To the editor: Tom Bock’s update from Montpelier

Much has happened in Montpelier since my initial note to you starting with Gov. Scott’s annual State of the Budget Address.

For the second year in a row, his proposed budget does not increase a single tax or fee. The governor’s General Fund Budget for 2019 exceeds this year’s amount by only $82 million, (a 2.2 percent increase) for a total state spending of $3.9 billion.

Scott’s priorities continue to be economic growth, affordability and protection for the state’s most vulnerable. He is proposing non-traditional marketing programs to attract new Vermonters, as well as programs for first time home buyers, workforce development through job training and assistance for entrepreneurs to expand their businesses.

To maintain a balanced budget without any new taxes, reductions were made to community grants, early intervention, child care and disability services, though he is also proposing investing in initiatives such as children’s dental health; additional family help for opioid abuse; and expansion for mental health outreach and community-based preventive health care. Long term stable funding for cleaning up the state’s waters was not addressed and continues to be an unresolved issue.

Separate from the General Fund is the Education Fund, which is funded primarily with property taxes. Paying for the K-12 education will be more challenging than ever with a projected increase in property tax of 7 percent. The governor has proposed a memo of ideas to avoid these property tax increases such as a cap on per pupil spending and increasing the number of students per staff member through attrition.

The House Ways & Means Committee is currently working on a proposal to change the way in which Vermonters pay for education. The new plan would shift part of education financing from the property tax to a newly created dedicated-to-education income tax. Under this plan, revenues from the new income tax will make it possible for school districts to reduce school property taxes by one-third and allow for the elimination of the income sensitivity provision. The non-residential property tax would continue as is.

Whether this proposal will be ready to debate and vote on this session is still up in the air.

Nearly 1,000 people turned out to offer arguments and testimony for and against proposed gun legislation at a public hearing at the Statehouse.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is now reviewing the House approved bill (my vote included) that would allow police to temporarily remove guns from the scene of an alleged domestic violence incident.

Another legislative proposal argued at the public hearing is a universal background check law for all gun sales, which would require all private sellers of secondhand guns to run the names of purchasers through the national database.

My committee, Agriculture & Forestry Committee, recently brought the Rural Enterprise Development Bill (H.663) to the floor of the House. It passed unanimously and is now on its way to the Senate. The bill will prohibit municipal regulation and oversight of certain farm-based accessory enterprises. These farm enterprises provide additional income that can make a difference in the survival of our small farms.

As always, I welcome any questions, opinions, thoughts or concerns you may have on any legislative issue. You can contact me at tbock@leg.state.vt.us or tmbock@vermontel.net or feel free to call me at home at 875-2222. I look forward to hearing from you.

Rep. Tom Bock
Andover, Baltimore,
Chester and North Springfield

 

 

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  1. Chris Walker says:

    I am very happy that this is being posted for better access to what is going on. There are two things that jump out at me – first, that someone would say only $82 million and second, a 7% raise in property tax. I like the fact that there will be no new taxes. I am guessing that means no new taxes but there will be increased rates for some current taxes? Anyway $82 million is A LOT of money. So please don’t say “only” in front of that unless you giving me only $82 million.

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