Budget committee agonizes over $14 million in cuts
Gov. Peter Shumlin proposed a 5 percent budget increase in January, which included $14 million in new revenues and an array of spending initiatives. As the deadline for the Big Bill in the House approaches, it has become clear that lawmakers have no interest in raising taxes for new spending.
Earlier this month the House Ways and Means Committee rejected the governor's $14 million claims assessment proposal, which would have taxed every medical care transaction filed with a health insurance company.
Lawmakers are determined to balance the budget without the new revenue.
The House Appropriations Committee has been figuring out how to fill the $14 million hole. For starters, they are not including the governor's budget increases in the appropriations bill.
Shumlin's priorities are being put on what is known as "the wish list." Lawmakers agonized Thursday about relegating programs to the list which will get whittled at the end of this week as they prepare the budget for a vote on the House floor.
Here's a small sampling of what's on the list so far:
- 2 percent increases for Medicaid providers.
- 2 percent increases for the University of Vermont, the Vermont State Colleges, Vermont Student Assistance Corp.
- A 2 percent increase in the annual appropriation for Vermont Public Television
- 6 percent of a 9 percent increase for the Regional Development Commissions and the Regional Planning Commissions
- $50,000 to maintain the Lois McClure, a replica of a 19th century Lake Champlain ship.
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