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YCQM: March 16, 2014 - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

YCQM: March 16, 2014

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

>>> AND GOOD MORNING, EVERYONE. THIS SUNDAY, WE ARE TALKING TO SECRETARY OF ADMINISTRATION JEB SPAULDING. IT'S A CRITICAL TIME IN MONTPELIER, WHAT'S LIKELY TO MOVE FORWARD AND WHAT WILL HAVE TO WAIT FOR ANOTHER YEAR. HE JOINS US FOR A PROGRESS REPORT AND HIS BOSS'S, THE GOVERNOR'S PRIORITIES. SECRETARY SPAULDING, THANKS FOR BEING HERE THIS MORNING.

>> NICE TO BE WITH YOU TODAY. NICE TO BE WITH BOTH OF YOU.

>> JOINING IN THE CONVERSATION THIS MORNING IS OUR STATEHOUSE REPORTER, KYLE MIDURA. A KEY DEADLINE FOR PROPOSED MEASURES PASSED ON FRIDAY. EARLIER IN THE WEEK, KYLE PUT TOGETHER THIS PIECE EXAMINING HOW THE DATE FOCUSES DEBATE.

>> HOUSE BILL 227.

>> LAWMAKERS RETURNED TO MONTPELIER TUESDAY FOLLOWING LAST WEEK'S LEGISLATIVE BREAK FOR TOWN MEETING DAY. ONE OF THE BUSIEST WEEKS OF THE TWO-YEAR SESSION LIES AHEAD.

>> THE CALENDAR SAYS THAT --

>> A PROPOSED BILL MUST MAKE IT TO THE OTHER CHAMBER BY FRIDAY IN ORDER TO PASS THIS YEAR, UNLESS IT'S SENT TO A MONEY COMMITTEE, IN WHICH CASE THE DEADLINE ARRIVES A WEEK LATER. EXCEPTIONS CAN BE MADE AND ALWAYS ARE FOR STATE AND ROAD SPENDING. WITH MORE THAN 1,000 BILLS PROPOSED BETWEEN THIS YEAR AND LAST, SOME WILL DIE WITHOUT EVER BEING SERIOUSLY CONSIDERED.

>> WE'VE GONE TO THE POINT NOW WHERE WE PRETTY MUCH KNOW WHAT THE REST OF THE SESSION WILL LOOK LIKE.

>> SENATE PRESIDENT PRO TEM JOHN CAMPBELL SAYS IN THE SENATE, HE WANTS TO MAKE SURE A BILL ADDRESSING OPIATE ABUSE REQUESTED BY THE GOVERNOR IS READY TO MOVE BY FRIDAY, BUT HE DOESN'T WANT LAWMAKERS TO PASS MEASURES SIMPLY TO KEEP THEM ALIVE.

>> I WANT THEM TO DO COMPLETE DUE DILIGENCE ON ALL THE BILLS. I DON'T WANT THEM TO THROW SOMETHING OUT AND JUST VOTE IT OUT JUST TO SAY THAT THEY VOTED ON IT.

>> ALL THOSE IN FAVOR SIGNIFY BY SAYING AYE.

>> THERE ARE A COUPLE THINGS I THINK WE NEED TO SEE MOVE THIS WEEK.

>> IN THE HOUSE, SPEAKER SMITH HAS HIS OWN SET OF PRIORITIES, WHICH INCLUDE VOTING OUT A JOBS BILL AND A MEASURE SETTING THE STATE PROPERTY TAX. BOTH CAMPBELL AND SMITH SAY NEXT WEEK MAY THE TOUGHER BOTTLENECK AS MONEY COMMITTEE MEMBERS ARE FLOODED WITH ALL THE BILLS REQUIRING THEIR STAMP OF APPROVAL.

>> WE'RE WORKING VERY CLOSELY WITH THE POLICY COMMITTEE CHAIRS AS WELL AS MONEY COMMITTEE CHAIRS TO MAKE SURE THAT THE FLOW WORKS.

>> SMITH SAYS THE MINIMUM WAGE BILL WILL MOVE FORWARD BUT WILL LIKELY NEED A DEADLINE EXTENSION IN ORDER TO PASS THIS YEAR. EFFORTS TO REFORM THE STRUCTURE OF EDUCATION GOVERNANCE AND A PROPOSAL TO ALLOW BURLINGTON TO INSTITUTE GUN REFORMS WILL ALSO REQUIRE EXEMPTIONS IF THEY'RE GOING TO BECOME LAW THIS YEAR.

>> SECRETARY, RIGHT OFF THE TOP, LET'S BEGIN WITH THE OPIATES BILL. THE GOVERNOR MADE IT A PRIORITY AT THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR AND WE ARE RECORDING THIS PIECE ON THURSDAY, THOUGH IT WILL AIR SUNDAY. HOWEVER, WE DO ALREADY KNOW THAT THAT BILL WILL INDEED MAKE IT TO THE HOUSE FROM THE SENATE. TALK TO US ABOUT THAT MEASURE AND WHAT IS OF SUCH CRITICAL IMPORTANCE?

