Vt. lawmakers try to wrap up money matters before adjournment - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. lawmakers try to wrap up money matters before adjournment

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A flurry of paperwork and progress between budget negotiators in Montpelier. Vt. lawmakers are close to signing off on a $1.3 billion budget.

Although Democrats control the House, Senate and governor's seat, appropriations chair Martha Heath says this was the hardest budget she's ever worked on because lawmakers liked the governor's proposals, but not how he paid for them. And in the end all sides decided not to raise taxes to fund the budget.

"This year it was hard to see where the budget should end up," said Heath, D-Westford.

The budget includes the limits on welfare benefits like Reach Up that the governor wanted. There's also a 3 percent increase for the University of Vermont, the state colleges and VSAC.

Reporter Kristin Carlson: It sounds like you are leaning more toward tomorrow for a budget deal?

Rep. Martha Heath: I'm not sure it's realistic today, but you should never say never. Not sure how late we will be here today.

Vt. House Speaker Shap Smith continued to push for a Saturday adjournment, getting lawmakers out a week early.

"It feels like the feeling that you get at the end of the session," Smith said.

But a slew of unresolved issues remained, from a bill to encourage communities to cut school spending to a bill allowing towns to enact local option taxes to increasing the cigarette tax, which Governor Shumlin is strongly against.

Kristin Carlson: You had the tax committee chairs in there. Is that the main sticking point now?

Rep. Shap Smith: There are a number of different balls in the air; that's one of them... If we can reach agreement on these particular issues by the end of the day today, I think we can make Saturday. We are still working on it. My hope is we get out Saturday.

Kristin Carlson: It seems like there is caution there. You are saying Saturday might not happen?

Rep. Shap Smith: There is still a lot to do.

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