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Legislative Notes for January 23, 2014

January 19, 2014

The Governor gave his budget address this week. His plan grows state spending $70 million dollars again this year, relies on $30 million in one time money and depletes most of the states non-restricted reserves. I support some of the items he has decided to focus on such as increasing funding for highway projects and programs to address the opiate addiction. However, I remain very concerned about the large spending increases we have seen during the Shumlin era and hope that the legislature will reign in some of this spending. I know that our paychecks are not growing on a percentage basis as much as this spending plan is and will do my best to keep Vermont affordable.

One issue the Governor did not address specifically is how he plans to deal with the proposed 10% increase in your education property taxes which is on top of the large increase last year. This 10% property tax increase is based on Vermont school districts budgets increasing no more than 3% over last years spending. Should districts get voter approval for budgets that exceed the 3%, then we are likely to see greater than a 10% increase in your education property taxes. As a result, it is important for everyone to scrutinize our local school budget but, keep in mind that no matter what happens locally we are going to see a significant increase in our education property taxes again this year and likely for years to come. The state needs to start reigning in statewide school spending and develop a new financing plan as soon as possible.

This week we had a number of people from Milton visit at the Statehouse. On Thursday, I had the pleasure of attending a ceremony that highlighted the success of Vermont’s farm to school food program. Milton School District has been a leader in promoting locally grown foods being used in our schools. Milton Middle School student Mikayla Mullen spoke about the importance of knowing that some of the food she eats at school comes from Jim Ballard’s vegetable farm where she works in the summer. She was accompanied by her mother Evelyn Mullen, Jim Ballard, and school district food director Steve Marinelli. On Friday, we recognized the Milton Varsity Girls Soccer team for their 2013 State Championship. The group of girls were able to stay for an additional few hours this year which gave us some time to tour the Statehouse and introduce them to Lt. Governor Phil Scott as well as many other Statehouse dignitaries. I find hosting constituents to be one of the best parts of this job.

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 www.donturnerjr.com. Thank you and have a great week.

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