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YCQM: March 23, 2014 - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

YCQM: March 23, 2014

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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. WE'RE TALKING EDUCATION FUNDING, HEALTHCARE REFORM AND OTHER ISSUES THAT LAURMENT ARE GRAPPLING WITH IN MONTPELIER.

>> YOU ARE GUESTS ARE REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVES PATTI KOMLINE AND HEIDI SCHEUERMANN. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.

>> THANKS FOR HAVING US.

>> LET'S BEGIN WITH EDUCATION FUNDING AND BOTH OF YOU ARE CALLING FOR THE REPEAL OF ACT 60, ACT 68. WHY? WHAT DO YOU THINK IS WRONG WITH THE CURRENT SYSTEM?

>> WELL, PATTI KOMLINE WAS THE ONE WHO REALLY WANTED TO DO THIS FROM THE BEGINNING OF THIS YEAR WITH REGARD TO THE REPEAL, AND I'M GOING TO LET HER EXPLAIN SORT OF HER INITIATIVE BEHIND THIS. I THINK IN GENERAL, THE SYSTEM, WHAT IT HAS DONE IS EQUALIZED FUNDING AND THAT'S GREAT. WE SHOULD BE PROUD OF THAT, BUT WHAT IT HAS NOT DONE IS EQUALIZED THE PAYMENT OF IT. IT HAS DISCONNECTED VOTERS FROM THE MONEY SPENT, THE BUDGETS VOTED UPON AND THE TAXES THEY PAY AND JUST MANY PEOPLE REALLY FRUSTRATED. NOBODY UNDERSTANDS IT. IT'S VERY CONVOLUTED AND COMPLICATED. I DON'T THINK TEN PEOPLE IN THE STATEHOUSE CAN UNDERSTAND IT MUCH LESS IN THE STATE OF VERMONT. SO THE REPEAL ITSELF EFFORT, I'M GOING TO LET PATTI TAKE.

>> WE DID THIS LAST YEAR IN WAYS AND MEANS AND WE SAW THE TAX RATES GOING UP BY A NICKEL AND THERE'S ACTUALLY A LOT MORE TO THE TAXPAYERS. WE KNEW IT WAS GOING TO BE WORSE THIS YEAR AND INDEED IT WAS. I KNEW GOING TO TOWN MEETING, PEOPLE WERE REALLY ANGRY AND FRUSTRATED AND WE DIDN'T SEE ANYTHING REALLY HAPPENING AT THE LEVEL IN THE LEGISLATURE, AND THIS IS SOMETHING WE COULD START A GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT ON AND LET THE PEOPLE IN THE STATE DICTATE TO US WHAT THEY WANT DONE. SO WE STARTED THIS PETITION AND WITHIN AN HOUR, WE HAD 100 PEOPLE ON IT AND IT WAS BUILDING, AND PUT THAT TO TOWN MEETINGS AND LET PEOPLE KNOW THAT THIS IS SOMETHING YOU CAN DO. AND THEY NEEDED TO BE EMPOWERED AND WE THOUGHT THIS WAS A WAY THAT THEY CAN SEND A MESSAGE TO THE LEGISLATURE.

>> SO YOU STARTED THIS PETITION TO EXPLAIN TO FOLKS AT HOME, THERE WASN'T A REAL -- NOT A TON OF SUPPORT, OBVIOUSLY, IN THE LEGISLATURE. IT'S CONTROLLED BY DEMOCRATS, BOTH THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE. WAS THAT THE IMPETUS BEHIND THIS, TO REALLY GET IT OUT TO THE PUBLIC, INSTEAD, TO SAY HEY, WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE REPEAL OF ACT 60, ACT 68?

>> RIGHT, WE SAID IT AND ALSO WHAT WE'RE SAYING IS REPEAL IT IN TWO YEARS. THAT GIVES US TIME TO COME UP WITH A NEW SYSTEM. IT WAS A RESPONSIBLE PROPOSAL AND THERE ARE OTHER IDEAS OUT THERE. THIS IS A WAY TO REALLY PUT PRESSURE ON LEGISLATORS. LAST YEAR, HEIDI OFFERED THIS AMENDMENT AND PEOPLE REALLY DID NOT WANT TO VOTE ON IT. WE THOUGHT THIS YEAR, THERE WOULD GIVE IT A LITTLE MORE PRESSURE ON PEOPLE.

>> I THINK JUST TO FOLLOW UP, LAST YEAR WE DID START THIS AND IN FEBRUARY, A BILL CAME TO THE FLOOR. IT WAS CLEAR, PROPERTY TAXES WERE GOING UP BY FIVE CENTS ON RESIDENTIAL RATE, SIX CENTS ON NONE RESIDENTIAL RATE AND IT WAS VERY CLEAR THAT WE WERE GOING TO SEE SIMILAR INCREASES THIS YEAR AND WE BELIEVED AT THE TIME THAT VERMONTERS REALLY COULDN'T HANDLE THAT ONE-TWO PUNCH. SO I DID PUT IMPORTANT AN AMENDMENT LAST YEAR -- FORWARD AN AMENDMENT LAST YEAR THAT WOULD HAVE REPEALED IT IN TWO YEARS WITH A NEW SYSTEM IN PLACE FOR THE 2015-2016 ACADEMIC YEAR. THAT, UNFORTUNATELY, THE MAJORITY WAS NOT WILLING, AS SHE SAID, TO VOTE ON IT. I THINK WE WOULD HAVE HAD SIGNIFICANT SUPPORT FOR IT, BUT THE MAJORITY WAS NOT WILLING TO VOTE ON IT, SO THEY REPLACED IT WITH A VERY WATERED-DOWN STUDY THAT WAYS AND MEANS WAS GOING TO DO AND THEY WERE ACTUALLY GOING TO BE REPORTING TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY BY MARCH 15th OF THIS YEAR.

