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YCQM: June 2, 2013 - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

YCQM: June 2, 2013

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

FROM VERMONT'S MOST TRUSTED NEWS SOURCE, WCAX BRINGS YOU YOUR NEWSMAKERS. YOUR NEIGHBORS, THIS IS"YOU CAN QUOTE ME."

>>> GOOD MORNING, EVERYONE, THANKS FOR JOINING US. OUR NEWSMAKER THIS SUNDAY MORNING IS HOUSE SPEAKER SHAP SMITH. MR. SMITH, THANKS FOR BEING HERE!

>> GREAT TO BE HERE.

>> SO LET'S TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE END OF THE SESSION, WHICH SEEMS TO BE AN ISSUE THAT'S GOING TO SPILL OVER INTO NEXT SESSION, WHICH HAS TO DO WITH DEVELOPING SOME BIG CHANGES TO TAX CODES, VERMONT, INCOME TAX CHANGES. WHERE ARE YOU AT WITH THAT RIGHT NOW?

>> I THINK IT'S HELPFUL TO GIVE SOME CONTEXT AROUND THAT. IN 2010 WE WORKED TOGETHER WITH THE BLUE RIBBON TAX COMMISSION TO SEE IF THERE WERE THINGS WE COULD DO TO MAKE THE INCOME TAX CODE FAIR, AND LOWER RATES FOR ALL VERMONTERS.

>> WHAT IS NOT FAIR ABOUT VERMONT'S INCOME TAX SYSTEM RIGHT NOW?

>> WELL, THE INCOME TAX STRUG TOUR IS -- STRUCTURE IS BASED ON A NARROW AMOUNT OF INCOME. MOST STATES, AND THIS GETS A LITTLE TECHNICAL, TAX INCOME ON ADJUSTED GROSS INCOME, SO THEY DON'T LET YOU TAKE ANY DEDUCTIONS. IN VERMONT, WE ACTUALLY TAX ON TAXABLE INCOME. WHAT THAT MEANS IS WE'RE TAXING ON THAT BASE, AND OUR RATES TEND TO BE HIGHER TO RAISE THE SAME AMOUNT OF INCOME THAT OTHER STATES RAISE, AND THE CHALLENGE IS WHEN YOUR INCOME TAX RATES ARE COMPARED TO OTHER STATES, THEY LOOK HIGH, EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE RAISING THE SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY. SO FOR YEARS WE'VE BEEN TRYING TO FIGURE OUT A WAY TO BRING DOWN OUR TAX RATES SO THAT THEY LOOK BETTER COMPARED TO OTHER STATES.

>> SO THIS IS SOMETHING THAT YOU SAY HAS BEEN WORKED ON FOR A WHILE, THE BLUE RIBBON TAX COMMISSION THAT SENT THEIR FINDINGS TO THE LEGISLATURE. SEEMED TO PEOPLE FROM THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN THAT IN THE LAST FEW DAYS, THERE WAS A SCURRY IN THE LEGISLATURE TO TRY TO PASS THIS PLAN IN THE FINAL DAYS WHEN THERE HADN'T BEEN MAYBE AS MANY PUBLIC HEARINGS, IT WASN'T IN THE SPOTLIGHT AS MUCH. WHY ATTEMPT TO DO IT THAT WAY? IF THIS IS SOMETHING THAT HAD BEEN SO CAREFULLY RESEARCHED, PLANNED, WHY SORT OF DO IT IN THE FINAL DAYS AS LIKE A HELTER-SKELTER LET'S GET IT DONE?

>> I THINK ACTUALLY WHAT IS HAPPENING WAS PEOPLE ACTUALLY WEREN'T REALLY PAYING ATTENTION TO WHAT HAD BEEN HAPPENING IN THE LEGISLATURE. THE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE IN 2010 TOOK A LOT OF TESTIMONY ON THIS IN 2011, ON THE BLUE RIBBON TAX COMMISSION, BUT EARLIER THIS YEAR, IN 2013, WHEN WE WERE LOOKING AT POSSIBLE REVENUE, WE DID A LOT OF WORK IN THE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE, AND IN THE HOUSE, TALKING ABOUT WAYS THAT WE COULD BROADEN THE BASE, AND POSSIBLY EITHER LOWER REVENUE OR LOWER RATES OR RAISE REVENUE. THERE WAS A FAIR AMOUNT OF WORK DONE TO FIGURE OUT A WAY TO LIMIT THE AMOUNT OF THE ITEMIZED DEDUCTIONS. AND THAT WAS PART OF THE PLAN THAT WAS PUT FORWARD IN MARCH. SO THERE HAD BEEN WORK DONE ON IT, AND WHEN WE -- WE USED THAT LIMITING OF ITEMIZED DEDUCTIONS TO RAISE SOME REVENUE IN 2015. WHEN IT TURNED OUT WE DIDN'T NEED THAT REVENUE, WE DECIDED THAT MAYBE WHAT WE WOULD USE THAT FOR IS A WAY TO LOWER RATES.