>> WELL, I THINK WE ALL RECOGNIZE THE PROBLEM THAT VERMONT AND VIRTUALLY EVERY OTHER STATE IN THE COUNTRY IS HAVING WITH SUBSTANCE ABUSE, IN THIS CASE OPIATES. AND I THINK THE GOVERNOR'S GRATIFIED THAT THE LEGISLATURE HAS AGREED WITH HIM ON THE FACT THAT WE NEED TO TAKE ACTION. WE HAD MEASURES INCLUDED IN THE BUDGET ADJUSTMENT BILL WHICH IS WELL ALONG THROUGH THE PROCESS AND OUR REQUESTS IN THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE FOR THE FY 15 BUDGET SEEM TO BE FARING WELL AND THE POLICY PIECES ARE MOVING ALONG AS WELL, SO, YOU KNOW, I GUESS IT'S HARD TO BE, YOU KNOW, EXCITED ABOUT THIS PARTICULAR ISSUE BECAUSE IT'S A SAD ISSUE ALL AROUND, BUT THE FACT THAT THE LEGISLATURE HAS AGREED WITH US THAT WE MUST MAKE PROGRESS THIS YEAR IS GRATIFYING.

>> WHAT IN THIS BILL -- LET'S BREAK DOWN THIS BILL. THE GOVERNOR ISSUED A STATEMENT SAYING THAT HE'S APPRECIATIVE OF WHAT'S IN THIS BILL, PARTICULARLY CALLED OUT SENATOR DICK SEARS FOR HIS LEADERSHIP ON IT. WHAT ABOUT THIS BILL IS GOOD LEGISLATION?

>> WELL, THE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE IS THAT WE'RE GOING TO ACTUALLY NOT JUST LOOK AT THIS AS A PURE ENFORCEMENT ISSUE, BUT A TREATMENT ISSUE AND GET TO PEOPLE QUICKLY SO THAT, YOU KNOW, AT THE TIME WHEN THEY'RE FIRST, YOU KNOW, FOUND TO BE ABUSING THE DRUGS AND THEY START TO GET INTO THE LAW ENFORCEMENT SYSTEM, BE ABLE TO MOVE THEM WITH AN UNDERSTANDING THAT IF THEY PERFORM WELL AND GET TREATMENT AND STAY OUT OF TROUBLE, THAT THEY CAN AVOID SOME OF THE MORE PRISON AND THAT KIND OF SANCTIONS. SO I THINK MOST IMPORTANTLY, WE'RE TRYING TO SPEED UP THE PROCESS AND GET PEOPLE INTO TREATMENT AS AN ALTERNATIVE. JUST PUTTING THEM IN A CORRECTIONAL FACILITY WHERE OFTENTIMES WHEN THEY COME BACK OUT, THEY REALLY STILL HAVE A PROBLEM.

>> AND THERE'S A MONEY FACTOR HERE TOO.

>> WELL, THERE'S CLEARLY MONEY, YOU KNOW, BUT THE MONEY IS ALSO AIMED AT RAPID INTERVENTION AND TREATMENT ISSUES. I DO HAVE TO SAY, PART OF WHAT THE GOVERNOR HAS ALSO BEEN ADVOCATING FOR ARE MORE STRICT ENFORCEMENT ISSUES SO THAT IF PEOPLE ARE DEALERS, THAT THEY ARE LIKELY TO SEE, YOU KNOW, MORE STRICT KIND OF PENALTY FOR THEM. WE DON'T WANT VERMONT TO BE SEEN AS A PLACE THAT'S LAX ON THE CRIME END EITHER, AND SO WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT WE ARE ENFORCING OUR LAWS REALLY HARD AND WE'RE LOOKING AT WAYS THAT IF PEOPLE ACTUALLY ARE ASKING THE LEGISLATURE TO INCLUDE CHANGES SO THAT IF PEOPLE COMMIT CRIMES WITH FIREARMS, THAT THE PENALTIES ARE GREATER, SO THAT PEOPLE, YOU KNOW, ARE ABLE TO FEEL SAFE IN THEIR HOMES.

>> HOW IMPORTANT ARE THE NITTY-GRITTY DETAILS TO THE ADMINISTRATION IN THIS BILL VERSUS THE OVERALL AIM OF THE MEASURE, WHICH IS REDUCING RECIDIVISM, OFFENDERS REOFFENDING, AS WELL AS GETTING FOLKS TREATMENT AND PUNISHING THOSE BRINGING DRUGS INTO THE STATE MORE HARSHLY?

>> WELL, I THINK THE DETAILS ARE IMPORTANT, BUT THE GOVERNOR HAS ALSO BEEN CLEAR THAT, LOOK, WE'RE LAYING OUT SOME IDEAS HERE FOR YOU AND IF ANYBODY HAS IDEAS THAT ARE ALSO GOOD, WE'RE OPEN TO INCLUDING THOSE ALONG THE WAY AND IF THERE ARE IDEAS THAT PEOPLE HAVE THAT NEED TO BE EXPLORED AND WE DON'T KNOW WHETHER THEY'RE GOOD, THE EXPLORATION IS ALSO HELPFUL, SO THE DETAILS ARE IMPORTANT, BUT WE'RE NOT SET ON THE FACT THAT, HEY, IT HAS TO BE EXACTLY AS WE PROPOSED IT. WE HAVE SOME IDEAS HERE AND WE'RE GLAD THEY'RE MOVING ALONG, AND IF PEOPLE WANT TO EXPAND AND IMPROVE ON THEM, THAT'S ALL THE BETTER.

