Legislative Update 24 JUNE 23

Dear Constituents –

Tuesday, June 20 marked an historic day in the Vermont Legislature: without hesitation, the majority party in the House of Representatives overrode five gubernatorial vetoes, and adjourned an expected three-day session at the end of one day. Despite pleas on the House floor for reason and fiscal prudence, the majority rapidly dispatched the Governor’s concerns on: H.494 (Budget) – it has swollen by 13% over last year and contains $22M in unsolicited DMV fee increases; H.217 (Childcare) - sets up a brand-new $125M payroll tax largely funded by employers, although all workers will be required to pay their share; H.305 increased professional licensing fees for critical occupations; H.509 (non-citizen voting in Burlington) and H.386 (16/17-year old voting in Brattleboro). To say it was an exhausting, overwhelming, and disheartening exercise is an understatement; 37 Republicans (plus one, the Governor) essentially had no voice for the pocketbooks and sensibilities of the voters of Vermont. The same can be said for the Senate, which although they did not override any vetos, sent back to committee S.39, a legislative pay raise, for a second bite of the apple in January that will cost Vermonters another $4.7M in revenue (raised by taxes and fees). Vermont has truly become one of the most unaffordable states in the nation to live in.  The 2023 session began in the spirit of compromise and promises that even though a supermajority exists thanks to the 2022 election, we would be collaborating and coming up with mutually agreeable solutions to Vermont’s biggest problems.  Nowhere was that more unapparent than with H.217, the childcare bill.  The Governor proposed a reasonable solution that would have put Vermont with the most generous in the nation for subsidies to families and wages for childcare providers, and that bill (H.340, co-sponsored by myself and other Franklin County Reps) was summarily disregarded in favor of an even more generous package that advocates have been touting for a decade. Their victory was celebrated on the Statehouse steps on June 21, and it is but the tip of the iceberg of fully subsidized childcare for all, courtesy of raising more taxes and fees in the future. How elected officials can with a clear conscience vote to increase the cost of living in our beautiful state and not expect a mass exodus to more business-friendly places, especially with an economic downturn looming, is beyond me – do the benefits of being the number one state offering social services really outweigh the cost to its citizens, particularly low-income and elderly residents who will suffer under a regressive tax structure?  I don’t think we need the distinction of being the number one most generous state for benefits or the number one state for highest taxes and cost of living. And did I mention that for the cost of $3.5M, we somehow cannot see fit to honor our military families for their service and sacrifice by exempting their retirement pensions or survivors’ benefits from state income tax (H.255, another concept that has been around for at least a decade)??  With comments and concerns, please reach out to me at [email protected].  You can find any of these bills on the Vermont General Assembly website by typing the bill number in the bill tracker field on the front page.

Thank you for the opportunity to represent you in the Statehouse.

Stay well,

Rep Lisa A Hango

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