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YCQM: March 3, 2013 - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

YCQM: March 3, 2013

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

>>> GOOD MORNING, EVERYONE, AND THANKS FOR JOINING US. OUR LEADERS THIS SUNDAY MORNING ARE THE TWO LEADERS IN THE VERMONT SENATE. WE HAVE THE REPUBLICAN LEADER, JOE BENNING, AND PHIL BARUTH, THE DEMOCRATIC LEADER.

>> THANKS FOR HAVING US.

>> MY FIRST QUESTION IS FOR YOU. WHAT MAKES PASSING GUN LEGISLATION OR EVEN PROMOTING GUN LEGISLATION IN MONTPELIER SO DIFFICULT?

>> EXCELLENT QUESTION, ESPECIALLY I JUST SAW A BREAKING STORY THAT LINDA RAY SIMPSON'S BILL HAS -- THE DECISION HAS BEEN MADE NOT TO HAVE THAT GO FORWARD IN THE HOUSE. I THINK IT'S GOT A LOT TO DO WITH THE RURAL TRADITION OF VERMONT. WE HAVE LONG BEEN A HUNTING STATE, THERE'S A LOT OF PRIDE IN THE ETHAN ALLEN PRACTICE DIGS, TO GOING BACK -- TRADITION, SO GOING BACK TO THE WELL-REGULATED MILITIA DAYS, I THINK ALSO PEOPLE HAVE MADE A COMPELLING ARGUMENT THAT VERMONT HAS VERY LITTLE IN THE WAY OF GUN VIOLENCE, AND THEREFORE, WE SHOULDN'T BE PROMOTING NEW GUN LAWS WITHIN THE STATE. I KNOW I PUT FORWARD A BILL AND AS A RESULT, I GOT A LOT OF CORRESPONDENCE FROM A LOT OF PEOPLE AND THAT WAS ONE ARGUMENT THAT DID RESONATE WITH ME, THAT WE ARE A STATE WITHOUT, YOU KNOW, WITHOUT THE KINDS OF REAL EXTREME GUN VIOLENCE THAT WE SEE ELSEWHERE. SO I WOULD THINK THOSE WOULD BE THE FACTORS. I WOULD ADD TO THAT, THERE'S BEEN A VERY WELL-FUNDED CAMPAIGN FROM PROPONENTS OF GUN RIGHTS OVER THE LAST 10 OR 15 OR 20 YEARS. TAKE ALL OF THOSE THINGS TOGETHER AND I THINK PEOPLE HAVE AN EXPECTATION THAT THERE WILL BE RESPECT FOR THE RIGHTS OF HUNTERS AND SPORTSMEN AND CERTAINLY I HAVE THAT. I WAS JUST TRYING WITH MY BILL TO HIT A PLACE WHERE YOU WOULD BE PROTECTING THOSE RIGHTS, BUT MOVING TOWARD GREATER GUN SAFETY, AS I WOULD CALL IT.

>> AND SEN. BARUTH, WHAT DO YOU THINK?

>> PART OF THE PROBLEM, WE DO LIVE IN A -- I DON'T WANT TO CALL IT A PROBLEM. WE'RE IN A RURAL SOCIETY THAT IS QUITE USED TO GUN OWNERSHIP, DOESN'T SEE THAT THERE HAS BEEN A BIG PROBLEM HERE, BUT EVEN IN THOSE QUARTERS, PEOPLE RECOGNIZE THERE'S A PROBLEM ON THE NATIONAL LEVEL AND SO I'LL GIVE YOU THE EXAMPLE OF MY WIFE, FOR INSTANCE, WHO'S A SECOND GRADE SCHOOL TEACHER. WHEN SANDY HOOK CAME ON YOUR NEWSCASTS AND WE HEARD ALL THESE TERRIBLE REPORTS ABOUT WHAT WAS HAPPENING, SOME REPORTER CAME ON TO SAY THAT THERE WOULD BE REACTION FOR GUN CONTROL AND MY WIFE TURNED TO ME AND SAID THIS IS NOT ABOUT GUNS, THIS IS ABOUT THE CULTURE OF THE PERSON WHO IS BEHIND THE TRIGGER. AND UNLESS AND UNTIL YOU ACTUALLY GET THE MENTAL HEALTH PORTION OF THAT TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT, YOU'RE NOT REALLY REACHING THE ULTIMATE PROBLEM, AND SO WE ACTUALLY COULD HAVE SOME COMMON GROUND IF WE WERE STRENGTHENING A REPORTING REQUIREMENT, FOR INSTANCE, TO TRY TO PREVENT PEOPLE WHO ARE MENTALLY UNSTABLE FROM HAVING ACCESS TO GUNS.

>> IS THAT GOING TO HAPPEN THIS SESSION?

>> I'M NOT SURE. WE'VE HAD TWO BILLS, ONE IN THE SENATE AND ONE IN THE HOUSE. BOTH HAVE BEEN WITHDRAWN AND THERE HAS BEEN DISCUSSION ABOUT THAT SUBJECT IN OTHER QUARTERS, BUT IF WE HAVE TIME BEFORE CROSSOVER REMAINS TO BE SEEN.