>> I'M CURIOUS IF THERE'S SOME CONCERN IN THE ADMINISTRATION AT ALL ABOUT THE STATE'S REPUTATION. YOU KNOW, A LOT OF NATIONAL HEADLINES HAVE READ ALONG THE LINES OF VERMONT, THE, YOU KNOW, HEROIN CAPITAL OF THE COUNTRY, THINGS ALONG THOSE LINES AFTER THE GOVERNOR'S STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS AND ALL OF THE WORK THAT'S HAPPENED SINCE THEN. IS THERE A CONCERN, YOU KNOW, FROM A TOURISM STANDPOINT OR JUST THE STATE'S REPUTATION IN GENERAL?

>> WELL, I THINK MOST IMPORTANTLY, I THINK VERMONT'S REPUTATION AS A GOOD TRAVEL AND RECREATION DESTINATION FOR A PLACE THAT MAKES GREAT FOOD PRODUCTS AND OTHER CRAFTS AND SO FORTH WILL STAND US WELL, AND THAT MOST PEOPLE RECOGNIZE THAT, YOU KNOW, YOU KNOW, ACTUALLY PENNSYLVANIA OR FLORIDA OR ILLINOIS OR NEW JERSEY OR MAINE OR RHODE ISLAND REALLY ARE JUST IN THE SAME BOAT WE ARE. SO I DON'T THINK PEOPLE REALLY FEEL THAT WAY. I DO THINK IT'S INTERESTING HOW THIS STORY HAS BECOME, YOU KNOW, KIND OF LIKE A NATIONAL STORY, AND I -- I DON'T KNOW, I JUST SPEAK FOR MYSELF, YOU KNOW, THE REASON THE GOVERNOR WANTED TO FOCUS ON THIS IN THE STATE OF THE STATE IS BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, HE WANTED TO MAKE SURE IN VERMONT, WE TOOK THIS AS A REAL SERIOUS ISSUE AND SOMETHING WE NEEDED TO ADDRESS. I DIDN'T KNOW THAT IT WOULD GET THIS KIND OF TRACTION AROUND THE WHOLE COUNTRY, BUT I THINK THE FACT THAT IT HAS GOTTEN THAT TRACTION IS BECAUSE PEOPLE ACTUALLY REALIZE THAT WE ARE JUST A MICROCOSM OF THE REST OF THE COUNTRY. SO I DON'T THINK IT WILL HURT US IN THE LONG RUN ON TRAVEL AND RECREATION. I THINK IT'S PART OF THE REASON WE ALSO LIKE TO MAKE SURE, HEY, IF YOU'RE A DEALER OUT THERE, YOU COME HERE, WE'RE GOING TO LOOK FOR YOU AND PUT YOU IN A BIG HURT, SO BE CAREFUL ABOUT WHAT YOU DO WHEN YOU COME HERE. YOU KNOW, AGAIN, I THINK THAT MOST PEOPLE RECOGNIZE THAT THEY'VE GOT THE SAME PROBLEM WE HAVE. I MEAN, YOU KNOW, THERE'S NO DOUBT IN MY MIND.

>> ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF A NATIONAL STORY AS WELL AS A VERMONT STORY IS THE MINIMUM WAGE. GOVERNOR SHUMLIN WAS RECENTLY IN CONNECTICUT WITH THE PRESIDENT STUMPING FOR A HIKE OF THE RATE TO $10.10 OVER THE NEXT THREE YEARS. HAS THAT BEEN A PRIORITY SINCE JANUARY? A LOT OF US IN THE MEDIA ONLY REALLY CAUGHT ON TO THIS PUSH IN THE LAST FEW WEEKS.

>> I THINK THE GOVERNOR HAD BEEN DOING SOME, TO BE HONEST WITH YOU, SOME QUIET WORK WITH HIS FELLOW GOVERNORS IN NEW ENGLAND AND THE PRESIDENT, BECAUSE IF WE COULD WORK OUT SOMETHING ON A REGIONAL BASIS WHERE THERE WAS MULTIPLE STATES GETTING TO THE SAME DESTINATION ABOUT THE SAME TIME, THAT WE COULD REDUCE THE KIND OF STING THAT PEOPLE MIGHT SAY, GEE, WE'RE NOT GOING TO BE COMPETITIVE WITH MASSACHUSETTS OR CONNECTICUT OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT. THE GOVERNOR HAS BEEN CLEAR RIGHT FROM THE BEGINNING THAT ECONOMIC SECURITY IS A CRITICAL ISSUE THAT HE WANTS TO LEAVE AS A LEGACY, AS SOMETHING THAT WE'VE REALLY DONE SOMETHING TO IMPROVE ECONOMIC SECURITY. THAT'S WHY HE TALKS ABOUT JOBS ALL THE TIME AND I THINK HE HAS BEEN SUPPORTIVE OF AN INCREASE IN THE MINIMUM WAGE. WHEN THE PRESIDENT LAID OUT $10.10 BY 2017, THAT SEEMED TO BE A GOOD GOAL. WE LEARNED THAT CONNECTICUT WAS GOING IN THAT DIRECTION AND IT SEEMED LIKE, HEY, IT MAKES SENSE FOR US TO TRY TO DO THIS AS A GROUP. SO IT WASN'T, YOU KNOW -- THERE'S BEEN SOME STATE WORK BEING DONE ALONG THE WAY AND AS YOU MENTIONED IN YOUR STORY THERE, KYLE, THIS IS ONE OF THE ISSUES THAT WE'LL NEED A CROSSOVER EXEMPTION, BUT WE DO EXPECT TO TAKE PLACE DURING THIS SESSION.