>> WHICH NEVER HAPPENED.

>> SO FAR, I HAVE NOT SEEN A REPORT. SO THAT WAS UNFORTUNATE. WE'RE GOING TO SAY THAT WE'RE GOING TO KICK THE CAN DOWN THE ROAD AGAIN AND KICK THE CAN DOWN THE ROAD AGAIN AND I THINK THAT'S WHAT PATTI THOUGHT THIS YEAR WHEN SHE CAME TO ME WITH THE PETITION.

>> WE'VE SEEN IN COMMITTEES, SOMEBODY POINTED OUT IN A COMMENT ON A BLOG POST, BY CHANGING OUT HOW WE PAY FOR THE TAXES THAT WE HAVE NOW, YOU'RE PULLING THE KNIFE OUT OF SOMEONE'S BACK AND PUTTING IT IN THE PLUMBER'S BACK. WE'RE RAISING HOW MUCH PEOPLE HAVE TO PAY, BUT WE'RE DOING NOTHING ABOUT CONTROLLING THE COST, SO AS I SAID, THERE ARE SOME OTHER PROPOSALS OUT THERE THAT WE THINK WILL CONNECT PEOPLE, CONNECT VOTERS TO THEIR BUDGETS. THE GOVERNOR BLAMES THE TOWNS. THE TOWNS BLAME THE STATE AND IN THE MEANTIME, THE BUDGETS KEEP GOING UP AND PEOPLE SORE CONFUSED BY IT -- ARE SO CONFUSED BY IT. THE PER-PUPIL SPENDING WENT DOWN, THE BUDGETS WENT DOWN, AND THE TAX RATES WENT UP. AND PEOPLE CAME TO US A WEEK LATER IN OUR COMMITTEE AND TESTIFIED AND SAID WE HAVE NO IDEA HOW THAT HAPPENED. THE OFFICIALS CAN'T UNDERSTAND HOW THIS IS HAPPENING. IT IS BROKEN, AND THESE PEOPLE REALLY NEED US TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. NEXT YEAR, WE'RE LOOKING AT -- I TALKED TO OUR JOINT FISCAL PEOPLE AND THEY SAID IT'S PROJECTED TO BE ABOUT ANOTHER FIVE CENTS NEXT YEAR AND THE SAME FOR THE FOLLOWING YEAR. AND THERE'S NOTHING REAL GETTING DONE. WE FEEL LIKE IF YOU SET A DEADLINE, PEOPLE HAVE TO WORK TOWARDS THAT DEADLINE. I'VE USED THE ANALOGY THAT I USED TO HAVE A REALLY MESSY BASEMENT WHEN I HAD THREE KIDS LIVING AT HOME AND I'D GO DOWNSTAIRS ON SATURDAY MORNING AND SAY I'M GOING TO TACKLE THIS AND GET TOO OVERWHELMED WITH THE MESS AND SO UPSTAIRS, BUT WHEN WE SOLE THE HOUSE, THERE WAS A DEADLINE AND IT GOSST CLEANED UP. WE HAVE TO SET THIS DEADLINE IN TWO YEARS AND WORK ON IT. IF WE GET THERE AND WE'RE NOT QUITE THERE, WE CAN CHANGE THAT LEGALLY. WE CAN ACTUALLY CHANGE THE DEADLINE AND CONTINUE WORKING TOWARDS SOMETHING THAT THE PUBLIC ABSOLUTELY IS ASKING US FOR.

>> SOME IN LEADERSHIP HAVE CALLED THIS ESSENTIALLY A POLITICAL STUNT. DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU NEED TO HAVE AT LEAST A MENU OF OPTIONS MOVING FORWARD AS FAR AS WHAT COULD REPLACE ACT 60/68?

>> WE HAVE THREE OPTIONS TWO, IN BILL FORM. HEIDI HAS A BILL.

>> I'VE HAD A PROPOSAL OUT THERE THAT SAYS A XRENS EDUCATION PROPOSAL BOTH IN TERMS OF THE DELIVERY AND STRUCTURE OF EDUCATION AND FUNDING OF EDUCATION, RECONNECTING VOTERS. THERE ARE OTHER PROPOSALS OUT THERE THAT WE SHOULD BE CONSIDERING AND LOOKING AT SERIOUSLY. WE SHOULD BE PUTTING OUR SWORDS DOWN AND ACTUALLY LOOKING AT UNDERSTANDING THAT THE SYSTEM RIGHT NOW IS BROKEN AND WE SHOULD ALL ADMIT THAT. I DON'T THINK THERE'S A VERMONTER OUT THERE WHO WOULD SAY IT'S NOT BROKEN. AT LEAST THE VERMONTERS I'VE BEEN HEARING FROM. IT IS BROKEN AND WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING. THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT AFTER YEARS OF DISMISSING CONCERNS OF PATTI AND MYSELF AND SO MANY OTHERS, THE GOVERNOR CAME OUT THIS YEAR SAYING THAT IT ACTUALLY DOES NEED REFORM. THE LEGISLATIVE LEADERSHIP HAS SAID IN SOME WAYS THAT IT NEEDS REFORM. SO THAT'S THE GOOD NEWS. THE PROBLEM IS, I THINK IT'S -- IT'S AN ELECTION YEAR, SO WE CAN TALK ABOUT IT, BUT UNLESS SOMETHING GETS DONE -- I'M AFRAID WHILE THEY -- WHILE THE ARGUMENT IS THAT WE'RE BEING POLITICAL, I'M AFRAID THAT IS WHAT'S HAPPENING BY TWEAKING IT A LITTLE BIT, MAYBE DOING THIS, WHO'S PAYING FOR THE PROPERTY TAX INCREASES FOU, CENTS, AICT CENTS, THAT'S A WAY FOR THE MAJORITY TO GO OUT AND SAY WE'VE DONE SOMETHING ABOUT PROPERTY TAXES THIS YEAR AND THAT'S NOT THE CASE. WE SHOULD BE GIVING VERMONTERS THE INDICATION THAT THERE IS LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL AND THAT LIGHT IS NOT A TRAIN COMING AT THEM.