>> SEN. BARUTH, YOU MENTIONED THIS IDEA THAT THE PROPONENTS OF GUN RIGHTS ARE VERY VOCAL. A RECENT SURVEY CAME OUT, SURVEYED ABOUT 620 VERMONTERS AND OF THOSE SURVEYED, OVERWHELMING SUPPORT FOR GUN LEGISLATION. DO YOU THINK THERE'S A DISCONNECT THERE?

>> I THINK THERE IS A LAG BETWEEN CHANGING PUBLIC OPINION AND REPRESENTATIVES IN A STATE LEGISLATURE, SO I THINK IF YOU GO FORWARD 20 YEARS, YOU WILL SEE SOMEWHAT OF A CHANGE IN EVERY AREA OF THE STATE ON THIS OR ANY OTHER ISSUE. WITH THAT SAID, AFTER AURORA, AFTER ARIZONA, AFTER NEWTOWN, I THINK YOU EXPERIENCE THE SURGES IN EMOTION AND I DEFINITELY, AFTER THE THIRD OR FOURTH DIFFERENT MASS SHOOTING, I DEFINITELY MYSELF WANTED TO RESPOND AND I WANTED TO -- MY IDEA WAS TO RESTORE THE FEDERAL ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN WE HAD AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL IN THE '90s, AND THAT SEEMED TO ME, GIVEN THAT IT HAD BEEN THE STATE OF AFFAIRS UNDER BILL CLINTON, DIDN'T SEEM LIKE A CRAZY PLACE TO GO, BUT MY EXPERIENCE WAS THAT IMMEDIATELY THE DEBATE SHIFTED TO NOT GUN SAFETY, HOW CAN WE MAKE SCHOOLS A SAFER ENVIRONMENT, HOW CAN WE PREVENT MASS SHOOT, BUT IT CAME DOWN TO A SECOND AMENDMENT QUESTION OF DO I HAVE A RIGHT TO HAVE A GUN IF AND IT SEEMED AS THOUGH THE DEBATE WAS GOING TO COMPLETELY CENTER ON THAT AND BEGIN AND END THERE. AND SO I MADE THE DECISION EARLIER IN THE SESSION TO PULL THE ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN SO THAT WE COULD FOCUS ON PUTTING LIFE INTO THE SIMPSON BILL WHICH TO MY MIND SHOWED GREATER CONSENSUS IN THE STATE HOUSE.

>> ARE YOU DISAPPOINTED -- AGAIN, WE'RE HEARING INDICATIONS THAT HER BILL WILL NOT MOVE FORWARD BECAUSE THERE'S NOT ENOUGH SUPPORT IN THE HOUSE. ARE YOU DISAPPOINTED THAT NOTHING RELATED TO GUN CONTROL WILL BE DONE THIS SESSION?

>> THERE'S ONE BILL STILL OUT THERE, AND THAT'S DICK McCORMICK'S BILL, WHICH IS SIMILAR TO LINDAS, BUT AGAIN, A STEP FURTHER BACK. IT'S LIMITED PRETTY MUCH TO SAFE STORAGE OF WEAPONS. I THINK THAT'S NECESSARY, BUT I DO BELIEVE THAT IN TERMS OF GUN SAFETY, WE CAN BE DOING MORE. THE QUESTION IS, IF THE VOTES AREN'T THERE IN THE STATE HOUSE, YOU NEED TO CHANGE HEARTS AND MINDS. HOW BEST TO DO THAT, MY DECISION WAS TO TRY TO MOVE THE DISCUSSION AWAY FROM BANNING A CERTAIN NARROW CLASS OF WEAPONS AND MOVE IT ON TO HOW CAN WE MAKE A SAFER ENVIRONMENT FOR KIDS. SO I'M STILL HOPEFUL THAT THE DISCUSSION GOES FORWARD IN THAT WAY, BUT IN THE ABSENCE OF LINDA'S BILL, I THINK WE NEED TO REGROUP TO A CERTAIN EXTENT.

>> BUT IN TERMS OF THE SURVEY, SOMETHING LIKE 70% OF VERMONTERS, INCLUDING GUN OWNERS, CAME FORWARD AND SAID THEY SUPPORT GUN LEGISLATION, LIMITING ASSAULT WEAPONS, FOR AN EXAMPLE. SO WHY IS IT SO HARD TO PUSH SOMETHING LIKE THAT THROUGH MONTPELIER IF AT LEAST ACCORDING TO THIS SURVEY, THE PEOPLE ARE ON THE SAME PAGE? WHERE IS THAT DISCONNECT?

>> I DON'T THINK IT WAS 70% IN FAVOR OF THE ASSAULT WEAPONS PART. I THINK IT WAS IN FAVOR OF GUN CONTROL.

>> GUN CONTROL.

>> IF I'M RIGHT, THE ASSAULT WEAPONS QUESTION WAS A NARROW MA MAJORITY MAJORITY, SO IT WAS ABOVE 50%, SO YOUR POINT STILL STANDS.

