• Vermont GOP expected to offer amendment to budget
    By Peter Hirschfeld
    Staff Writer | March 28,2013
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    MONTPELIER – Having failed in their bid to derail a tax bill that would raise more than $20 million in new revenue next year, House Republicans have now turned their focus toward changing the ways in which Democrats want to spend the money.

    The GOP super-minority will offer an amendment to the budget Friday that would ax spending on new programs and redirect the money to buy down public-pension obligations and bolster rainy-day reserves.

    The amendment will undoubtedly fail, and by a wide margin. But House Minority Leader Don Turner said his caucus is at least making its points.

    “Vermont needs to get its fiscal house in order,”Turner said Thursday. “It's already very expensive to live in Vermont. And these (budget and tax) bills make it much, much worse.”

    Turner said that at the outset of the session, he presented House Speaker Shap Smith with the conditions that would be needed to earn his caucus' support for the fiscal year 2014 spending plan. They included: an overall spending increase of not more than 3 percent; limiting new employees to the 17 positions needed to staff the new state hospital; and the creation of a $20 million reserve to absorb looming cuts in federal aid.

    “We knew full well we wouldn't achieve everything on this, but we hoped to see some movement on some,” Turner said. “This budget being brought to the floor does not do that.”

    Read more about Thursday's budget fight in Friday's edition of the Rutland Herald.
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