>> SOME FOLKS HAVE SO-CALLED FOR SCHOOL CONSOLIDATION AS LITTLE FIX HERE. LET'S HEAR MORE FROM ALI FREEMAN.

>> IT WAS A NRIT CROWD AT THE STATE HOUSE TUESDAY AS NEARLY 40 PEOPLE SOUNDED OFF ON SCHOOL DISTRICT CONSOLIDATION.

>> THIS REALLY IS CUTTING DOWN ON PUPIL ATTENDANCE, ALSO CUTTING DOWN, I THINK, ON SOME BOARDS.

>> VERMONT CURRENTLY HAS 273 SCHOOL DISTRICTS, AND 60 SUPERVISORY UNIONS. A BILL IN THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE IS PROPOSING TO CUT DOWN ON THOSE NUMBERS BY COMBINING DISTRICTS.

>> K-12 SCHOOL DISTRICTS THROUGHOUT THE STATE OF VERMONT, ONE BOARD, ONE SUPERINTENDENT, AND SO THAT IS GOING TO REALLY EXPEDITE GOVERNANCE.

>> AN IDEA THAT MANY SUPPORTED.

>> I SUPPORT THE PROPOSED GOVERNANCE CHANGES BECAUSE I BELIEVE THEY WILL AFFORD THE VERY BEST, MOST EQUAL EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY UPON ALL OUR STUDENTS.

>> WHILE OTHERS DISAGREED.

>> ONE SIZE DOESN'T FIT ALL. EVERY SCHOOL IS UNIQUE. OUR LOCAL BOARDS, THERE IS A RICH DEEP CADRE OF ENGAGED, KNOWLEDGEABLE, MOTIVATED PEOPLE WHO WORK WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THEIR LOCAL CIRCUMSTANCES. THIS RESOURCE WILL BE LOST IF LOCAL BOARDS ARE ELIMINATED.

>> THE BILL AS WORK IN PROGRESS AND THE FINAL NUMBER OF PROPOSED DISTRICTS HAS NOT BEEN SET.

>> WE NEED MORE STUDY ABOUT THE BEST LEARNING ENVIRONMENT FOR DIFFERENT AGE GROUPS OF CHILDREN, OPTIMUM CLASS SIZES AND SCHOOL SIZES FOR SUCCESS AND TRANSPORTATION ISSUES.

>> SHE SAYS IT IS NOT YET CLEAR WHAT THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF CONSOLIDATING DISTRICTS WOULD BE, BUT ARGUES THE MOVE COULD HELP SHARE RESOURCES ACROSS THE STATE.

>> AND WE ARE NOT -- I MUST REPEAT THIS. WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT CLOSING SCHOOLS, AND AGAIN, I MUST SAY THAT I THINK EXPANDED SCHOOL DISTRICTS MAY, INDEED, PROTECT SMALL SCHOOLS.

>> REPRESENTATIVE DONOVAN SAYS THE COMMITTEE WILL VOTE ON THE BILL WITHIN THE NEXT FEW DAYS. IF PASSED, IT WILL THEN HEAD TO THE SENATE.

>> HOW DO YOU RESPOND? WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE IDEA OF CONSOLIDATION? COULD THAT SAVE MONEY? COULD THAT GET US OUT OF THIS BIND?

>> IT COULD IF IT'S DONE THE RIGHT WAY. HEIDI'S PROPOSAL AS SOLID, COMPREHENSIVE PROPOSAL THAT DOES INCLUDE HOW YOU CAN SAVE MONEY. THIS PROPOSAL, THERE'S -- NOBODY IS TALKING AND SAYING THAT IT WILL MAKE -- MAKING ANY KIND OF CLAIMS THAT IT WILL SAVE MONEY AND THEY'RE NOT DOING IT WITH OUR COMMITTEE, WHO DOES THE FUNDING. THERE'S NO COORDINATION OF EFFORT BETWEEN THESE TWO AND I DON'T SEE HOW THIS CAN BE A SERIOUS EFFORT UNLESS YOU TOO COMBINE. EVERYBODY TESTIFIED TO US, WE HAD THE PRINCIPALS ASSOCIATION, SUPERINTENDENTS, THEY KEEP TELLING US THAT WE NEED TO WORK WITH HOUSE EDUCATION BECAUSE WE'RE WORKING ON SOME EFFORTS, THEY'RE WORKING ON OTHERS, AND THEY'RE AT CROSS PURPOSES AND I DON'T THINK THIS COULD BE A SERIOUS PROPOSAL UNLESS YOU CAN SEE THAT COORDINATION.