>> BEING LEGISLATION, YOU ARE BIG ON COMMITTEE PROCESS AND LETTING THINGS WORK THROUGH THE PROPER CHANNELS. WHY NOT LET THIS COME TO THE FULL SENATE FOR A VOTE, THE FULL HOUSE. WHY DO THE END OF SESSION BACK DOOR MANEUVERING WITH THE GOVERNOR TO TRY TO GET THIS, WHICH AS PEOPLE WHO WERE TRACKING THIS KNOWS, IT WAS NOT SUCCESSFUL BECAUSE GOVERNOR SHUMLIN A POSED IT. HE CALLED IT POLICY ON THE FLY. -- OPPOSED IT.

>> I DISAGREE WITH HIS ASSESSMENT ABOUT POLICY ON THE FLY. BUT I ALSO THINK IT IS GOOD POLICY, AND I DON'T THINK THAT IT SHOULD BE OPPOSED ON PROCESS GROUNDS. SO FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE, WE FELT LIKE SINCE THIS WAS GOING TO BE A CHANGE IN 2015 ANYWAY, IT WAS SOMETHING WE COULD DO NEXT YEAR, SO WE FIGURED, OKAY, WE HAVE SOME CONCERNS ABOUT WHETHER WE'RE DOING THIS TOO QUICKLY. WE'LL SPEND SOME TIME OVER THE SUMMER. WE THINK IT IS A GOOD IDEA, WE THINK IT WILL HOLD UP. IT IS GOING TO LOWER TAXES FOR HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF VERMONTERS, LOWER TAX RATES FOR ALL VERMONTERS, SO IF IT'S GOOD POLICY, AND YOU HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT THE PROCESS, HEY, WE'LL TAKE THE TIME, WE'LL DO IT IN JANUARY, AND WE CAN HAVE A CONVERSATION ABOUT THE POLICY, NOT THE PROCESS IF JANUARY.

>> DO YOU THINK THERE WAS BAD COMMUNICATION BETWEEN THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT AND THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE, THEN, BECAUSE IT SEEMS LIKE THIS WAS SOMETHING THAT WAS ONE OF THE PIECES THAT HELD UP AND MADE IT SPILL INTO NEXT WEEK, STILL A JURNDZ ON TIME -- ADJOURNED ON TIME, BUT WHY DID YOU NOT KNOW THAT GOING INTO THIS THAT THE GOVERNOR HAD THESE CONCERNS, AND WHY, AS YOU SAID, IF THIS IS IS A GOOD BILL, LET'S HAVE IT GO THROUGH THE FULL PROCESS, NO NEED TO RUSH IT, WHY HAVE THIS BECOME A STUMBLING BLOCK TO PULL IT BACK AND SAY, OH, JUST KIDDING, WE'LL DO THIS NEXT YEAR?

>> TO BE FAIR, I THINK ACTUALLY WE PROBABLY WOULDN'T HAVE ADJOURNED UNTIL THE NEXT WEEK ANYWAY. WE WERE PUSHING VERY HARD. YOU SET A DEADLINE, YOU ARE TRYING TO MEET THAT DEAD LINE. TYPICALLY YOU END UP GOING A DAY OR TWO OVER.

>> THIS IS CERTAINLY ONE OF THE ISSUES THAT WAS A STUMBLING BLOCK FOR ADJOURNMENT.

>> CERTAINLY A STUMBLING BLOCK, BUT I DON'T THINK IT WAS THE ONLY ONE. WE HADN'T CLOSED THE BUDGET DEAL YET. WE WERE CLOSE, BUT WE HADN'T GOTTEN TO THE FINAL.

>> I THINK THEY WERE WAITING TO SEE WHAT WAS DONE ON THE TAX ISSUE.

>> WELL, IN THE END, I ACTUALLY THINK THAT IT WAS WORTH RAISING THE ISSUE, AND --

>> WHY? WHY RAISE -- IS IT TO GET VERMONTERS READY FOR THIS NEXT YEAR? WHAT WAS THE POINT OF HAVING SUCH A HIGH PROFILE CLASH WITH THE GOVERNOR AND THE WANING DAYS OF THE SESSION OVER AN ISSUE THAT YOU THINK YOU CAN PASS NEXT YEAR?

>> WELL, I THINK IT'S GOOD TO PUT IT ON THE TABLE. THERE WAS A POSSIBILITY THAT A WE WERE GOING TO BE ABLE TO REACH SOME AGREEMENT.

>> WHY DO YOU THINK THERE COULD BE AGREEMENT ON THIS?

>> WELL, BECAUSE WE'VE HAD CONVERSATIONS WITH THE GOVERNOR AND THE ADMINISTRATION IN THE PAST ABOUT SIMILAR PROPOSALS WITH REGARD TO THE BLUE RIBBON TAX COMMISSION. WE HAVE HAD LENGTHY CONVERSATIONS IN 2011. THERE WAS A POSSIBILITY THAT WE COULD MAKE IT GO. NOW, DOES IT MEAN THAT, YOU KNOW, IT WAS THE WORST THING IN THE WORLD THAT WE HAD A CONVERSATION ABOUT IT? NO. BECAUSE I THINK IT IS ACTUALLY AT THE FROER KSH FOREFRONT OF PEOPLE'S MINDS. PEOPLE KNOW IT IS SOMETHING THAT WE ARE GOING TO BE DOING NEXT YEAR, AND IN THE END, IF IT'S SOMETHING THAT IS GOING TO LOWER TAGSES FOR -- LOWER TAXES FOR HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF VERMONTERS AND LOWER TAX RATES FOR ALL VERMONTERS, I THINK THAT'S A GOOD THING. SHOULD HAVE BEEN HIGHLIGHTED AT THE END OF THE SESSION, AND I THINK IT SHOULD BE ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE DO AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SESSION.