>> NEW HAMPSHIRE CURRENTLY GOES BY THE FEDERAL MINIMUM WAGE, $7.25 AN HOUR. I'D IMAGINE, IN ORDER FOR THE GOVERNOR TO BE FIRMLY BEHIND THIS MOVE, WE'D HAVE TO SEE SOME MOVEMENT THERE AND THE OTHER ELEMENT OF THIS QUESTION IS RIGHT NOW THE PROPOSALS IN THE STATEHOUSE ARE SET AT $12.50 AN HOUR AND $15 AN HOUR. DOES THE LEGISLATURE HAVE A GREATER APPETITE FOR RAISING THE WAGE THAN THE GOVERNORS?

>> LET ME TAKE YOUR FIRST ISSUE. WE DO EXPECT THIS TO TAKE PLACE IN THIS LEGISLATIVE SESSION. WE THINK THAT $10.10 IS A GOOD PLACE FOR US TO TARGET, AND WE ARE GOING TO WORK TO MAKE SURE THAT WE SUCCEED IRREGARDLESS OF WHAT HAPPENS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE OR REALLY ANY OTHER STATE. I MEAN, I'M CONFIDENT THAT THE OTHER STATES LIKE CONNECTICUT AND MASSACHUSETTS WILL END UP THERE, TOO, BUT, YOU KNOW, WE'RE NOT WAITING TO SORT OF SEE, WELL, IF NEW HAMPSHIRE DOESN'T DO IT, WE'RE NOT GOING TO DO IT. I WANT TO BE CLEAR ABOUT THAT. THE GOVERNOR SUPPORTS MOVING TO $10.10 BY 2017. HE BELIEVES THAT IF PEOPLE ARE WORKING A 40-HOUR WEEK, THAT THEY OUGHT TO BE ABLE TO, YOU KNOW, TREAT THEIR FAMILIES WITH DIGNITY AND RAISE THEIR FAMILIES WITH DIGNITY. SO, YOU KNOW, WE BELIEVE IT'S AN IMPORTANT STEP TO TAKE IF WE CAN -- AND LOOKS LIKE WE CAN -- DO ON IT A REGIONAL BASIS, SO MUCH THE BETTER.

>> A FORMER GOVERNOR IS ALSO GETTING ON BOARD WITH THIS, TALKING ABOUT FORMER GOVERNOR MADELEINE KUENEN, BUT TIME IS RUNNING OUT FOR SUPPORTERS OF PAID SICK TIME, WHICH IS SORT OF PART OF THIS WHOLE ARGUMENT AND SHE WAS FLANKED BY LOCAL BUSINESS WOMEN AND LAWMAKERS URGING THE GOVERNOR AND LEGISLATIVE LEADERS TO APPROVE MOST A MINIMUM WAGE BOOST AND SICK LEAVE TO HELP WORKING FAMILIES. THE GROUP POINTS TO POLLS THAT SHOW A MAJORITY OF VERMONTERS SUPPORT THE IDEA AND WITH WOMEN MAKING UP TWO-THIRDS OF MINIMUM WAGE WORKERS, SHE SAYS IT BOILS DOWN TO A QUESTION OF GENDER EQUALITY.

>> THE WORKPLACE IS STILL STRUCTURED AS IF DADDY WORKS AND MOMMY STAYS HOME. WELL, THE REALITY IS THERE'S NOBODY HOME IN MOST FAMILIES NOW TO CARE FOR THE ELDERLY, TO CARE FOR THE CHILD, AND THAT'S WHY WE NEED THAT KIND OF FLEXIBILITY OF PAID SICK DAYS. WE STILL HAVE TIME IN THIS LEGISLATIVE SESSION TO TURN THIS IN A POSITIVE DIRECTION.

>> BUT GOVERNOR SHUMLIN HAS COME OUT AND SAID THAT THIS NEEDS MORE REVIEW, THAT HE'S NOT READY TO THROW HIS SUPPORT BEHIND THE SICK PAID TIME. WHY?