>> I'M WONDERING WHERE THE CATHOLIC AND POLLING INSTITUTE GETS ITS INFORMATION FROM BECAUSE IF YOU COME TO MY NECK OF THE WOODS IN THE NORTHEAST KINGDOM AND DID A POLLING THERE, I SUSPECT VERY STRONGLY THAT YOU WOULD HAVE A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION IF YOU'RE FOCUSING ON THE GUN ITSELF. IF YOU'RE FOCUSING ON WHO HAS THE GUN, YOU MIGHT HAVE HAD STRONGER RESULTS, BUT WHEN I HEAR THOSE NUMBERS, FIRST, MOST PEOPLE THINK ASSAULT WEAPON. ASSAULT WEAPONS ARE BANNED IN THIS COUNTRY. WHAT WE HAVE IS A GUN THAT LOOKS LIKE AN ASSAULT WEAPON AS BEING THE WEAPON THAT PEOPLE WANT TO TALK ABOUT. BUT THEY CONFLICT IT TO AND SAY THIS IS AN ASSAULT WEAPON AND I THINK MOST PEOPLE WILL AGREE THAT AN ASSAULT WEAPON SHOULD BE BANNED. YOU DON'T WANT TO HAVE ONE TRIGGER PULL AND HAVE 50 ROUNDS GO.

>> AUTOMATIC.

>> THAT'S RIGHT. BUT WHEN YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT ONE TRIGGER FULL AND ONE BULLET COMING OUT, THAT'S A DIFFERENT GUN ALTOGETHER AND UNLESS YOU GET THE POLLING DATA TO ACTUALLY REFLECT WHAT THAT QUESTION SHOULD BE, YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE SOMETHING THAT I HAVE TO QUESTION WHAT THE RESULTS ARE.

>> YOU DON'T THINK THE INSTITUTE RESULTS ARE VALID?

>> I THINK I WOULD WANT TO KNOW WHAT THE QUESTION WAS THAT WAS ASKED, AND FIGURE OUT WHETHER OR NOT THERE'S A DIFFERENT WAY TO ASK IT, BECAUSE MY BET IS THAT IF YOU ASK THIS QUESTION, "ARE THERE PEOPLE OUT THERE THAT SHOULDN'T HAVE GUNS IN THEIR POSSESSION," I THINK THE ANSWER WOULD BE YES, IF NOT 100%, PRETTY CLOSE TO IT. BUT IF YOU GET TO A POINT WHERE YOU'RE TELLING PEOPLE IN MY NECK OF THE WOODS, FOR INSTANCE, THAT THEY CAN'T HAVE A WEAPON NEXT TO THEIR BED FOR WHATEVER INTRUSION WOULD HAPPEN TO THEM, YOU WOULD GET A LOT OF PUSHBACK AND THAT'S WHERE THE PUSHBACK IS COMING FROM, AND IT'S UNFORTUNATE THAT WE CAN'T GET MIDDLE GROUND, BUT IT SEEMS PEOPLE GET POLARIZED WHEN THEY HEAR A POLL LIKE THAT AND THEY SET UP THIS BIG CAMP AND NOTHING GETS ACCOMPLISHED.

>> ONE THING I THINK JOE MENTIONED WAS BACKGROUND CHECKS. AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL, THAT SEEMS TO BE WHERE PEOPLE ARE GRAVITATING TOWARD. THE STICKING POINT, AND IT SHOULDN'T BE A SURPRISE TO ANYBODY AT THIS POINT, IS THAT THERE ARE INTERESTS AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL WHO DON'T WANT A TRULY UNIVERSAL BACKGROUND CHECK BECAUSE THEY DON'T WANT A SINGLE RESERVOIR OF GUN INFORMATION, AND WHETHER YOU THINK THAT'S RIGHT OR WRONG, THAT'S THE STICKING POINT. NOW, I'M REMINDED AFTER THE TIMOTHY McVEIGH FEDERAL BUILDING BOMBING, BILL CLINTON WAS PRESIDENT AND IN THE WAKE OF THAT, WITH PEOPLE GRIEVING, PEOPLE TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW CAN WE PREVENT THIS FROM HAPPENING AGAIN, BILL CLINTON PROPOSED THAT WE TAG EXPLOSIVES. IN OTHER WORDS, THAT THERE BE A CHEMICAL TAG ADDED TO EXPLOSIVES SO THAT WE CAN TRACE BACK IF SOMEONE USED AN EXPLOSIVE, WHERE THOSE EXPLOSIVES HAD ORIGINATED. AND AT THE TIME, THE REPUBLICAN CONGRESS UNDER NEWT GINGRICH REFUSED TO ALLOW THAT BECAUSE THEY WERE WORRIED THAT THE GOVERNMENT WOULD USE THAT INFORMATION SOMEHOW TO INCREASE ITS POWER OR TO ATTACK ORDINARY CITIZENS OR TO TAKE THEIR WEAPONS AWAY. AND I DO THINK THAT'S AN ELEMENT OF THIS DEBATE THAT WE HAVE TO CONFRONT, AND THAT IS, THERE ARE REASONABLE MEASURES THAT ARE BEING OPPOSED FOR UNREASONABLE REASONS. AND SO OPPOSING THE UNIVERSAL DATABASE OR VERMONT'S PARTICIPATION IN A FEDERAL DATABASE BECAUSE WE DON'T WANT OUR INFORMATION TO BE AVAILABLE TO THE GOVERNMENT BECAUSE WE MIGHT SOMEDAY HAVE TO FIGHT THE GOVERNMENT, I HEARD THAT ARGUMENT MANY TIMES AND I THINK THAT'S AN ARGUMENT THAT PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY PEOPLE IN THE LEGISLATURE WHO ARE THE GOVERNMENT, NEED TO PUSH BACK AGAINST.