>> YOU CALL IT CONVERSATION, A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO ARE STATE HOUSE OBSERVERS AND POLITICAL ANALYSTS SAY IT WAS A MAJOR CLASH, SHOWDOWN BETWEEN THE GOVERNOR AND THE LEDGE LAY SEWER OVER THIS -- LEGISLATURE OVER THIS. THE LEGISLATURE KEPT KIND OF GOING DOWN THIS PATH OF, HEY, WE WANT TO DO THIS, HEY, WE WANT TO DO THIS. THE GOVERNOR HAD ONE OF THE MOST CLEAR AND CON STIES PRESS -- CONCISE PRESS CONFERENCES WHERE HE SAID NO WAY, WE WILL NOT DO THIS, WE SHALL NOT DO THIS. YOU GUYS THOUGHT ABOUT IT OVER THE WEEKEND, YOU SAID, OKAY, WE ARE NOT GOING TO DO THIS. WHAT MAKES YOU THINK, WHAT INDICATIONS DO YOU HAVE FROM GOVERNOR SHUMLIN DIRECTLY THAT HE IS GOING TO LET THIS PASS NEXT YEAR BECAUSE YOU MENTIONED IT LOWERS RATES FOR HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF VERMONTERS. HE IS CONCERNED BECAUSE IT WILL HIT HIGH-INCOME EARNERS, EVEN THOUGH THEIR RATES ARE LOWERED, IN ESSENCE THEY WILL BE PAYING MORE TAGSES WHICH HE SAYS IS A -- TAXES WHICH IS A NON-STARTER FOR HIM.

>> IT TREATS ALL VERMONTERS THE SAME WAY. IT LOWERS TAX RATES FOR EVERYBODY, AND IT ACTUALLY -- IT LIMITS THE AMOUNT OF ITEMIZED DEDUCTIONS FOR ALL VERMONTERS. IT DOESN'T HIT -- IT D AND LOWER TAX RATES, THAT'S A GREAT THING. I THINK THAT'S A GOOD STORY TO TELL. I THINK VERMONTERS WILL BE HAPPY ABOUT IT.

>> IT GETS BACK TO THE KERNEL OF MY QUESTION, THOUGH. THE GOVERNOR WAS VERY CLEAR IN THE WANING DAYS OF HIS SESSION THAT THIS WAS SOMETHING HE DID NOT LIKE BECAUSE THE PORTION OF VERMONTERS YOU ADMIT WILL HAVE TO PAY HIGHER RATES BECAUSE DEDUCTIONS WILL BE CHANGED FOR THEM, ALTHOUGH IT IS UNCLEAR WHO AND HOW MANY AND WHAT THE INCREASE WOULD BE, IS WHAT YOU'RE TELLING ME RIGHT NOW. WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THAT GOVERNOR SHUMLIN WILL IN A FEW MONTHS LOOK AT THIS PLAN AND SAY, WOW, LEGISLATURE, YOU GOT IT RIGHT, I GOT IT WRONG?

>> SO WHEN WE HAVE A TALKED IN THE PAST, I THINK THAT HE IS IN AGREEMENT THAT WITH THE GOAL OF THE BLUE RIBBON TAX COMMISSION, WHICH WAS TO LOWER TAGS RATES FOR ALL VERMONTERS -- TAX RATES FOR ALL VERMONTERS, EVEN UNDER THE BLUE RIBBON TAX COMMISSION, THERE WOULD BE SOME WINNERS AND SOME LOSERS IN TAX REFORM, THAT'S ALWAYS GB -- GOING TO BE THE CASE. IF YOU CAN LOWER TAX RATES FOR ALL VERMONTERS, WHICH I BELIEVE IS THE GOAL THAT THE LEGISLATURE AND THE GOVERNOR SHARE --

>> HAS HE TOLD YOU THAT? BECAUSE I GUESS -- IS THERE SOMETHING THAT HE'S TELLING YOU BEHIND THE SCENES THAT HE'S NOT PUBLICLY SAYING? BECAUSE ALL INDICATIONS WE'RE HEARING IS THAT THE ADMINISTRATION SAYS WE'RE OPEN, WE'RE LOOKING AT THE PLAN, BUT THE TONE FROM THE GOVERNOR SEEMS VERY CLEAR.