>> WELL, AS SAID RIGHT ALONG, HE SUPPORTS THE CONTENT OR THE CONCEPT OF PAID SICK TIME, BUT THE DETAILS MAKE A DIFFERENCE AND THEY HAVEN'T BEEN THOROUGHLY VETTED THROUGH. I DO WANT TO DISTINGUISH, SOME PEOPLE TIE THEM TOGETHER. I'M NOT DOING THAT, BUT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT MINIMUM WAGE JUST BEFORE THE CLIP ON THE FORMER GOVERNOR AND THE MINIMUM WAGE, WE ARE GOING TO DO EVERYTHING WE CAN TO GET THAT BILL THROUGH THE LEGISLATURE AND BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE THE SUPPORT TO DO SO. KYLE HAD MENTIONED, YOU KNOW, $12.50 OR HIGHER AND ONE THING I WANTED TO MENTION IS THAT -- AND THIS WILL TIE IN WITH THE PAID SICK TIME AS WELL. THE STATE OF VERMONT IS AN EMPLOYER ITSELF AND ONE OF THE PIECES THAT I'M MOST PROUD OF OUR RECENT CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS AND COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT WITH THE VERMONT STATE EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION IS THAT STARTING NEXT JULY 1, NO FULL-TIME WORKERS FOR THE STATE OF VERMONT WILL BE PAID LESS THAN $12.50, WHICH IS WHAT SOME PEOPLE SORT OF TAG ALONG AS A MINIMUM WAGE. AS AN EMPLOYER, WE WANT TO DO THE RIGHT THING. WITH PAID SICK TIME, OUR PART-TIME -- I MEAN, OUR FULL-TIME EMPLOYEES DEFINITELY GET PAID SICK TIME AND SO DO OUR PART-TIME EMPLOYEES. WE'VE BEEN TALKING WITH THE VERMONT STATE EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION ABOUT OFFERING PAID SICK TIME FOR OUR LONGER TERM TEMPORARY EMPLOYEES AS WELL.

>> THAT HAS BEEN SOME CONTROVERSY ABOUT THAT.

>> SO AS AN EMPLOYER -- WELL, THERE'S SOME CONTROVERSY, BUT I BELIEVE WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A MIDDLE GROUND ON THAT ONE, YEAH.

>> OKAY, GOOD.

>> AND IF IT'S NOT DONE, YOU KNOW, QUITE YET, I THINK IT WILL BE SHORTLY. BUT I'M DISTINGUISHING BETWEEN US AS AN EMPLOYER AND THE GOVERNOR WANTS TO HAVE OUR STATE EMPLOYEES PAID APPROPRIATELY AND HAVE PAID SICK TIME, AND AS GOVERNOR, HE RECOGNIZES THAT THAT MAKES GOOD SENSE FOR AN EMPLOYER TO DO, BUT RECOGNIZES THAT ALL EMPLOYERS ARE NOT IN THE SAME SITUATION AND WE NEED TO MAKE SURE HOW THIS IS GOING TO AFFECT OUR SMALL RETAILERS AND ENSURE THAT WE'RE NOT GOING TO PUT OURSELVES INTO A SITUATION WHERE WE'RE GOING TO MAKE IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR SOME OF OUR SMALLER BUSINESSES TO BE IN BUSINESS.

>> A BIG ISSUE HAS BEEN NOT ONLY THE BUDGET BUT SCHOOL BUDGETS THIS YEAR. WE HAD 36 BUDGETS, I BELIEVE, POTENTIALLY 35 GO DOWN TOWN MEETING DAY. SOME HAVE CALLED IT A TAX REVOLT AND NOT REALLY A REVOLT AGAINST THEIR SCHOOL BOARDS. WHAT DOES THE ADMINISTRATION SEE AS A VIABLE ROUTE FORWARD FOR SOME FORM OF REFORM, WHATEVER SHAPE THAT MIGHT BE IN?

>> I THINK THERE'S SOME ENCOURAGING SIGNS. THE HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE IS VOTING OUT A BILL, IF THEY HAVEN'T ALREADY DONE SO, THEY MIGHT HAVE GOTTEN IT OUT ON FRIDAY AFTERNOON, BUT IF NOT, IT WILL COME OUT SHORTLY, THAT MAKES SOME REFINEMENTS ON THE FUNDING FORMULA. THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE IS LOOKING AT THE DELIVERY SYSTEM, SOME PEOPLE CALL IT GOVERNANCE, BUT, YOU KNOW, THERE'S NO QUESTION THAT WE HAVE QUITE A BIT OF ADMINISTRATION AND GOVERNANCE COMPARED TO THE NUMBER OF STUDENTS WE HAVE IN VERMONT, AND IF WE CAN STREAMLINE THAT OVER TIME, WE CAN SAVE MONEY THERE. SO, YOU KNOW, WE'RE ENCOURAGED THAT THERE'S SOME THINGS THAT ARE TAKING PLACE. IT'S A COMPLICATED SITUATION AND, YOU KNOW, I THINK SOME PEOPLE HAVE RECENTLY STARTED TO SAY THAT IF WE JUST PUT MORE MONEY INTO THE EDUCATION SYSTEM IN MONTPELIER, THAT EVERYTHING WOULD, YOU KNOW, BE OKAY AND PROPERTY TAXES WOULD GO DOWN. AND I THINK THAT MISSES THE POINT, THAT IT'S NOT REALLY A REVENUE PROBLEM, IT'S A SPENDING PROBLEM. VERMONT SPENDS MORE THAN JUST ABOUT ANYBODY IN THE COUNTRY, AND WE REALLY, YOU KNOW, HAVE TO RECOGNIZE IF WE JUST PUT MORE MONEY IN FROM THE GENERAL FUND, THAT MASKS THE SITUATION AND ALLOWS THE HIGH SPENDING TO GO ON WITHOUT ACTUALLY ADDRESSING, YOU KNOW, WHAT'S GOING ON.