>> AND I SHOULD POINT OUT VERY QUICKLY THAT GOVERNOR PETER SHUMLIN IN WASHINGTON, D.C., SAYS HE DOES SUPPORT UNIVERSAL BACKGROUND CHECKS. LET'S MOVE ON PAST THE GUN CONTROL ISSUE. THERE ARE A LOT OF OTHER ISSUES YOU'RE FACING. THERE WAS SOME MOVEMENT TODAY ON A BILL THAT -- AT ONE POINT THE BILL WAS CALLING FOR A MORE RA TORM AND NOW IT'S GOTTEN CHANGED TO CALL TO WIND PROJECTS TO GO UNDER APPROVAL. IS THIS GOING TO PASS THE SENATE?

>> I'M OPTIMISTIC THAT IT WILL. THAT PROCESS BEGAN WHEN I TOOK A HIKE UP LOWELL MOUNTAIN LAST SPRING AND WHEN I GOT TO THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN AND I LOOKED AROUND AT WHAT HAD BEEN DONE TO THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN, RECOGNIZING THAT THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST PRISTINE ENVIRONMENTS THAT VERMONT HAD, AND WHAT WE ENDED UP WITH WAS REALLY A LEGACY TO OUR CHILDREN THAT'S COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THAN ANYTHING I HAD EVER ENVISIONED VERMONT WOULD BE. I CAME BACK AND I INSTINCTIVELY REACTED --

>> WHAT DID YOU SEE THAT MADE THAT STRONG REACTION?

>> I WISH I'D BROUGHT SOME PICTURES TO SHOW YOU, BECAUSE WHAT YOU SEE WHEN YOU GET UP THERE, LET TAKE THE CASE OF TOWER NINE. TOWER NINE HAS A 100-FOOT TALL FLAT-TOPPED PYRAMID ON TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN ITSELF. THAT WAS BUILT OF 20-FOOT LAYERS, EACH LAYER COVERED OVER WITH AN EROSION MAT TO PROTECT IT IN THE EVENT OF INCLEMENT WEATHER AND IT'S TOP OVER TO CONCRETE AND REBAR ON TOP OF THAT, WHICH IS ABOUT 490 FEET TALL. YOU TAKE THAT IMAGE AND IT TAKES AWAY FROM ME EVERYTHING I HAD ANTICIPATED VERMONT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE. NUMBER ONE, WAIT IS A PERSIST TEEN ENVIRONMENT -- IT WAS A PERSIST TEEN ENVIRONMENT AND NUMBER TWO, WE NOW HAVE AN INPERVIOUS SURFACE AT THE TOP THAT AFFECTS WATER QUALITY AND HAS AN IMPACT ON WILDLIFE CORRIDOR AND WILDLIFE HABITAT AND IN EXCHANGE TO WHAT WE'VE GOTTEN OUT OF THAT, WE HAVE THIS TOWER THAT'S GOING TO PROVIDE US WITH 20 YEARS WORTH OF INTERMITTENT POWER. I BEGAN TO QUESTION MYSELF, IS THAT REALLY WHAT VERMONT WANTS TO HAVE. DO WE WANT TO CHANGE OUR PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT IN EXCHANGE FOR INTERMITTENT POWER THAT PROVIDES US WITH POWER THAT HAS TO BE PAID FOR AT ABOUT TWICE THE RATE OF WHAT WE CAN GET OFF THE NEW ENGLAND POWER GRID. ECONOMICALLY AND ENVIRONMENTALLY, THAT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE TO ME AT ALLS I SUSPECT YOU MAY HAVE -- AND I SUSPECT YOU MAY HAVE KNOWN THAT THE CATHOLIC AND POLLING INSTITUTE ALSO ISSUED A POLL AND SAID WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT WIND? I THINK WIND IS AN IMPORTANT PART OF OUR ENERGY PORTFOLIO. WHAT I DISAGREE WITH THE DOING IT WRONG AND DOING IT IN SUCH A WAY THAT WE LEAVE TO OUR CHILDREN SOMETHING THAT'S COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THAN WHAT MANY OF US HAD EXPECTED SHOULD BE THE ENVIRONMENT AND SYMBOLS OF VERMONT, OUR MOUNTAINS.

>> AS YOU KNOW, SEN. BARUTH, THIS IS DRAWING INTEREST AND ALLIES ON ALL SIDES OF THE SPECTRUM. DEMOCRATS TRY TO BLOCK THIS BILL?