>> I DON'T THINK IT'S AS HIGH A PRIORITY FOR THE GOVERNOR AS IT MIGHT BE FOR THE LEGISLATURE, BUT I DO KNOW IN DISCUSSIONS I'VE HAD WITH HIM, AND YOU CAN GO BACK AND ROLL THE TAPE FROM CONVERSATIONS HE'S HAD WITH THE MEDIA PREVIOUSLY, HE AGREES WITH THE OVERALL GOAL OF THE BLUE RIBBON TAX COMMISSION, WHICH IS TO LOWER RATES FOR ALL VERMONTERS. AND I THINK THAT IF WE'RE ON THE SAME PAGE THERE, THAT'S COMMON GROUND THAT WE CAN WORK OF -- OFF OF AND GET TO A TAX REFORM PACKAGE THAT EVERYBODY WILL BUY.

>> SO IS THAT ONE OF THE TOP PRIORITIES RETURNING NEXT YEAR FOR YOU?

>> I CERTAINLY THINK THAT THIS WILL BE ONE OF THE PRIORITIES OF THE LEGISLATURE. I MEAN, LOOK, WE HAVE A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT PRIORITIES. ONE OF THEM, OBVIOUSLY, IS TO CONTINUE THE SXHEK GROWTH -- ECONOMIC GROWTH THAT'S HAPPENING IN THE STATE OF VERMONT. WE HAVE ONE OF THE LOWEST UNEMPLOYMENT RATES IN THE COUNTRY. WE HAVE THE LOWEST UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IN NEW ENGLAND. WE'RE ONE AND A HALF POINTS BELOW NEW HAMPSHIRE. WE NEED TO CONTINUE THAT TREND. WE NEED TO GROW INCOMES, WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THE PEOPLE ARE MORE PROSPEROUS IN VERMONT.

>> SO GROW INCOMES, SO SOMEONE MIGHT ARGUE IF YOU'RE LOOKING TO GROW INCOMES, WHY HIT SOME PEOPLE'S INCOMES AT A HIGHER RATE, AT A HARDER TIME?

>> WELL, WHAT I'M SAYING IS, WE'RE GOING TO TRY TO ACTUALLY LOWER TAX RATES FOR ALL VERMONTERS.

>> WE'RE SAYING THE SAME THING. YOU'RE LOWERING RATES, BUT JUST TO BE CLEAR, FOR SOME PEOPLE IN VERMONT UNDER YOUR PLAN, BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT GETTING DEDUCTIONS, THEY ARE ESSENTIALLY PAYING MORE.

>> AND WE'RE TRYING TO MAKE SURE THAT THE TAX CODE IS A LITTLE SIMPLER, LOWER RATES, AND WE THINK THAT ACTUALLY IF THAT HAPPENS, YOU KNOW, IT WILL ACTUALLY HELP SPUR ECONOMIC GROWTH IN THE STATE OF VERMONT.

>> SO WHERE IS THE LEGISLATURE AT WITH HAVING THAT PLAN FINALIZED, HAVING THOSE NUMBERS, BECAUSE, AGAIN, YOU WERE WORKING OFF OF NUMBERS THAT WERE A COUPLE YEARS OLD, JUST ONE OF GOVERNOR SHUMLIN'S CRITICISMS OF THE PLAN.

>> SO WE WERE WORKING OFF OF THE LATEST TAX DATA THAT WAS AVAILABLE, WHICH WAS FOR 2010. WHAT I WOULD EXPECT IS WHEN WE SEE THE 2011 DATA, WE'LL TAKE A LOOK AT THAT, WE'LL WORK ON, YOU KNOW, HOW WE MIGHT APPLY WHAT WE WERE DOING WITH THE ITEMIZED DEDUCTIONS IN 2011, ON THE 2011 DATA, AND I WOULD EXPECT US TO MOVE FORWARD WITH SOME HEARINGS FROM THE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE --

>> OVER THE SUMMER OR IN THE FALL?

>> IN THE FALL. AND I WOULD EXPECT US TO GO FORWARD THEN.

>> ALL RIGHT. WE HAVE A LOT OF OTHER ISSUES TO TALK ABOUT. A LOT OF OTHER BILLS THAT HAPPENED THIS PAST LEGISLATIVE SESSION. STAY WITH US. WE'LL COVER A LOT OF THE OTHER BIG BIL

>>> WELCOME BACK, EVERYONE. WE ARE CONTINUING OUR INTERVIEW WITH HOUSE SPEAKER SHAP SMITH ABOUT THE SESSION THAT JUST ENDED. WE'VE COVERED INCOME TAX PROPOSALS, I THINK, QUITE THOROUGHLY, YOU WOULD SAY.

>> YES.

>> BUT LET'S FOCUS ON SOME OF THE OTHER BILLS THAT DID AND DID NOT PASS. I'M INTERESTED IN THIS GENETIC MODIFIED ORGANISM LABELING BILL. THAT DID NOT PASS THIS IS A BILL THAT'S BEEN TALKED ABOUT IN THE LEGISLATURE FOR YEARS AND YEARS AND YEARS.

>> YES.

>> WHERE IS THIS GOING NEXT YEAR?

>> WELL, IT DID ACTUALLY PASS IN THE HOUSE. WE PUT TOGETHER A BILL THAT REQUIRED FOOD TO BE LABELED IF IT HAS GENETICALLY --

>> IT DID NOT BECOME LAW.

