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Lawmakers give in on tax changes

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In the final days of this year's legislative work, finances dominate discussion under the Golden Dome.

"We all share the same goals of lowering rates for all Vermonters and a fairer, more equitable tax structure," said Vt. House Speaker Shap Smith.

As of Monday morning, lawmakers still sought a spending plan. But legislative leadership backed away from a tax reform battle with the Governor. Lawmakers called for closing tax loopholes for the wealthiest Vermonters and lowering rates on all tax brackets.
The Governor, worried the measure might raise additional revenue, said the proposals aren't fully developed.

"We disagree -- the administration and legislature -- okay, that's fine, so we move on and if it was something we felt was necessary to be accomplished this year, we would have done that," said Senate President John Campbell.

"I wouldn't be surprised if the legislature and Shumlin administration do reach common ground for some tax reform next year," said Vt. Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding.

Those working on the spending side of the equation sat down at the negotiating table to find a few additional millions to cut from the yearly budget. Lawmakers needed to navigate differences in House and Senate proposals over social safety net funding, money for a wind siting study, and addiction recovery space.

A mid-afternoon agreement leaves just enough time for the legislature to end work in time for Tuesday night's scheduled close.

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