All the latest news, press releases, and commentary from Heidi E. Scheuermann.

The 2017 Vermont General Assembly adjourned its legislative session on May 18, 2017.

Frankly, that day’s adjournment was a very disappointing end to an otherwise relatively good legislative session.  And, as most who know me know well, I don’t say that lightly. 

I have spent years frustrated by the ever-present desire by the Democratic legislative leadership to simply raise taxes and fees on our hard-working Vermont families and businesses to pay for unsustainable increases in state spending.  Thankfully, this year was different.

With two weeks left in the 2017 Legislative Session, it is time for Vermonters to really start paying attention.  After all, this is the time that just about anything can happen.

The most recent dust up came late last week when the Vermont NEA, the statewide teacher's union, blasted Governor Phil Scott for working with the Vermont School Boards Association and the Vermont Superintendents Association to develop and propose a new Statewide Health Benefit for teachers and school employees that will provide $26 million in savings to Vermonters.

The proposal would create a new Vermont Education Health Initiative (VEHI) plan for school employees that would cost substantially less than the current plans, while ensuring that all teachers and school employees would not pay more.  In the end, the proposal would save Vermonters $26 million to invest in other priorities.

As expected, two weeks ago, the Vermont House passed a Fiscal Year 2018 Budget that does not rely on any new or increased taxes and fees.  As I said at the time, I don't recall the last time I voted for a budget – it certainly has been years if I have – but, I was pleased to lend my support to it this year.

My goal throughout my years in the House has been to start to rein in our state spending and live within our means.  I have long felt that we can create responsible state budgets that increase investments in certain areas, find efficiencies in state government and its programs and services, reduce spending where responsible, and protect the most vulnerable – all without raising taxes and fees.  And, while I probably would have made some different decisions in this particular budget, the Appropriations Committee has started us down the path to fiscal responsibility.