>> YEAH. SO IT DID PASS IN THE HOUSE. I EXPECT THAT THE SENATE WILL TAKE IT UP NEXT YEAR. AND IT WOULD NOT SURPRISE ME IF THEY PASS AND IT GOES TO THE GOVERNOR'S DESK. YOU KNOW, THIS IS SOMETHING THAT MANY OTHER COUNTRIES DO, MOST OF EUROPEAN COUNTRIES LABEL IT. IN FACT, THERE WAS ADVERTISING BY MONSANTO IN THE UNITED KINGDOM SAYING THAT THEY WERE FINE WITH THE RIGHT TO KNOW LAWS THAT WERE THERE. SO I THINK IT IS TIME -- ITS TIME IS COMING. PEOPLE OUGHT TO KNOW WHAT IN THEIR FOOD, THEY OUGHT TO HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW WHAT IS IN THEIR FOOD. I THINK IT'S COMING. I EXPECT IT TO PASS NEXT YEAR.

>> YOU ARE AWARE, ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT ANY LEGAL RAMIFICATIONS FROM THIS BILL?

>> WELL, YOU KNOW, WE LOOKED AT IT VERY CLOSELY. WE CAN'T LET THE THREAT OF A LAWSUIT BE WHY WE DON'T PASS LEGISLATION. WHEN PEOPLE IN THE STATE OF VERMONT WANT THAT LEGISLATION, SO WE KNOW THAT PEOPLE OF VERMONT REALLY THINK THIS IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO. AND I THINK WE'RE GOING TO MOVE FORWARD WITH IT. I THINK WE'VE DRAFTED A LEGISLATION IN SUCH A WAY SO THAT IT WILL BE DIFFICULT FOR IT TO BE CHALLENGED SUCCESSFULLY BY THE BIO TECH INDUSTRY.

>> THIS NEXT BILL HAS MANY NAMES, DEMANDING ON HOW PEOPLE VIEW IT. -- DEPENDING HOW PEOPLE VIEW IT. I THINK IT WAS CALLED END OF LIFE CHOICES, SOME CALL IT DEATH WITH DIGNITY, OTHERS PHYSICIAN ASSISTED SUICIDE. CLEARLY A CHARGED ISSUE. IT TOOK A LOT OF ODD MACI -- MACINATIONS. THE GOVERNOR SAID IT WAS A MUST-PASS BILL AT THE START OF THE LEGISLATION. DID YOU KNOW IT WAS GOING TO PASS?

>> I KNEW IT HAD SUPPORT IN THE HOUSE. IT WAS UNCLEAR IT HAD ENOUGH SUPPORT IN THE SENATE TO MAKE IT THROUGH. SOMETHING IN A WE HAD VOTED ON IN THE HOUSE IN 2007, I HAD SPORDZ IT THEN -- SUPPORTED IT THEN, SO IT WAS CLEAR TO US THAT WE HAD TO SUPPORT, AS IT GOT CLOSER, IT WAS CLEAR THAT IT WAS GOING TO BE PRETTY CLOSE IN THE SENATE, AND IT WOULD BE CLOSE IN THE HOUSE, ULTIMATELY IT DID MOVE FORWARD. I WANT TO SAY THAT ONE OF MY PROUDEST MOMENTS BEING SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE WAS THE DEBATE ON THIS BILL, BECAUSE I THOUGHT IT WAS RESPECTFUL. EACH SIDE REALLY PUT FORWARD PASSION ED AND PASSIONATE ARGUMENTS. I THOUGHT IT WAS WHAT DEMOCRACY SHOULD BE ABOUT.

>> WERE THE NUMBERS ON THE WALL AND THIS WAS GOING TO HAPPEN WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE HOUSE, PARTICULARLY THE STRONG SUPPORT FROM GOVERNOR SHUMLIN, WHO IN HIS FIRST TERM IN OFFICE DIDN'T PUSH IT, BUT NOW MAYBE THE SECOND TERM FELT THIS WAS A PRIORITY?

>> I DID NOT ACTUALLY THINK THAT IT WAS A DONE DEAL, THAT IT WOULD PASS. IT WAS CLEAR THAT IT WOULD BE TOUCH AND GO ALL THE WAY THROUGH. AND SO, YOU KNOW, AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SESSION, I HAD SAID THAT IT LOOKED LIKE WE HAD SUPPORT IN THE SENATE, WE WOULD TRY TO MOVE IT IN THE HOUSE. EVEN THOUGH IT CAME OVER IN A FORM THAT WAS NOT ACCEPTABLE TO THE HOUSE, WE THOUGHT THAT WE COULD PUT SOMETHING TOGETHER THAT WOULD WORK BETTER THAN WHAT THE SENATE DID, AND ULTIMATELY IT DID PASS.

>> WERE THERE ANY BILLS THIS SESSION THAT SURPRISED YOU WHEN THEY PASSED OR DIDN'T PASS?

>> UM, YOU KNOW --

>> OVERALL.

>> NOT REALLY. THE SESSION SORT OF WENT TO SOME DEGREE HOW I EXPECTED IT WOULD GO.

>> DID YOU FORGET THE TAX BILL AT THE END?

