce is a major obstacle to economic growth and job creation. Unfortunately, Gov. Shumlin doesn’t consider it worthy of a mere mention, much less legislative initiatives to reverse it. The reality is that, since his last budget address alone, Vermont’s workforce has declined by 3,000 workers. The drivers of this decline are clear -- the crisis of affordability and a lack of high quality jobs in Vermont. Vermont Republicans will continue to focus on reducing the barriers to job creation and investing in policies that will make Vermont a more attractive -- and more affordable -- place to live, work, and raise a family.
In addition, lurking beneath Gov. Shumlin’s rosy rhetoric is the threat of the largest tax hike in Vermont’s history. The governor’s myopic focus on a taxpayer funded, government-run health care rationing plan -- scheduled to be fully implemented in 2017 -- is already causing uneasiness and concern in the minds of Vermonters and the very Vermont employers that we need to encourage to stay and grow in Vermont. An estimated $2.2 billion tax increase on Vermonters is even now impacting the long-term planning of our families, health care providers, and business owners. Republicans have strong and positive solutions that will provide universal access to high quality health care while maintaining patient choice and strengthening the economy. And, we know we cannot count on them.
The lopsided Democrat super-majority in Montpelier is not serving the interests of Vermonters. Vermont Republicans are listening and we’re prepared to fight for real solutions and real reforms to address Vermont’s growing crisis of affordability and reverse the impacts of the failed economic policies of the past. It’s time for a change.