>> I'LL JUST ADD, I AGREE WITH PATTI COMPLETELY. I THINK THAT ANY KIND OF EDUCATION TRANSFORMATION HAS TO BE COMPREHENSIVE. IT NEEDS TO BOTH INCLUDE THE DELIVERY AND STRUCTURE AND SQUAULT AND CONSIDER THE OUTCOMES -- AND QUALITY AND CONSIDER THE OUTCOMBS ACHIEVED AND HOW WE'RE GIBL TO ACHIEVE THE OUTCOMES IN ADDITION TO THE FUNDING. I THINK WE STUCK IN A WAY TALKING ABOUT THEM SEPARATELY, AGAIN THE FUNDING SEPARATE FROM THE QUALITY OF EDUCATION, BUT I DO THINK THAT OUR FOCUS NEEDS TO BE A HOW WE CREATE -- HOW WE EXPAND OPPORTUNITIES FOR OUR KIDS, HOW WE MEET THE NEEDS OF THE 21st CENTURY GLOBAL ECONOMY SO OUR KIDS ARE ABLE TO STEP IN AND ACTUALLY SUCCEED IN THIS NEW ECONOMY. SO I DO SYMPATHY THAT WE NEED TO FOCUS -- THINK WE NEED TO FOCUS ON THAT, BUT IT NEEDS TO BE COMPREHENSIVE IN A WAY THAT WILL BOTH EXPAND OPPORTUNITIES AND IMPROVE OUTCOMES AND DO IT AT A FRIES THAT WE CAN AFFORD.

>> AND BACK TO YOUR COMMENT ABOUT UFRS ON THE TABLE, THERE'S THAT OPTION. OUR COMMITTEE HAS ANOTHER SUGGESTION. THERE'S ONE THAT TALKS ABOUT IDENTIFYING ESSENTIAL EDUCATION AND PAYING FOR THAT, SO THERE ARE SOLID ALTERNATIVES THAT WE CAN BUILD ON THAT ARE SIMPLER AND MORE OF A DIRECT CONNECTION BETWEEN THE BUDGET YOU VOTE ON AND YOUR PROPERTY TAX RATE.

>> AT ONE POINT, $5 BILLION FOR TOTAL SPENDING ON EDUCATION. DO WE SIMPLY SPEND TOO MUCH? IS THERE ANY FUNDING MECHANISM THAT CAN MAKE THAT A LITTLE OF MONEY NOT HURT COME TAX SEASON?

>> I THINK AGAIN, I PERSONALLY WOULD ARGUE, ACTUALLY, AGAINST MORE STATE INVOLVEMENT AND MORE STATE DICTATES ON HOW MUCH WE SPEND OR WHAT WE DO TO SPEND MONEY. I THINK WE NEED TO RETURN THAT CONTROL TO THE LOCALS, AND IF THEY'RE CONNECTED TO THE BUDGET, THEY WILL DECIDE WHAT IS APPROPRIATE SPENDING, BUT WHEN YOU'RE DEPENDENT UPON 250 OTHER COMMUNITIES FOR WAS YOUR TAXES ARE GOING TO BE AND THEIR VETO VOTES ON THEIR SCHOOL BUDGETS, WHEN YOU'RE DEPENDENT ON THAT, THE DISCONNECT IS THERE. IF YOU'RE CONNECTED, THAT IS THE WAY IT'S GOING TO SAVE MONEY AND IMPROVE OUTCOMES AND ENSURE THAT THE TAXPAYERS ARE CONNECTED TO THE OUTCOMES ACHIEVED AS WELL. I WOULD ARGUE AGAINST THE STATE DICTATING MORE AND YOU HAVE TO DO THIS PER-PUPIL SPENDING, BUT THERE ARE OTHER PROPOSALS OUT THERE AS WELL.

>> WE ALSO IN THE STATE HAVE TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE MANDATES THAT WE IMPOSE ON THE SCHOOLS. THE PRINCIPALS ASSOCIATION BROUGHT IN A LIST OF ABOUT 14 PAGES OF THE LAWS THAT WE'VE SIMPOESED ON SCHOOLS OVER THE -- IMPOSED ON SCHOOLS OVER THE LAST TEN YEARS AND WE DO THINGS LIKE TELLING PEOPLE -- WE'VE HAD THE CONCUSSION BILL. THERE'S NO FISCAL NOTE ON THE CONCUSSION BILL AND WE'RE TOLD THAT'S COST THE STATE $750,000. WE HAD NO IDEA. NOT THAT IT'S NOT A WORTHY BILL, BUT THERE'S ONE, GREEN CLEANING PRODUCTS. WE TOLD ALL SCHOOLS THEY HAVE TO USE ENVIRONMENTALLY GREEN CLEANING PRODUCTS IN THE SCHOOLS. I WENT THE OTHER DAY TO BUY LAUNDRY DETERGENT AND IT WAS 6.50 AND RIGHT NEXT TO IT WAS A GREEN ONE AND IT WAS $22. SO BY DOING THINGS LIKE THAT, THERE IS A FINANCIAL IMPACT ON THE SCHOOLS AND WE'RE IMPOSING CHANGES ON THE SCHOOLS AND WE'RE CRITICIZING THEM FOR BUDGETS GOING UP. WE NEED TO BE AWARE, ANY MANDATES WE PASS AT THE STATE LEVEL, WE NEED TO BE PAYING FOR THEM.

>> THERE ARE OTHER MANDATES, SPECIAL EDUCATION COSTS, PERSONNEL COSTS BALLOONING. HOW DO WE TAKE CARE OF THOSE IN THE FUTURE? THAT'S A LARGE PART OF THE RISES WE'RE SEEING.

