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Legislative Notes for January 31, 2013

January 29, 2013

The Governor presented his budget Thursday afternoon to the legislature. The proposal was intriguing to me and caused concern amongst many of my colleagues. The 1.37 billion dollar budget has several positive ideas but continues to grow spending in excess of inflation. I will work with my colleagues and the Governor to try to find some common ground on ways to reduce spending while protecting the people that need the help most.
The Governor proposed some welfare reform as part of the budget that will limit benefits for people who receive state assistance for more than five years. I believe that this is a fair proposal and should help to curb the rampant abuse of our welfare system. If implemented, this proposal will likely result in substantial saving for taxpayers for years to come. The proposal is not intended to hurt people that really need help. However, it will force people to go back to work rather than accepting welfare benefits for a lifetime. I support this concept and hope that the legislature will pass this change in law this session.
One portion of the budget that causes me concern involves the creation of a thermal efficiency program to assist low income Vermonters with insulating their homes. I feel that this new program is duplicative of the successful Vermont Weatherization program that has been in existence since the mid 1970’s and has helped thousands of people over the years insulate their homes. Further, the state received and invested over $20 million of federal stimulus dollars in the weatherization program over the last two years. I question how much more the state needs to spend in this area to get the greatest return on our investment. The new program would be funded by a creating a new tax on the sale of rip-off tickets by non-profit groups.
There will be much more to report on the budget as we proceed through the session.
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 email address is dturner@leg.state.vt.us. My web-site address is http://www.donturnerjr.com. Thank you and have a great week.

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