>> NO, AND THE REASON I SAY THAT SO QUICKLY IS THIS IS COMING OUT OF OUR NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE. THE CHAIR SUPPORTS THE BILL AND THEY VOTED IT OUT THIS MORNING 4-1, WHICH IS A REASONABLY STRONG SHOW OF SUPPORT IN OUR STANDING COMMITTEE, SO IT WILL COME TO THE FLOOR IN THE NORMAL COURSE OF THINGS. I'LL SPEAK AS A MAJORITY LEADER AND NOT AS A SINGLE SENATOR ON THIS. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE WANTED TO AVOID THAT WE HAD SOME TROUBLE WITH LAST YEAR WAS SUPPORT WOULD DEVELOP FOR AN ISSUE, MAYBE 10 OR 12 OR 14 SENATORS WHO REALLY WANTED TO SEE SOMETHING HAPPEN, AND THEY WOULD BE THWARTED BY THE COMMITTEE PROCESS AND THIS WOULD BUBBLE OVER ON THE FLOOR AND IT BECAME PERVASIVE BY THE TIME WE HIT APRIL.

>> A LOT OF PEOPLE SAID THE SENATE WAS FACING SOME DYSFUNCTION SOMETIMES.

>> EXACTLY, AND SO WE DID A LOT OF SOUL-SEARCHING, A LOT OF ORGANIZATIONAL THINKING, AND MADE SOME CHANGES AND ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE TRIED TO DO IS TAKE ISSUES THAT HAD THAT MUCH SUPPORT AND SEE IF THERE WASN'T A WAY TO GET THEM OUT OF THE COMMITTEE, NOT NECESSARILY TO PASS THEM, BUT TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY HAD AN UP-OR-DOWN VOTE UNDER NORMAL RULES.

>> SO IS THIS GOING TO PASS, YOU THINK?

>> I WOULD SAY IT'S GOING TO BE VERY CLOSE. I WOULDN'T WANT TO BET ON IT, AND THE REASON IS THAT I THINK THE PROPONENTS OF THIS BILL HAVE DONE A REALLY GOOD JOB. THEY BEGAN WITH A WIN MORATORIUM AND IT IS NO LONGER A WIND MORATORIUM BILL. IT'S A BILL THAT'S EXPANDING THE REGIME OF ACT 250 TO INCLUDE CERTAIN PROJECTS AND TO BRING IN LOCAL PLANNING AND REGIONAL PLANNING. THOSE ARE THINGS THAT DEMOCRATS HAVE TYPICALLY SUPPORTED, SO WHAT IT DOES IS IT PRODUCES CAUTION ON WIND THROUGH THESE OTHER MECHANISMS. NOW, I HAPPEN TO BE SOMEBODY WHO HAS BEEN A STRONG PROPONENT OF WIND AND I LIKE THE FACT THAT VERMONT HAS PER CAPITA MORE RENEWABLE JOBS THAN OTHER STATES. I THINK THAT'S TO THE GOOD FOR OUR ECONOMY. MY EQUATION IS IS IT GOING TO UPSET THAT PROCEEDING PREEMINENCE IN RENEWABLE POWER. IF IT IS, I'LL PROBABLY VOTE AGAINST IT. BUT I THINK, AGAIN, THE PEOPLE WHO PUT THE BILL TOGETHER HAVE DONE A GOOD JOB OF MOVING AWAY FROM WHAT WAS A MINORITY POSITION INTO SOMETHING MORE LIKE A POSITION THAT COULD GET MINORITY -- I'M SORRY, MAJORITY SUPPORT.

>> I HAVE TO TAKE A BRIEF BREAK AND CONTINUE OUR DISCUSSION ON ALL THE IMPORTANT BILLS

>>> WELCOME BACK, EVERYWHERE. WE'RE CONTINUING OUR DISCUSSION WITH SENATORS PHIL BARUTH, THE DEMOCRATIC MAJORITY LEADER IN THE VERMONT SENATE AND JOE BENNING, THE REPUBLICAN LEADER IN THE VERMONT SENATE. CURIOUS ABOUT THIS BREAK-OPEN TAX. THE GOVERNOR PROPOSED IT, MADE IT PART OF HIS BUDGET, REALLY SPENT A LOT OF TIME ON IT. IS IT GOING TO GENERATE THE MONEY THE GOVERNOR IS EXPECTING TO GO TOWARD?

>> FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE, I WOULD FIND THAT VERY DIFFICULT TO BELIEVE AND I DON'T THINK ANYBODY HAS TRULY RUN THE EXACT NUMBERS. HOW HE'S EVER GOING TO GET THE 17 MILLION, I JUST CAN'T SEE THAT HAPPENING AND I DON'T -- FROM MY PERSPECTIVE, I DON'T SEE MYSELF VOTING FOR IT.