>> SPECIAL EDUCATION IS ONE OF THE COSTS OVER THE LAST DECADE THAT HAS BALLOONED. I BELIEVE IF WE INSTITUTED BETTER BEST PRACTICES PROGRAMS IN THE STATE WITH REGARD TO SPECIAL EDUCATION, I KNOW MY DISTRICT IN THE PAST, ANYWAY, IN PRIOR YEARS WAS ACTUALLY ONE OF THE ONES KNOWN FOR REALLY DELIVERING HIGH-QUALITY SPECIAL EDUCATION PRODUCTS, YOU KNOW, SERVICES AT A PRETTY REASONABLE PRICE, AND A PRETTY REASONABLE COST. AND I THINK THAT THOSE, YOU KNOW, IF WE COULD HAVE USED BEST PRACTICES AROUND, I KNOW THERE'S A COUPLE OF OTHERS, A PLACE IN WINDHAM COUNTY THAT ALSO IS KNOWN FOR -- I FORGET WHAT DISTRICT IT IS, BUT KNOWN FOR THAT, SO IF WE COULD JUST SHARE SOME BEST PRACTICES FOR CERTAIN SERVICES, WHETHER IT'S A CHILD WITH AUTISM OR A CHILD WITH OTHER KINDS OF SPECIAL NEEDS, I THINK THAT WOULD ACTUALLY HELP. I KNOW THERE'S SOME OF THAT COORDINATION, BUT I THINK THAT NEEDS TO BE IMPROVED.

>> LET'S TALK MORE ABOUT THIS PETITION. WHERE ARE YOU AT? HOW MANY FOLKS HAVE SIGNED UP AND WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH THIS?

>> 700 VERMONTERS HAVE SIGNED UP. PEOPLE GO ON TO GOOGLE AND JUST PUT IN ACT 60/68 REPEAL PETITION, IT WILL COME UP, AND THEY CAN CLICK ON IT THEN AND SIGN UP FOR IT. I'M ABLE TO THEN SEND AN EMAIL OUT TO PEOPLE, SO I'VE UPDATED PEOPLE. I JUST SENT ONE EMAIL TO EVERYONE AND LETTING THEM KNOW WHEN WE DO HAVE THIS AMENDMENT TO GO ON A BILL, WHEN THE BILL COMES OUT, FOR PEOPLE TO CONTACT THEIR LEGISLATORS AND ASK THEM TO SUPPORT THE REPEAL. WE'RE TRYING TO GET IT OUT THERE AND TRYING TO GET AS MANY PEOPLE TO SIGN UP AND REACH OUT TO THEIR FRIENDS AS WELL.

>> WE ALSO HAVE A FACEBOOK PAGE ABOUT AND AGAIN, WE DON'T HAVE A DATE FOR THE VOTE, BUT WE'RE GOING TO HAVE AN AMENDMENT TO THE PROPERTY TAX BILL TO DO THIS, SO WHETHER IT'S THE PETITION OR THE FACEBOOK, WE'LL BE GETTING THE WORD OUT FOR PEOPLE TO CONTACT THEIR LEGISLATORS TO SUPPORT THIS PROPOSAL ON THE FLOOR.

>> PEOPLE FEELING LIKE THEY NEED A CHANGE, THIS IS THE WAY THAT WE CAN EFFECT CHANGE. OTHERWISE, I DON'T SEE ANYTHING HAPPENING. I HOPE PEOPLE PAY ATTENTION AND CONTACT THEIR LEGISLATORS AND PAY ATTENTION TO THE VOTE WE HAVE ON THIS BILL.

>> BUT REALISTICALLY, BOTH OF YOU ARE REPUBLICANS. THE LEGISLATURE IS DOMINATED BY DEMOCRATS. DO YOU REALLY THINK THAT THIS IS GOING TO HAVE ANY SWAY AT ALL?

>> IT'S THE PUBLIC THAT'S INVOLVED, ABSOLUTELY. IF THE PUBLIC CALLS THEIR LEGISLATORS, THEY HAVE CONTROL OF THIS RIGHT NOW. PEOPLE OUT IN THE STREETS HAVE CONTROL.

>> DEMOCRATS ARE HEARING FROM THEIR CONSTITUENTS AS WELL, ALL OVER THE STATE. WE'RE HEARING THAT IN MONTPELIER, THAT THEY'RE HEARING TOO, SO IF THEY REALLY WANT TO DO SOMETHING TO MOVE FORWARD THE CONVERSATION AND THE REDEVELOPMENT OF A NEW EDUCATION FUNDING SYSTEM, THIS IS THEIR OPPORTUNITY. THIS IS THE DEMOCRATIC LEGISLATORS' OPPORTUNITY AS WELL.

>> REPRESENTATIVE KOMLINE, YOU'RE COMMITTEE IS EXPECTED TO VOTE ON A PROPERTY TAX. THROUGHOUT THE YEAR WE'VE HEARD A LOT ABOUT A SEVEN-CENT HIKE, A STRAW POLL TAKEN EARLIER THIS WEEK AND WE'RE RECORDING THIS PRIOR TO FRIDAY WHEN THE VOTE WILL LIKELY OCCUR, INDICATED IT MIGHT BE CLOSER TO FOUR CENTS. WHY THE DIFFERENCE?

>> IT'S FOUR CENTS FOR PEOPLE WHO PAY ON THE PENNY RATE AND IT'S EIGHT CENTS UP FOR NONRESIDENTIAL, SO STACY ANYBODY WHO HAS MORE THAN TWO ACRES OF PROPERTY AND HOMEOWNERS AND BUSINESSES AND THOSE PEOPLE ARE UP EIGHT CENTS. IT'S ACTUALLY FAR MORK BUT THAT'S THE MULTIPLIER THAT'S USED. IT'S GOING TO GO UP A LOT MORE THAN THAT FOR PEOPLE. AND ANYBODY MAKING LESS THAN $90,000 A YEAR, THEIR TAX RATE WILL GO UP. SO IT WAS LOWERED TO FOUR CENTS FOR THE PENNY PEOPLE, BUT IT IS GOING UP FOR OTHER PEOPLE. BUDGETS CAME IN AT LESS THAN PROJECTED. TOWNS HAD AN AVERAGE OF 3 PERCENT RATHER THAN WHAT WE WERE PROJECTING OF 3.8%. THEY USED ONE-TIME MONEY AND RESERVES TO BRING DOWN THE RATE. THAT'S WHERE IT IS. NEXT YEAR, IT'S LOOKING LIKE IT'S GOING TO BE FIVE CENTS. AND IT'S A SHIFTING OF WHO'S PAYING.