>> BUT LESS MONEY IS COMING IN FROM THE GENERAL FUND THAN IT HAS IN THE PAST.

>> WELL, THAT'S NOT ACCURATE, KYLE.

>> PERCENTAGE WISE?

>> WELL, ON A PERCENTAGE, BUT THAT'S DIFFERENT. PEOPLE SHOULD BE CLEAR, THE GOVERNOR AND THE LEGISLATURE HAVE FULLY FUNDED THE STATUTORY TRANSFER TO THE EDUCATION FUND FOR SEVERAL YEARS IN A ROW. AS A MATTER OF FACT, TO TRY TO HELP OUT, YOU KNOW, THERE'S DIFFERENT SOURCES OF MONEY THAT GO TO THE EDUCATION FUND. ONE OF THEM IS THE GENERAL FUND TRANSFER, AND AS I JUST SAID, WE'VE FULLY FUNDED THE STATUTE STORY REQUIREMENT THERE SEVERAL YEARS NOW. THERE ARE SOME TAXES THAT DIRECTLY GO THERE, SOME OF THE PEOPLE HERE, YOU KNOW, THE LOTTERY, 100% OF THE LOTTERY PROCEEDS GO TO THE EDUCATION FUND, BUT IT USED TO BE 33% OF THE SALES TAX WENT TO THE EDUCATION FUND AUTOMATICALLY. THAT'S NOT PART OF THE GENERAL FUND TRANSFER. STARTING IN FY 14, WHICH IS THIS YEAR, THAT WAS UPPED TO 35%. A PORTION OF THE UNANTICIPATED SURPLUS AT THE END OF THIS LAST FISCAL YEAR WENT RIGHT INTO THE EDUCATION FUND, SO, YOU KNOW, THE STATE HAS BEEN PUTTING ADDITIONAL RESOURCES INTO THE EDUCATION FUND. IT'S JUST THAT EXPENDITURES AT THE LOCAL LEVEL ARE GOING UP FASTER THAN THE AMOUNT OF NEW MONEY THAT'S GOING IN THERE, WHICH ENDS UP BEING PUT ON THE BACKS OF PROPERTY TAXPAYERS. SO AGAIN, IT GETS TO A SITUATION WHERE, ONE, WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT WE LOOK AT THE FORMULA AND WE'RE PLEASED THAT THE HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE IS DOING THAT AND THEY'RE LOOKING AT THINGS LIKE CHANGING THE EXCESS SPENDING THRESHOLD. THEY'RE REVISITING THE ISSUE OF WHETHER THE SMALL SCHOOLS SUBSIDY SHOULD BE THERE IN OTHER THAN GEOGRAPHIC NECESSITY. YOU KNOW, THEY'RE LOOKING AT MAKING SURE THAT THE INCOME SENSITIVITY VERSUS NON-INCOME SENSITIVITY TAXPAYERS ARE TREATED IN A SORT OF PROPORTIONAL FASHION, AND ALL THOSE THINGS. WE'RE WILLING TO ENGAGE IN THAT DIALOGUE AND HOPE THEY PASS A BILL IN THE HOUSE AND THAT THE DISCUSSION CONTINUES IN THE SENATE. AND ON THE HOUSE EDUCATION GOVERNANCE PLAN WHERE, YOU KNOW, THEY'RE REALLY NOT ANTICIPATING THAT THAT WILL SAVE MONEY IN YEAR ONE BECAUSE IT'S GOING TO TAKE A WHILE TO HAVE THAT ACTUALLY TAKE EFFECT, BUT IF WE CAN CUT DOWN ON THE NUMBER OF SUPERINTENDENTS AND HAVE LESS DUPLICATION IN COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AND ORDERING SUPPLIES AND REALLY MAKE SURE THAT THE MONEY WE ARE SPENDING IS BEING USED ON THE MOST IMPORTANT THING, WHICH IS EDUCATING KIDS, THAT WE CAN ACTUALLY BEND THE COST CURVE DOWN IN THE LONG RUN. SO BOTH ON THE FORMULA AND THE DELIVERY SYSTEM, WE'RE ENCOURAGED AND, YOU KNOW, RECOGNIZE THAT PROPERTY TAXES ARE TOO HIGH FOR PEOPLE. THE GOVERNOR -- THERE'S NO MYSTERY THERE, HE'S BEEN PRETTY CLEAR ABOUT IT, AND, YOU KNOW, WE'RE PART OF THE CONVERSATION. WE'VE TALKED TO LEGISLATORS, WE'VE TALKED TO SCHOOL BOARDS, YOU KNOW, SUPERINTENDENTS, AND PEOPLE FEEL THAT THE SYSTEM -- THE PROPOSALS NEED TO SORT OF WORK THEIR WAY AND EVOLVE WITHOUT, LIKE, YOU KNOW, A GOVERNOR TRYING TO RAM SOMETHING THROUGH. SO WE'RE TRYING TO BE PARTICIPATORY BUT NOT ACTUALLY BE THE ONES THAT ARE PUSHING A PARTICULAR PROPOSAL.

