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Legislative Notes for January 19, 2011

January 15, 2012

There has been a lot of activity in Montpelier this week culminating with the Governor’s speech outlining his budget proposal for FY13. This is usually when things really start to get interesting in the session. Most of the speech pertained to addressing the issues caused by Tropical Storm Irene and the rest dealt with balancing the budget. There were few items that I would consider controversial presented in this year’s proposal. However, I was quite surprised by the number of very important items that were not mentioned in the proposal. The speech was well attended but it did not get the kind of warm response from the crowd that others I have attended in the past have received.

Tropical Storm Irene wreaked havoc with Vermont and Vermonters. It also gave the Governor and the legislature an opportunity to improve our state government and the many services it provides. The Governors proposal lays out his plan for our recovery. I support some of his plans but, I want to ensure that every Vermonter will be able to rebuild their home and every community affected will be held whole. I feel that the legislature will have to do some additional work in this area before I can support the current proposal.

There were many items in the Governor’s proposal that I may support after the details are presented. Items such as reforming the permit appeal process, converting the Commissioner of Education to a Secretary position reporting directly to the Governor, fully funding teacher and state employee pension funds, more funding to Fish and Wildlife for their programs which have been severely underfunded and some changes to higher education.

It was very obvious that the Governor decided to not mention Healthcare reform, energy, agriculture and education reform in his budget address. Last year these areas were highly touted in his budget address. These were the areas that were to pull the state out of recession and make Vermont a leader. We have a new law on healthcare reform but we still do not know how much it is going to cost or who is going to pay for it or how it is going to be paid. Agriculture is Vermont but we have seen a steady decline in this area. Energy and education costs are rising steadily with no mention of how to address either of them. The Governor proposed several new initiatives last year that produced very little in the form of outcomes. The only measurable outcome was the one new state agriculture department employee.

One of the things I enjoy most about serving in the legislature is hosting friends and constituents at the Statehouse. On Tuesday our State Champion Girls varsity soccer team visited the Statehouse and their accomplishments were recognized on the floor of the House. If you would like to visit the Statehouse please feel free to contact me to arrange a date and time.
I look forward to representing you and your concerns in Montpelier. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments or concerns. I am very interested in hearing from you. During the session, I can be reached at the Statehouse by calling 1-800-322-5616 or by cell at 373-5960. My e-mail address is dturner@leg.state.vt.us. My web-site address is www.donturnerjr.com. Thank you and have a great week.

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