>> NO, I DIDN'T THINK THE TAX BILL WOULD IN THE END. I HAVE SOME PERSPECTIVE NOW. I HAVE BEEN SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE FOR FIVE YEARS. I DON'T THINK THERE HAS BEEN A YEAR THAT I'VE BEEN SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE THAT THERE WASN'T SOME BLOWUP BETWEEN THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH AND THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH RIGHT BEFORE WE CLOSED ALL THE DEALS. IT IS SORT OF THE WAY THE PROCESS WORKS. IT'S AS IF THERE HAS TO BE SOMETHING THAT BREAKS THE DAM OPEN TO ACTUALLY GET EVERYTHING TO A CLOSE.

>> YOU MENTIONED YOU'VE BEEN SPEAKER FOR FIVE YEARS. YOU ARE GOING TO ENTER YOUR SIXTH YEAR, DO YOU THINK THAT YOU ARE GOING TO CONTINUE AS SPEAKER? IS THIS GOING TO BE YOUR LAST TERM?

>> I DON'T KNOW. YOU KNOW, EVERY TWO YEARS I SIT DOWN WITH MY FAMILY, I SIT DOWN, YOU KNOW, MY WIFE AND KIDS, WE TALK ABOUT WHETHER ARE I SHOULD RUN AGAIN, AND I EXPECT THAT WE'LL DO THAT AGAIN. IT'S FUNNY, MY KIDS HAVE TAKEN A DIFFERENT TACK, THEY USED TO NOT WANT ME TO RUN AGAIN. NOW THEY DO. I DON'T QUITE UNDERSTAND --

>> THEY ARE GETTING OLDER.

>> THEY WANT ME OUT OF THE HOUSE MORE, I GUESS. YOU KNOW, THERE IS AN EXPIRATION DATE, I THINK, AND, YOU KNOW, IF I RUN AGAIN IN '14, I WOULDN'T EXPECT MYSELF TO RUN AGAIN IN 2016. IT'S BEEN A GREAT JOB, I LOVE IT. WE'LL SEE WHERE THINGS GO.

>> SO IT WILL BE ALMOST BEFORE YOU DECIDE YOU WILL BE IN OFFICE AS SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE ELECTED BY REPRESENTATIVES FOR SIX YEARS. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN WHEN YOU'RE IN SESSION AS FAR AS THE IMPACT ON FAMILY LIFE?

>> IT'S TOUGH. I MEAN, PARTICULARLY THE LAST FOUR WEEKS OF THE SESSION. THREE TO FOUR WEEKS OF THE SESSION. I LEAVE THE HOUSE AROUND 6:30 IN THE MYRTH YORK AND I GET HOME AT 10:00 OR 10:30 EVERY NIGHT. SO IT MEANS THAT I ASK MY SPOUSE, MY WIFE, AND MY FAMILY, TO REALLY COVER FOR ME FOR THREE WEEKS, AND MY WIFE HAS A FULL-TIME JOB. IT'S REALLY TRICKY. AND I DON'T GET TO SEE MY KIDS. I GO HOME EVERY NIGHT, SO THAT I GET A CHANCE TO GET THEM UP IN THE MORNING. AND THAT MAKES IT ALL WORTHWHILE, BUT IT TAKES A LOT OUT OF YOU. I MEAN, IT IS NO DIFFERENT THAN A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE REALLY TOUGH JOBS.

>> WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT BALANCE IN THE LEGISLATURE, YOU WORK IN A LAW OFFICE, YOU HAVE BEEN ABLE TO CARVE OUT TIME TO WORK AT THE LEGISLATURE FOR SEVERAL YEARS BECAUSE YOU ARE A REPRESENTATIVES BEFORE WERE YOU -- REPRESENTATIVE BEFORE YOU WERE A HOUSE SPEAKER. WHAT ARE YOU NOTICING WITH THE MAKEUP OF THE LEGISLATURE AND PEOPLE WILLING TO MAKE THE FINANCIAL SACRIFICE AND TIME COMMITMENT TO DO THIS, ARE YOU WORRIED THAT WE'RE MOVING IN SOME ASPECTS AWAY FROM A CITIZEN LEGISLATURE, BECAUSE A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO SEEM TO BE INTERESTED SOMETIMES SAY TO ME, I JUST DON'T KNOW HOW I CAN FIND THE TIME, I DON'T KNOW HOW I CAN MAKE THE FINANCIAL SACRIFICE TO CARVE OUT FOUR MONTHS OR WHATEVER THE SESSION IS?

>> THERE'S NO DOUBT THAT IT IS REALLY DIFFICULT, AND IT'S HARD WHEN WE GO OUT AND RECRUIT TO GET PEOPLE TO BE WILLING TO PUT ASIDE FOUR MONTHS. THAT'S ONE OF THE REASONS THAT I REALLY TRY TO SAY, HEY, WE'RE GOING TO BE HERE 16, 17 WEEKS, BECAUSE I UNDERSTAND THAT PEOPLE HAVE TO GO BACK TO JOBS, PEOPLE WHO HAVE JOBS. AND I WANTED TO CONTINUE TO BE A CITIZEN LEGISLATOR, BECAUSE I THINK THAT WE DON'T WANT TO BECOME A NEW YORK, OR A MASSACHUSETTS, OR A CONNECTICUT. BECAUSE I THINK THAT BEING IN THE COMMUNITY, WORKING IN YOUR COMMUNITY, HAVING A JOB, THAT KIND OF PERSPECTIVE REALLY IS HELPFUL WHEN YOU GET TO THE LEGISLATURE. AND WHILE WE'RE MAKING LAWS, PEOPLE BRING THEIR REAL LIFE EXPERIENCES TO THE ROLE AS LEGISLATOR, AND I THINK IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE, AND MAKES LEGISLATION BETTER.