>> YEAH, THE GOVERNOR HAS SUGGESTED 17 MILLION. I THINK THE HOUSE IS TALKING ABOUT 6.5 MILLION. WHAT THEY'RE WORKING ON NOW, AS I UNDERSTAND IT, IS AN ESTIMATE THAT BOTH SIDES CAN AGREE ON, BUT I THINK THE SKEPTICISM ISN'T LIMITED TO WHETHER OR NOT YOU CALL IT 17 OR 6.5. IT'S, IS THAT A SUSTAINABLE FUNDING SOURCE. THEN PEOPLE WHO ARE IN THOSE CLUBS MAKE THE ARGUMENT THAT THIS IS GOING TO AFFECT THEIR PHILANTHROPIC GIVING, AFFECT THE VFWs IN LOCAL AREAS. I WOULD HOPE WE COULD FIND BETTER SOURCES GOING FORWARD THAN THE BREAKOPEN TICKETS.

>> DO YOU THINK THIS IS A SORT OF PATTERN THAT'S DEVELOPING WITH THE SHUMLIN ADMINISTRATION, WHERE THEY PROPOSE SOMETHING, THE LEGISLATURE LOOKS AT THE NUMBERS AND SAYS I DON'T THINK THIS ADDS UP, BUT THE LEGISLATURE IS LEFT TO SORT OF FIND THAT MONEY, HAPPENED WITH THE PROPOSAL ABOUT THE GAS TAX, THE GOVERNOR'S BUDGET SPEECH. DO YOU FEEL THIS IS A PATTERN THAT'S DEVELOPING WHERE THE GOVERNOR LAYS OUT PRIORITIES AND THE NUMBERS DON'T ADD UP AND THE LEGISLATURE IS LEFT TO COME UP WITH THE WORK?

>> FROM MY PERSPECTIVE, WE DON'T HAVE ENOUGH TIME LEFT ON THE PROGRAM TO TALK ABOUT THAT, BUT YES, INDEED, I DO BELIEVE THAT HAS ESTABLISHED ITSELF AS A PATTERN AND THE LEGISLATURE SEEMS TO BE AT THE RECEIVING END OF ANYTHING THAT THE ADMINISTRATION WANTS TO PUT FORWARD AND WE END UP HAVING TO PICK UP THE PIECES TO TRY TO PUT IT TOGETHER. THAT'S NOT A REALLY GOOD WAY TO RUN BUSINESS AND THE FACT THAT PHILIP AND I ARE SITTING HERE TOGETHER IS DEMONSTRATIVE OF THE ABILITY TO WORK TOGETHER TO ACHIEVE A CERTAIN RESULT, AND WE HAVE THE ABILITY IN THE SENATE THIS YEAR, I'M HAPPY TO SAY, THAT WE CAN WORK TOGETHER TO GET THINGS ACCOMPLISHED. BUT WE DO THAT BY SITTING DOWN AND TALKING TO EACH OTHER FIRST, NOT HAVING SOMEBODY PITCH SOMETHING AND THEN EVERYBODY ELSE RUNS AROUND THE BUILDING AND COMES BACK TO TRY TO MAKE IT WORK. TO ME, WHAT WE ARE SEEING HERE IS A PATTERN THAT'S DEVELOPED THAT IS VERY UNFORTUNATE BECAUSE I DON'T THINK VERMONTERS ARE BEST SERVED BY THAT HAPPENING.

>> I AGREE WITH JOE ON HOW WE WORK WELL TOGETHER. THE THING I DISAGREE ON IS I DON'T THINK THE SHUMLIN ADMINISTRATION HAD BEEN ABDICATING RESPONSIBILITY. I THINK THEY'RE FACED WITH THE FIFTH YEAR OF THE GREAT RECESSION. IT'S AN EXTRAORDINARY TIME IN AMERICAN HISTORY TO BE RUNNING A STATE GOVERNMENT, ESPECIALLY UNDER THE THREAT OF SEQUESTRATION, WHICH, IF THE SEQUESTER GOES INTO EFFECT --

>> WHICH IT LOOKS LIKE IT WILL.

>> RIGHT. WE'RE TALKING -- WE COULD GO ON AND ON, BUT BASICALLY WELL OVER A MILLION FOR PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOL TEACHERS CUT EVERY YEAR, WELL OVER A MILLION FOR WATER QUALITY IN LAKE CHAMPLAIN, WELL OVER A MILLION FOR DISABLED KIDS EVERY YEAR. THE GOVERNOR IS ON THE HOOK FOR ALL OF THOSE CUTS FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AS WELL AS THE DIMINISHING REVENUES FROM THE RECESSION, SO I GIVE THE SHUMLIN ADMINISTRATION GREAT CREDIT. THEY HAVE CREDIBLE IN FULFILLING HIS PLEDGE NOT TO RAISE BROAD-BASED TAXES AND THEY HAVE MANAGED TO BALANCE THE BUDGET AND YET ADVANCE SOME VERY AMBITIOUS PRIORITIES. THIS YEAR, I THINK IS THE YEAR WHEN IT'S REALLY COMING HOME TO ROOST BECAUSE, AGAIN, FIFTH YEAR OF THE RECESSION WITH THE SEQUESTER AND I DON'T KNOW THAT WE CAN DO SOME OF THE NEW SPENDING THAT THE GOVERNOR IS TALKING ABOUT, SO SOMETHING LIKE THE WEATHERIZATION PROGRAM, IT SEEMS TO ME, TO MAKE ALL KINDS OF SENSE IF YOU HAVE THE MONEY UP FRONT TO MAKE THE REPAIRS, I DON'T KNOW THAT WE DO.