>> I'LL ADD, THE FACT THAT WE'RE PUTTING A LARGER BURDEN ON TO OUR SMALL BUSINESSES THROUGHOUT THE STATE IS REALLY PROBLEMATIC. WE FEEL WE'RE NOT OUT OF THIS RECESSION, WE'RE STILL NOT RECOVERED, STILL STRUGGLING. OUR BUSINESSES ARE STILL STRUGGLING TO INVEST AND GROW AND PROVIDE JOBS, AND MEANWHILE, WE HAVE A MINIMUM WAGE BILL COMING UP, WE'VE PAID TIME OFF COMING UP. WE'VE GOT TO LISTEN TO THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY AND OUR SMALL BUSINESSES AROUND THE STATE AS WELL SO THAT -- I'M CONCERNED ABOUT THE BILL AS IT'S COMING OUT OF COMMITTEE AS IT LOOKS LIKE IT'S GOING TO COME OUT OF COMMITTEE ON FRIDAY. SO I JUST -- I DON'T THINK OUR SMALL BUSINESSES CAN TAKE IT.

>> WE NEED TO TAKE A QUICK BREAK RIGHT NOW, BUT WE'RE BACK IN JUST A MOMENT.

>>> WELCOME BACK, EVERYONE. WE'VE SPENT THE FIRST HALF OF THE SHOW DISCUSSING YOUR PROPOSAL TO REPEAL ACT 60/68. LET'S TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE OTHER PRIORITIES WITH THE SECOND HALF OF THE SESSION AND THE SECOND YEAR OF OUR BIENNIUM COMING UP. WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE ISSUES THAT NEED TO GET DONE?

>> I GUESS I'LL JUST START, I GUESS. I THINK AN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, A REAL PROPOSAL THAT WILL ACTUALLY MOVE THE DIAL ON ECONOMIC GROWTH IN THIS STATE. WE'VE NEGLECTED IT FOR TOO LONG AND PUT MORE AND MORE COSTS ON TO OUR SMALL BUSINESSES AND SO I'M -- I'M WORKING ON A PROPOSAL WITH REPRESENTATIVE ROSS IN OUR COMMITTEE, WORKING ON THAT, PAUL ROSSTON FROM MIDDLEBURY, A DEMOCRAT, SO WE'RE WORKING IN A BIPARTISAN WAY AND WE'RE HOPING WE CAN SUCCEED AND DO SOMETHING MEANINGFUL, BUT WE'LL SEE. WE'RE STILL WORKING ON THAT AND OBVIOUSLY HEALTHCARE.

>> YEAH, I'M GLAD TO SEE THAT SENATOR ASH IS PUSHING ON SOME ISSUES SINCE THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE HAS DECLINED TO MOVE THE BALL DOWN THE ROAD AS THEY'RE SAYING, SO THE SENATE IS TRYING TO TAKE SOME ACTION AND CLEAR UP SOME ISSUES AROUND HEALTHCARE. EARLY IN THE SESSION, WE TOOK A LOT OF TESTIMONY ON HEALTHCARE BECAUSE WE WERE TOLD WE WOULD HEAR SOME FUNDING PROPOSALS FROM THE ADMINISTRATION. I FEEL FORTUNATE THAT WE HAVE THAT BASE OF EDUCATION AND THEN THE GOVERNOR -- THERE WAS VERY LITTLE SUPPORT AND A LOT OF SKEPTICISM IN OUR COMMITTEE AND THAT WAS BIPARTISAN. SO WHAT HAPPENED WHEN THE GOVERNOR DECIDED THEY'RE NOT GOING TO BE PRODUCING ANY MORE INFORMATION FOR US THIS YEAR AND CAME OUT WITH A COMMENT THAT OUR COMMITTEE WOULD NOT LOOK THE SAME NEXT YEAR, WHICH WAS ALSO INTERESTING BECAUSE PEOPLE MAY NOT BE AWARE, THE GOVERNOR DOESN'T CONTROL THE LEGISLATURE. SO FOR THE GOVERNOR TO SAY THE COMMITTEE WOULDN'T LOOK THE SAME, I DON'T KNOW WHY HE WOULD THINK HE WOULD HAVE INFLUENCE ON THE MAKEUP OF THAT COMMITTEE.

>> WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT MEANT?

>> I THINK HE THINKS HE DOES HAVE INFLUENCE ON THE MAKEUP OF THAT COMMITTEE AND I DON'T THINK HE DOES. WHAT IT MEANT WAS THAT IT'S THE DEMOCRATS THAT HAVE -- WE ALL HAVE SERIOUS CONCERNS, BUT IT'S THEIR OWN PEOPLE THAT ARE ALSO VOICING CONCERNS AND I THINK IT'S TOO IMPORTANT AN ISSUE TO JUST TRY TO STRONG-ARM PEOPLE ON AND GET THEIR VOTES, AND I THINK HAVING THIS -- WHAT HE DID WAS HE MOVED THE FORMER MAJORITY WHIP INTO PLACE IN A POSITION TO TRY AND INFLUENCE THOSE VOTES, AND, YOU KNOW, I THINK IT'S MORE IMPORTANT TO ACTUALLY ADDRESS THE CONCERNS OF THE PEOPLE AND PARTICULARLY THEIR OWN PEOPLE, THE DEMOCRATS, IN THE COMMITTEE AND GET THOSE CONCERNS ADDRESSED, AND THEY'RE NOT DOING THAT. INSTEAD, THERE'S NO INFORMATION. WE SHOULD BE -- EVERYBODY SHOULD BE VERY CONCERNED ABOUT THAT.