>> DO YOU THINK SERVING IN THE LEGISLATURE IS SOMETHING THAT ONLY PEOPLE WHO HAVE SOME FINANCIAL COMFORT CAN DO?

>> BASED ON THE PEOPLE WHO ARE IN THE LEGISLATURE, I WOULDN'T AGREE WITH THAT ASSERTION. AND, YOU KNOW, I THINK PEOPLE HAVE TO MAKE SACRIFICES. I KNOW A LOT OF THE YOUNGER MEMBERS WHO ARE THERE, I MEAN, THEY ARE ON THE EDGE, YOU KNOW, THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE STUDENT LOANS, THEY ARE TRYING TO FILL IN THE GAPS WHEN THEY ARE OUTSIDE OF THE LEGISLATURE WORKING, AND THEY ARE NOT PEOPLE OF MEANS. THEY DON'T HAVE A LOFT OF MONEY. SO -- A LOT OF MONEY. I THINK PEOPLE MAKE IT WORK WHO DON'T HAVE A LOT OF MONEY, AND, YOU KNOW, I HOPE THAT IT WILL ALWAYS BE AN INSTITUTION THAT ALLOWS FOR THAT.

>> ONE OF THE THINGS YOU'VE HAD TO DEAL WITH AS SPEAKER, YOU HAVE SEEN YOUR NUMBERS GROW AND GROW AND GROW, YOU'VE SEEN THE REPUBLICAN NUMBERS IN THE HOUSE SHRINK AND SHRINK EACH ELECTION. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS? AND DO YOU THINK THAT'S GOOD FOR DEMOCRACY TO HAVE SUCH A BALANCE THAT IS OUT OF WHACK?

>> I THINK PART OF MY CHALLENGE AS SPEAKER IS TRYING TO MAKE SURE THAT WE INTEGRATE PEOPLE FROM MINORITY PARTIES INTO THE CONVERSATION AND MAKE SURE THAT THE DISPARITY AND THE NUMBERS ACTUALLY DOESN'T MEAN THAT PEOPLE LOSE THEIR VOICE ENTIRELY. SO, YOU KNOW, FOR INSTANCE, I HAVE THE CHAIR OF THE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE IS A REPUBLICAN FROM COLCHESTER. IN MANY OTHER STATES THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN. AND YOU KNOW, HE'S A TRUSTED PERSON WHO I REALLY APPRECIATE HIS LEADSER SHIP, AND I -- LEADERSHIP. I TRY TO DO THAT WITH MOST OF THE OTHER COMMITTEES AS WELL.

>> SO LET'S TALK ABOUT A FEW OTHER BIG ISSUES OUT THERE. HEALTHCARE IS SOMETHING A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT. WHEN DO YOU THINK VERMONTERS WILL ARE FINALLY LEARN WHAT THIS MOVE TOWARDS SINGLE PAYER EVENTUALLY DOWN THE ROAD IN 201 -- 2017 WILL COST, HOW IT WILL BE PAID FOR?

>> WHAT I THINK WE ARE GOING TO DO RIGHT NOW OVER THE NEXT SIX TO EIGHT MONTHS, WE ARE GOING TO BE CONCENTRATING ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE HEALTHCARE EXCHANGE. I DO THINK THAT IN 2015, WE WILL BE LOOKING TOWARD HOW WE WOULD FINANCE THE SINGER PAYER SYSTEM, AND SO I WOULD EXPECT AS WE APPROACH 2015, YOU'LL HEAR THE NUMBERS AND YOU'LL SEE WHAT THE PROPOSALS LOOK LIKE FOR FINANCING.

>> VERMONTERS HAVE HEARD THIS BEFORE, THAT THEY WERE GOING TO GET THE FINANCING PLAN, AND THEN THEY DIDN'T. IS THIS JUST AN ISSUE WHERE YOU GUYS ARE KICKING US DOWN THE CURB, BECAUSE YOU KNOW WHEN PEOPLE FINALLY SEE WHAT THIS IS GOING TO ENTAIL, IT'S GOING TO BE A TOUGH SELL?

>> WELL, I THINK THAT IT'S HARD TO PREDICT FIVE YEARS BEFORE YOU'RE GOING TO DO SOMETHING WHAT IT'S REALLY GOING TO COST, AND REALLY TO UNDERSTAND WHAT THE SHAPE OF IT IS TO COST IT ALL OUT. AND I THINK IT PROBABLY MAKES MORE SENSE FOR DO THE FINANCING IN '15, IF IT'S GOING TO START IN 2017. YOU HAVE SHARPER PENCIL, YOU KNOW WHAT IT'S GOING TO -- YOU HAVE A CLEARER IDEA OF WHAT IT'S GOING TO COST. SO I THINK IT ACTUALLY MAKES TO WAIT UNTIL 2015. I UNDERSTAND PEOPLE'S CONCERNS. I THINK OVER THE NEXT YEAR AND A HALF WE'LL HAVE A BETTER SENSE OF WHAT'S GOING ON.

