As has led the Vermont politic news over the past two months, the legislature and Governor Phil Scott are at an impasse with regard to the Fiscal Year 2019 State Budget and a potential 5.5 cent statewide property tax increase to pay for K-12 education.

To be clear, for the second year in a row, I voted for the FY 2019 State Budget as it passed out of the House of Representatives.  It is a responsible budget that increases slightly the spending over last year, while making some small investments where needed, and protecting the most vulnerable.  Additionally, for the second year in a row, it doesn't rely on any new or increased taxes and fees.

That said, a challenge has arisen with regard to the State Budget now, as it is now incorporated with a tax bill, which if approved now, would increase property taxes on all non-residential property by 5.5 cents.  This increase is unacceptable to Governor, so he has vetoed the budget ... twice.

Like many, I am disappointed that we remain at this impasse.  But this potential 5.5 cent increase on non-residential properties is not just a tax on second-homeowners and non-residents.  In fact, 57% of the non-residential property in this state is owned by Vermonters.  This kind of tax increase - at a time when we have revenues coming in well above target - is not something that should advance.

Now that we are near the end of the Fiscal Year, however, I am very hopeful that the legislative leadership will finally sit down and negotiate in order to come to a resolution that will ensure this tax increase doesn't go into effect.

All of this said, I will reiterated my oft-repeated concerns about education funding:  it is exceptionally disappointing that we are in this position year year in and year out.  For years, it has been clear that the education funding system is broken and beyond repair, unsustainable, and unfair.  Yet, throughout that time, legislature after legislature, and administration after administration have failed to advance any meaningful reform to the system.  In this regard, we have continued to fail the people of Vermont, and we end up in the situation in which we have founds ourselves now. 

You can be sure that I will continue my effort in this regard on behalf of the community of Stowe, and of all Vermont families and businesses.

With regard to budgets in general, we have begun these last two years to put into place sustainable and responsible state spending, and I have been pleased to have been able to vote in favor of the budgets.  With louder and louder calls for increased spending and new state programs, however, we must do all we can to ensure the trend we have begun continues.

Rest assured, I will also do all I can to ensure that happens.