>> I JUST WANT TO ADD, BECAUSE WE'RE STILL DEALING WITH PROBLEMS IN THE EXCHANGE AND VERMONT HEALTH CONNECT AND EVEN LAST WEEK, I WAS STILL WORKING WITH A NUMBER OF MY CONSTITUENTS JUST TO GET THEM SIGNED UP AND ENROLLED. AND CERTAINLY AS I CALLED THE VERMONT HEALTH CONNECT AND EMAILED THEM, THEY'VE BEEN HELPFUL, BUT I DON'T THINK EVERY VERMONTER IS ABLE TO DO THAT AND ABLE TO GET THROUGH.

>> WITH THE DEADLINE, WITH THE DEADLINE. I'M SORRY TO INTERRUPT YOU, BUT MARCH 31st IS THE DEADLINE AND IF YOU DON'T SIGN UP BY MARCH 31st, YOU WON'T HAVE HEALTHCARE THIS YEAR.

>> THAT'S THE END OF OPEN ENROLLMENT.

>> BUT THE CAVALIERNESS WITH WHICH THE GOVERNOR AND HIS ADMINISTRATION SEEMS TO BE ACTING TO OUR DEMANDS THAT WE HAVE A FUNDING PROPOSAL OUT THERE FOR SING GEL PAYOR, WHICH IS COMING UP IN -- LITERALLY, 2017, A VERY SHORT TIME, AND HE VERY WELL CAVALIERLY, WHEN A REPORTER HONESTLY ASKED, WILL YOU HAVE -- WHAT DO YOU THINK WE MIGHT FUND IT WITH OTHER THAN PAYROLL TAX, AND HE SAID LOLLIPOPS AND BUBBLE GUM AND THAT CAVALIERNESS IS REALLY DISTURBING AND UPSETTING TO A LOT OF VERMONTERS, I THINK. THIS IS SERIOUS. THIS IS LIFE AND DEATH IN SOME CASES. THIS IS THEIR HEALTHCARE AND I THINK THAT THAT NEEDS TO BE -- I THINK HE NEEDS TO BE SERIOUS AND COME TO THE TABLE WITH SOME PROPOSALS BEFORE THE END OF THE SESSION AND WE'RE GOING TO CONTINUE TO FIGHT FOR THAT. AS PATTI ALLUDED TO, HE'S NOT WITHIN THE CONSTRAINTS OF THE LAW RIGHT NOW. HE WAS SUPPOSED TO PROPOSE THAT TO US AND HE HASN'T DONE THAT, AND I JUST THINK HE -- VERMONTERS EXPECT THAT AND DESERVE THAT, ESPECIALLY AS WE, YOU KNOW, GO OVER AN ELECTION IN WHICH HE IS RUNNING ON CREATING THIS SINGLE PAYOR SYSTEM IN 2017.

>> OF WHAT YOU HAVE SEEN, WHAT AROR THOUGHTS? BECAUSE THOUGH THE FULL MENU MIGHT NOT BE AVAILABLE, THERE'S CERTAINLY BEEN A COUPLE TIPS OF THE HAND I KNOW YOUR COMMITTEE HAS HAD, THE ADMINISTRATION FUNDING EXPERT ESSENTIALLY IN TO CHAT ABOUT WHAT'S GOING THROUGH HIS --

>> WELL, THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE LEGISLATURE HAVE DIFFERENCES OF OPINION ON HOW MUCH NEEDS TO BE RAISED BY A BIG SWING, ABOUT $600 MILLION, AND AS OUR COMMITTEE CHAIR SAID, WE DON'T DO THOSE SWINGS IN OUR COMMITTEE. YOU HAVE TO NARROW DOWN THE NUMBERS AND FIND OUT WHAT IT'S REALLY GOING TO BE. WOLFE DID A VERY INTERESTING OP ED WHERE HE LAID OUT ALL THE DIFFERENT TAX PROPOSALS, BUT REALLY IT COMES DOWN TO A PAYROLL TAX AND A VERY SIGNIFICANT PAYROLL TAX, BUT PEOPLE ON THE COMMITTEE HAVE RAISED THE ISSUE OF IF YOU HAVE PEOPLE WORKING IN NEW YORK, LET'S SAY, CAN YOU IMPOSE THAT PAYROLL TAX ON THOSE BUSINESSES FOR THEIR EMPLOYEES IN VERMONT AND WILL THEY KEEP THE EMPLOYEES ON OR JUST LET THEM GO? THERE'S SO MANY UNKNOWNS IN THIS, THAT REPRESENTATIVE FROM MANCHESTER, JEFF WILSON, A DEMOCRAT, HAS BEEN VERY VOCAL AND EXPRESSING CONCERNS THAT WE HAVE TO KNOW WHAT THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF THIS, IT'S ACTUALLY ONE OF THE TRIGGERS TO PASS THE LAW. AND HAS SAID, WE NEED TO KNOW WHERE WE ARE NOW, BUT BECAUSE OF THE EXCHANGE, WE DON'T HAVE NUMBERS. WE'RE NOT GOING TO HAVE REALLY GOOD NUMBERS ON WHERE WE ARE AND WHAT OUR SPENDING IS NOW BECAUSE EVERYTHING IS CHANGED. WE NEED A COUPLE YEARS OF THAT BEFORE -- TO REALLY BE ABLE TO ANALYZE THAT BEFORE WE GO FORWARD AND WE REALLY SHOULD POSTPONE THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THIS LAW UNTIL WE HAVE MORE INFORMATION. AND WITH THE EXCHANGE, I MEAN, STORIES THAT WE'RE HEARING FROM PEOPLE, THERE'S A TERRIBLY SAD STORY ABOUT A WOMAN WHOSE HUSBAND WAS IN A TERRIBLE CAR ACCIDENT, WAS BEING TREATED FOR A WHILE, SHE PASSED AWAY, BUT SHE'S NOT SURE SHE HAS HEALTHCARE COVERAGE BECAUSE OF THE PROBLEMS WITH THE EXCHANGE. SHE WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE HAD IT AND THERE WAS A PROMISE THAT SHE DID, BUT SHE NEVER GOT THE PAPERWORK TO SHOW SHE DOES HAVE INSURANCE. THERE'S A LOT OF PEOPLE OUT THERE, SOMEBODY IS TRYING TO GET THEIR INSULIN AND THEY CAN'T SHOW THEY HAVE COVERAGE EVEN THOUGH THE STATE CASHED THEIR CHECK. WE'RE IMPLEMENTING THIS AND LOOKING TO TAKE SOMETHING ELSE, I THINK THEY HAVE THEIR PLATE FULL AND WE NEED TO WORRY ABOUT FIXING WHAT WE HAVE IN FRONT OF US NOW BEFORE WE LOOK TO TAKE ON MORE.