>> SECRETARY, WE NEED TO TAKE A BRIEF BREAK.

>>> WELCOME BACK, EVERYBODY. WE'RE TALKING WITH JEB SPAULDING THIS MORNING. SECRETARY, NO DOUBT ABOUT IT, A BIG STORM THIS PAST WEEK. A LOT OF US, I'M SURE YOU AS WELL, STILL DIGGING OUT. HOW DID THE STATE HANDLE THAT STORM?

>> I THINK OUR TEAM HAS DONE A GREAT JOB. THE VTRANS FOLKS WERE PREPARED, THE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT FOLKS WERE PREPARED. THEY ACTIVATED THE STATE EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTER AND THERE WERE VERY FEW CALLS FOR ASSISTANCE. SO WE REALLY DIDN'T -- WE WERE PROBABLY MORE PREPARED THAN WE NEEDED TO BE, BUT THEN ON THE OTHER SIDE, YOU CAN NEVER BE TOO PREPARED. I THINK THE STATE WAS PREPARED, THE UTILITIES WERE TOTALLY READY TO GO. AGAIN, WE HAD SOME OUTAGES, BUT NOT TOO MANY. SO FROM A PUBLIC SAFETY PERSPECTIVE, WE DID VERY WELL. FROM AN ECONOMIC PERSPECTIVE, THIS IS A GODSEND FOR US AND THE GOVERNOR WAS -- HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE ON THE NEW ENGLAND CABLE CHANNEL THIS MORNING AND I THINK THEY STARTED OFF IN THE INTERVIEW SAYING, OH MY GOODNESS, MUST BE TERRIBLE UP THERE. AND HE SAID, WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? WE HAVE THE BEST TRANSPORTATION PEOPLE OUT THERE, OUR ROADS ARE IN GREAT SHAPE. AS A MATTER OF FACT, I SAW AN EMAIL FROM SOMEBODY THAT HAD TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL IN BOSTON AND CAME BACK YESTERDAY, AND IN THIS CASE, SAID WHEN HE GOT BACK, HE WAS GOING UP THE EASTERN PART OF THE STATE AND ONCE HE GOT UP TOWARDS BRADFORD AND THE REST OF THE WAY, THE ROADS WERE MUCH BETTER THAN THEY WERE IN OTHER STATES. IT'S NOT ALWAYS THE CASE BECAUSE THE WEATHER IS SOMETIMES LOCALIZED AND YOU CAN'T KEEP UP WITH THE PARTICULAR GUSTS OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT, BUT THE GOVERNOR MADE THE POINT THAT, HEY, THE SKIING IS GREAT. IT'S MARCH, THE SUN IS GOING TO COME OUT, WE HOPE YOU COME UP AND VISIT US. I WOULD MAKE MENTION OF THE FACT THAT FROM A REVENUE PERSPECTIVE, WE'VE HAD A STRONG TRAVEL AND TOURISM WINTER. IN THIS FISCAL YEAR, THE ROOMS AND MEALS TAX IS RUNNING ABOUT 6% OVER WHAT IT WAS LAST YEAR, WHICH IS GREAT, AND YOU HEAR REPORTS ON THE LOCAL LEVEL, TOO, THAT PEOPLE HAVE HAD A STRONG SEASON AND IT'S NOT JUST DOWNHILL SKIING. ANYBODY THAT GOES UP TO YOUR NECK OF THE WOODS YOU WERE RAISED IN AND GOES UP TO MAYBE ISLAND POND ON A WINTER DAY CAN SEE THE IMPACT OF SNOW MACHINES UP THERE, SO WINTER SPORTS ARE GOING TO BENEFIT FROM THIS. I THINK THE STATE DID WELL. WE DID NOT CLOSE EARLY YESTERDAY AND WE WERE OPEN FOR BUSINESS TODAY. CERTAINLY THERE ARE SOME EMPLOYEES THAT SAY, WELL, YOU KNOW, WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN CLOSED FOR THE DAY, BUT, YOU KNOW, OUR MANTRA IS THAT WE ARE PUBLIC SERVANTS. WE ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO LEAVE A LITTLE EARLIER. WE SOMETIMES DO HAVE TO CLOSE. WE DON'T SIT AROUND IN THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE SAYING, SHOULD WE CLOSE STATE GOVERNMENT OR, YOU KNOW, CLOSE EARLY OR WHAT HAVE YOU OR DELAY OPENING. WE HAVE EARLY, EARLY -- USUALLY THE DAY BEFORE AND THEN AT 4:00 IN THE MORNING, PHONE CALLS WITH VTRANS, THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AND FIND OUT WHAT ALL OF THOSE PEOPLE ADVISE. AND THIS MORNING, THE ADVICE WAS THERE'S NO REASON FOR A DELAYED OPENING PRIMARILY BECAUSE THE WEATHER FORECAST WASN'T SUPPOSED TO CHANGE BETWEEN, LIKE, 7:30 IN THE MORNING AND 10:00. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO -- YOU MAY REMEMBER, IT WAS SUPPOSED TO DIE DOWN IN THE AFTERNOON ON FRIDAY. SO THERE WAS NO NEED FOR A DELAYED OPENING. BUT, YOU KNOW, WE WERE OPEN FOR BUSINESS, AND REALLY, I THINK MY EXPERIENCE IS THAT IF YOU DID GET YOUR SNOW TIRES AND YOU DRIVE THE SPEED LIMIT OR MAYBE A LITTLE LESS THAN THE SPEED LIMIT, YOU WILL GET TO YOUR DESTINATION IN ONE PIECE.