>> IN KEEPING WITH THE CONVERSATION ON TAXES, LET'S SWITCH GEARS TO THE SODA TAX. THAT ALSO GETTING REACTION FROM THE GENERAL PUBLIC. WILL THAT PASS?

>> I DON'T THINK IT WILL PASS. IT'S CERTAINLY NOT GOING TO GET MY VOTE. ON MY END OF THE STATE, I LIVE VERY CLOSE TO THE NEW HAMPSHIRE BORDER AND EVERY TIME WE IMPOSE A TAX OF THAT NATURE, NEW HAMPSHIRE SEES A BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY. SO FROM THE FOLKS THAT I REPRESENT, IT WOULD BE VERY HARD FOR ME TO VOTE FOR SOMETHING LIKE THAT.

>> AND SEN. BARUTH?

>> I AGREE. I WAS ON THE AG COMMITTEE THE LAST TWO YEARS AND WE HAD PRESENTATIONS FROM BILL SORRELL, WHO WAS MOVING OR TRYING TO MOVE THE SUGAR BEVERAGE TAX AND IT'S STAGGERING WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE GROWTH IN OBESITY OVER THE LAST 30 YEARS, IF YOU DO IT AS A GRAPH WITH RED DOTS ON THE UNITED STATES AND YOU TIME-LAPSE IT, IT'S LIKE AN EPIDEMIC, STREDS LIKE AN EPIDEMIC. WITH THAT SAID, I DON'T THINK THIS IS THE RIGHT WAY TO GO ABOUT IT. I HAPPEN TO BELIEVE THAT THE PEOPLE WHO ARE BUYING SODA ARE GOING TO CONTINUE TO BUY IT, BUT THE TAX WILL COME OUT OF THEIR FOOD BILL AND PEOPLE HAVE ENOUGH FOOD INSECURITY IN VERMONT AS IT IS. I WOULD PREFER TO SEE US ATTACK THE PROBLEM IN OTHER WAYS. WITH THAT SAID, THE HEART ASSOCIATION HAS BEEN DOING YEOMAN'S WORK GETTING PEOPLE UP TO SPEED ON THE OBESITY EPIDEMIC AND I THINK EVEN THOUGH THEY HAVEN'T BEEN SUCCESSFUL WITH THIS, PUSHING FOR IT THE LAST TWO YEARS HAS BEEN EDUCATIONAL FOR EVERYBODY AND MAY WIND UP WITH POLICY INITIATIVES OTHER THAN THE SUGARED BEVERAGE TAX.

>> A LOT OF CONVERSATIONS AT THE STATE HOUSE ABOUT THE GOVERNOR'S EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT PROPOSAL, TAKING SOME OF THAT MONEY, DIVERTING IT TO CHILD CARE SUBSIDY FOR LOW-INCOME VERMONTERS. SOME PUSHBACK. SEN. BARUTH, YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT PLAN?

>> I OPPOSE IT AND I'LL SAY THAT FLATLY. I THINK THE EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT IS THE HEART OF OUR ANTI-POVERTY PROGRAMS. I THINK IF YOU'RE GOING TO GET INTO THE PROCESS OF TAKING FROM ONE INCREDIBLY NEEDY GROUP OF PEOPLE, WE HAD A MEMBER OF OUR COMMITTEE WHO USED THE PHRASE TOXIC POVERTY TO DESCRIBE THIS GROUP OF PEOPLE. I AGREE WITH THAT. TO TAKE THE MONEY FROM THE PEOPLE WHO DON'T HAPPEN TO HAVE KIDS IN THE EARLY EDUCATION RANGE AND GIVE IT TO PEOPLE WHO DO STRIKES ME AS THE SORT OF BARGAIN THAT YOU MAKE WITH THE DEVIL AND I DON'T WANT TO DO THAT. WITH THAT SAID, I GIVE THE ADMINISTRATION A "A" FOR THE POLICY PROPOSALS THAT THEY HAVE PUT FORWARD, SO I DEFINITELY SUPPORT SUBSIDIZED CHILD CARE FOR WOMEN WHO WANT TO RETURN TO THE WORKFORCE. I DEFINITELY SUPPORT THE ENTIRE EDUCATIONAL SPECTRUM HE LAID OUT IN THE STATE OF THE STATE. I THINK HIS TEAM GETS GREAT CREDIT FOR THAT, BUT THE FUNDING SOURCES ARE NOT JUST PROBLEMATIC AT THIS POINT, I THINK THEY'RE DYING OF THEIR OWN INERTIA AND THEIR OWN WEIGHT AND I HOPE THEY WILL QUICKLY PIVOT TO SOME FUNDING SOURCES THAT CAN WORK.

>> SEN. BENNING?