>> WHY NOT JUST GIVE A LOOSE FRAMEWORK, BECAUSE THERE HAS BEEN A LOOSE FRAMEWORK ON WHAT THE OVERALL COST COULD BE. THAT HAS COME OUT. SO WHY NOT GIVE THEM A ROUGH IDEA, SAY THIS IS WHAT SOME OF THE MECHANISMS COULD BE, SOME OF THE TAXES TO PAY FOR IT.

>> I THINK WE'RE GETTING A BETTER HANDLE ON WHAT THE HEALTHCARE COSTS ARE GOING TO BE. WHAT'S INTERESTING TO ME IS THERE'S BEEN ACTUALLY A SHARP DECELERATION OF HEALTHCARE INFLATION. SO COSTS HAVE NOT BEEN INCREASING AS MUCH, SO THAT'S GOING TO ACTUALLY IMPACT WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE THE TOTAL COST OF THE SYSTEM WILL BE. IF WE HAD ESTIMATED WHAT THE COST WAS TWO YEARS AGO, IT MIGHT ACTUALLY BE MORE THAN WE THINK IT'S GOING TO BE A YEAR OR TWO FROM NOW.

>> ARE YOU WORRIED THAT WHEN PEOPLE SEE THE TAXES THAT ARE NEEDED TO PAY FOR THIS, THAT IT WILL DERAIL THE PROCESS?

>> I THINK THAT'S ALWAYS A CONCERN, AND I THINK THAT THE ONLY WAY IT IT WILL HAPPEN IS IF YOU CAN SHOW PEOPLE THAT THE ECONOMICS OF THE SINGLE PAYER SYSTEM ARE GOING TO BE BETTER THAN THE ECONOMICS OF THE CURRENT SYSTEM.

>> YOU ARE NOT A BETTING PERSON, BUT WHAT DO YOU THINK THE CHANCES ARE THAT IN 2017 VERMONT HAS A SINGLE PAYER SYSTEM?

>> I THINK THERE'S A GOOD CHANCE IT WILL HAPPEN.

>> OKAY. ONE OF THE OTHER BILLS THAT PASSED HAS TO DO WITH DECRIMINALIZING SMALL AMOUNTS OF MARIJUANA. YOU HAVE YOUNG CHILDREN. DO YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS ABOUT THE MESSAGE THIS SENDS TO KIDS?

>> WL -- WELL, YOU KNOW, IN THE PAST I HAVE EXPRESSED SOME PRETTY STRONG RESERVATIONS ABOUT THE BILL. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT ACTUALLY MADE A DIFFERENCE FOR ME IN SUPPORTING THE BILL WAS THE FACT THAT PEOPLE WHO HAVE MADE A MISTAKE WHEN THEY WERE YOUNGER AND STILL HAVE A CRIMINAL RECORDS BECAUSE OF THIS MARIJUANA POSSESSION, I WAS JUST TALKING TO SOMEBODY TODAY WHO COULDN'T GET A LICENSE, A LICENSE FOR A BIGS, BECAUSE -- FOR A BUSINESS BECAUSE OF A PRIOR CONVICTION FOR MARIJUANA. THAT SEEMS TO ME NOT TO BE WISE PUBLIC POLICY, SO IT SEEMED TO ME THAT AS LONG AS WE PUT THIS TOGETHER WITH GOOD TREATMENT, AND MAKING IT CLEAR, LIKE WE DO WITH ALCOHOL, THAT IT SHOULDN'T BE USED UNLESS IN MODERATION, I THINK WE'RE OKAY.

>> ANY PREDICTIONS FOR NEXT YEAR WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN?

>> WELL, YOU KNOW, I THINK WE'LL HAVE A TOUGH BUDGET YEAR AGAIN NEXT YEAR. I THINK THE ECONOMY IS GROWING, SO I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO A BETTER ECONOMY, MORE VER MOSTERS HAVING JOB -- VERMONTERS HAVING JOBS, AND YOU KNOW, THERE'S ALWAYS GOING TO BE SOMETHING THAT WE CAN'T PREDICT THAT'S GOING TO BE SORTED OF ENFLAME THE SESSION. I DON'T KNOW WHAT IT WILL BE NEXT YEAR.

>> NO PREDICTIONS ON THAT?

>> NO PREDICTIONS.

>> ALL RIGHT. HOUSE SPEAKER SHAP SMITH, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR TIME. YOU CAN REACH HIM DURING THE SESSION AT THE STATE HOUSE AND I GUESS OUTSIDE THE STATION THEY CAN STILL CALL YOUR OFFICE IN MONTPELIER.

>>IE.

>> THANK YOU VERY MUCH. AND THANK YOU FOR JOINING US. HAVE A GREAT SUNDAY. TAKE CARE. Captioning provided by Caption Associates, LLC captionassociates.com

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