>> ALL THE ICE STORMS THIS WINTER REALLY ATE INTO THE TRANSPORTATION BUDGET. ARE WE IN BETTER SHAPE THAN WE WERE IN LATE JANUARY? HOW IS THAT HOLDING UP?

>> WELL, WE'RE PROBABLY GOING TO HAVE TO, YOU KNOW, MAKE SOME CHANGES IN THE '15 BUDGET TO REFLECT THE FACT THAT WE WILL BE SPENDING MORE MONEY IN '14 THAN WE WOULD ANTICIPATE. ON THE OTHER HAND, MOTHER NATURE IS HARD TO PREDICT. YOU KNOW, IF STARTING THIS WEEK THE WEATHER STARTS TO CHANGE ON US, THAT COULD HELP. I WAS LISTENING TO THE WEATHER FORECAST AND IT SOUNDS LIKE MAYBE IT'S GOING TO STAY COOL FOR A WHILE IN MARCH, SO, YOU KNOW, WE'RE USED TO HAVING TO BOB AND WEAVE A LITTLE BIT AND THERE'S NO QUESTION THAT THE EXPENDITURES FOR BOTH MATERIALS AND PEOPLE TIME HAS BEEN MORE THAN ANTICIPATED, BUT NOT AT A LEVEL THAT WE CAN'T JUST, YOU KNOW, DELAY SOME PROJECTS AND MOVE SOME MONEY AROUND AND, YOU KNOW, THE GOOD NEWS IS AT LEAST FOR THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY, WHICH IS THE MOST RECENT MONTH WE HAVE, THE GAS TAX PERFORMED VERY WELL, SO, YOU KNOW, IF THE REVENUES PERFORM BETTER THAN EXPECTED, THAT CAN ALSO ALLOW US TO MAKE UP FOR LOST GROUND ON THE EXPENDITURE SIDE OR OVERSPENDING ON THE EXPENDITURE SIDE DUE TO WEATHER.

>> WE HAVE ABOUT TWO MINUTES LEFT. WHAT IS THE ADMINISTRATION LOOKING FOR AS THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION COMES TO A CLOSE? WHAT ARE YOU HOPING COMES OUT OF MONTPELIER?

>> WELL, THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS THAT THE GOVERNOR WANTS TO, YOU KNOW, KEEP THE FOCUS ON JOBS AND SO, YOU KNOW, WE'RE ENCOURAGED THAT THERE'S MORE THAN ONE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BILL THAT ARE MOVING THROUGH EITHER THE HOUSE OR THE SENATE, JOB TRAINING BILLS, AND WE WANT THOSE TO PASS FOR SURE. YOU KNOW, HE HAD HIS PRIORITY RELATED TO THE OPIATE PROBLEM. THAT LOOKS LIKE IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN. YOU KNOW, WE ARE REALLY ANXIOUS TO MAKE SURE THAT OUR BUDGET PASSES IN ROUGHLY THE SAME CONDITION THAT WE INTRODUCED IT IN. THERE'S SOME, YOU KNOW, EXPECTATIONS THAT THE LEGISLATURE MAY HAVE SOME DIFFERENCES OF OPINION AND THAT'S OKAY. AND WE SOMETIMES HEAR NOW, WELL, YOU KNOW, WHERE THE BUDGET IS NOW, THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE IS TRYING TO GET IT OUT, THAT THEY MIGHT BE MAKING SOME CHANGES TO OUR BUDGET OR THEY'RE ACTUALLY LOOKING FOR WAYS TO CUT THE SPENDING LEVEL THAT WE SUBMITTED. AND ON THE ONE HAND, WE SAY, YEAH, THAT'S GREAT, WE DON'T HAVE ANY PROBLEM AT ALL, BUT, YOU KNOW, WE COULDN'T FIND ANY ADDITIONAL SAVINGS AND WE THINK YOU'RE PROBABLY GOING TO HAVE A HARD TIME FINDING THEM YOURSELF. AND THEY'RE GOING THROUGH THE SAME PROCESS THAT WE DID, YOU KNOW, WHICH WAS, JEEZ, WHAT CAN WE CUT BACK ON AND THEN, WELL, NO, WE CAN'T QUITE DO THAT, AND SO SOME OF THE THINGS THEY'RE LOOKING AT TO REDUCE THE BUDGET BY DOING, I THINK THEY MAY CHANGE THEIR MIND WHEN IT COMES TIME TO VOTE.

>> SECRETARY SPAULDING, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR JOINING US THIS MORNING.

>> THE TIME WENT BY VERY QUICKLY.

>> ALWAYS DOES, DOESN'T IT? THANKS FOR WATCHING AT HOME. WE'LL SEE YOU SOON. CAPTIONING PROVIDED BY.CAPTION ASSOCIATES, LLCwww.captionassociates.com

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