>> I AGREE WITH THAT. I REALLY GIVE THE GOVERNOR CREDIT FOR TRYING TO FIND OUR WAYS TO FUND THINGS, BUT WE HAVEN'T GRASPED THE CONCEPT YET THAT WE'VE BEEN TRYING TO DO TOO MUCH FOR TOO MANY FOR TOO LONG WITH TOO LITTLE AND AS I'M RIDING DOWN THE INTERSTATE TO GET HERE, MISSING POTHOLES AND CRACKED PAVEMENT, THAT'S ONE OF THE CORE FUNCTIONS OF STATE GOVERNMENT AND WE ARE FALLING BEHIND IN THAT AS WELL AS THE OTHER CORE FUNCTIONS OF STATE GOVERNMENT. EDUCATION, INFRASTRUCTURE, PUBLIC SAFETY. THOSE ISSUES ARE ALL FEELING PRESSURE FROM A LACK OF AVAILABLE MONEY. AND THE STATE ONLY HAS 620-SOME-ODD THOUSAND PEOPLE. WE CAN'T FUND EVERY INITIATIVE THAT EVERYBODY WANTS TO HAVE, EVEN THOUGH EVERY ONE OF THOSE INITIATIVES IS A GREAT AND WONDERFUL THING, BUT UNTIL WE LEARN THAT WE CAN'T KEEP GOING DOWN THE ROAD THAT WE HAVE BEEN GOING ON, WE DON'T WANT TO ABANDON ANY GREAT PROGRAM THAT HAS ACTUALLY WORKED FOR THOSE WHO ARE THE POOREST OF THE POOR.

>> AS YOU BOTH KNOW, WORKING WITH SEN. SHUMLIN AND NOW GOVERNOR SHUMLIN IS SOMEONE WHO'S PERCEIVED AS BEING VERY STRONG POLITICALLY. THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF ISSUES IN THE PAST THAT HE DIDN'T LIKE AND THERE'S OTHER ISSUES HE SUPPORTED AND SURVIVED. HE LAID OUT AN AGENDA, CALLING FOR CHILD CARE UNIONS, DRIVER'S LICENSE TO MIGRANT WORKERS. LEGISLATION FOR MARIJUANA. DO YOU THINK AT THE END OF THIS SESSION, THE GOVERNOR WILL BE PLEASED WITH WHAT HAPPENED WITH HIS AGENDA? WE HAVE A MINUTE AND A HALF LEFT.

>> NOT IF I CAN HELP IT. I SAY THAT SOMEWHAT TONGUE IN CHEEK. I THINK THE GOVERNOR SHOULD BE GIVEN CREDIT FOR HAVING VISION IF MANY DIFFERENT AREAS, BUT I COME BACK TO THE SAME THING I JUST SPOKE ABOUT. WE HAVE TO GRASP THE IDEA THAT WE HAVE A STATE OF VERY LIMITED RESOURCES AND MEANS. UNFORTUNATELY, A LOT OF THINGS THAT WE HAVE BEEN ATTEMPTING TO DO HAVE BEEN BASED ON WHETHER OR NOT A FEDERAL GRANT COMES ALONG TO ASSIST US AND NOW WE'RE WATCHING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAVE DIFFICULTIES AND THE FEDERAL DOLLARS ARE GOING TO START DRYING UP LEFT AND RIGHT, WHICH PUTS EVEN MORE PRESSURE ON IT TO MAINTAIN WHAT WE'RE CURRENTLY TRYING TO DO. I HOPE WHILE HE MAY HAVE ALL OF HIS SPECIFIC ITEMS AND AGENDAS, HE COMES OUT OF THIS FEELING LIKE HE HAS ADVANCED THE DISCUSSION AND HOPEFULLY WE ALL CAN COME UP WITH A BUDGET THAT WORKS AND WE CAN AFFORD.

>> I WANT TO GET SEN. BARUTH'S REACTION TO THAT.

>> WELL, THE LIST YOU GAVE, I'LL JUST CENTER ON ONE ITEM BECAUSE I THINK IT'S INDICATIVE OF THE KIND OF BIPARTISANSHIP WE'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT. JOE AND I GOING BACK NOW SEVERAL YEARS HAVE BEEN WORKING ON A DECRIMINALIZATION BILL TOGETHER AND JOE HAS BEEN DOING WORK IN HIS CAUCUS ON IT AND I'VE BEEN WORK ON MY CAUCUS AND I THINK AT THIS POINT, THERE'S A VERY STRONG BIPARTISAN AGREEMENT THAT THIS MAKES FISCAL SENSE FOR US AS A STATE TO STOP SPENDING RESOURCES ON THE CRIMINALIZATION AND THE SYSTEM INVOLVED IN PUNISHING PEOPLE FOR VERY SMALL AMOUNTS OF MARIJUANA. SO WHEN THE GOVERNOR SAYS HE WANTS TO SIGN THAT, I THINK IT'S POSSIBLE GIVEN THE KIND OF COOPERATION WE HAVE.

>> ALL RIGHT. I WANT TO THANK YOU BOTH. DEMOCRATIC SENATOR JOE BENNING, REPUBLICAN SENATOR PHIL BARUTH. THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR TIME. YOU CAN REACH THEM AT THE STATE HOUSE. I'M SURE THEY WOULD BOTH LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU ON ALL OF THIS. HAVE A GREAT SUNDAY, TAKE CARE.

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