>> VERMONT IS WORKING WITH CGI, THE CONTRACTOR THAT BUILT THE WEBSITE FOR THE EXCHANGE, THAT WAS ANNOUNCED BY COMMISSIONER LARSON THIS PAST WEEK. IS THAT A GOOD IDEA? HE SAYS IT'S THE RIGHT MOVE FOR VERMONT BECAUSE WE'RE SO FAR INTO IT AT THIS POINT AND THE FEDERAL FUNDS WILL DRY UP IN JANUARY 2015, I BELIEVE, TO GET THIS WEBSITE UP AND GOING. IS THIS THE RIGHT MOVE TO STICK WITH THIS CONTRACTOR? NATIONALLY, IT'S BEEN DUMPED.

>> YEAH, THEY HAVEN'T MET DEADLINES. THEY'VE CLEARLY -- THE WEBSITE IS STILL NOT FUNCTIONAL. I DON'T KNOW THE INS AND OUTS OF THE EXACT CONTRACT, BUT I KNOW THAT THERE ARE EXPENSES, DOUBLED LAST YEAR TO 82 MILLION FROM 42 MILLION, AND I DON'T THINK WE'RE GETTING OUR MONEY'S WORTH. I THINK THERE ARE PROFESSIONALS OUT THERE WHO WOULD DO A MUCH BETTER JOB AND SHOULD HAVE BEEN BROUGHT IN. I WILL SAY THAT GOING FORWARD, WHEN WE KNOW THAT THERE WERE DOUBTS, THAT THERE WERE CONCERNS, PRIOR TO THE LAUNCH OF THIS, WE FOUGHT LAST YEAR TO MAKE THE EXCHANGE VOLUNTARY INSTEAD OF MANDATORY AS EVERY OTHER STATE HAS. WE'RE THE ONLY STATE IN WHICH THE EXCHANGE IS MANDATORY, WHICH ADDS TO THE COMPLICATES BECAUSE PEOPLE HAVE TO -- COMPLICATIONS BECAUSE PEOPLE HAVE TO GO THROUGH THIS SYSTEM. WE FOUGHT, BUT THEY KNEW EARLIER, PRIOR TO THE LAUNCH OF THIS, THAT IT WAS NOT GOING TO WORK OR IT WAS VERY DOUBTFUL OR THERE WAS SIGNIFICANT PROBLEMS AND THEY WENT THROUGH IT, AND AGAIN, I THINK THAT WAS A POLITICAL DECISION IN ORDER TO MOVE IT FORWARD AND BRING IT UP, SO I THINK CGI, I THINK THERE ARE OTHER PEOPLE AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS AND COMPANIES THAT COULD DO A BETTER JOB.

>> VERY QUICKLY, I WANT TO GET TO THIS. ONLY STATEWIDE REPUBLICAN RUNNING SO FAR, SEEKING RE-ELECTION. LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR. WHICH REPUBLICAN IS GOING TO STAND UP AGAINST THE GOVERNOR OR ANY OF THE OTHER STATEWIDE RACES?

>> I'M NOT PART OF THOSE CONVERSATIONS, SO I DON'T KNOW MUCH.

>> I THINK THERE ARE CONVERSATIONS GOING ON. I DON'T THINK ANYBODY IS READY TO ANNOUNCE AT THIS POINT, BUT CERTAINLY CONVERSATIONS ARE GOING ON. WE'RE LOOKING AT A STRONG CANDIDATE. I MEAN, I WILL SAY, GIVEN THE -- YOU KNOW, THE GOVERNOR JUST -- YOU KNOW, HE'S RAISED A LOT OF MONEY OUT OF STATE. HE'S HEAD OF THE DGA, HE'S AN INCUMBENT, SO IT WILL BE A DIFFICULT RACE. BUT WITH THAT SAID, I BELIEVE HE'S VULNERABLE, I BELIEVE PEOPLE ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THE DIRECTION IN WHICH THE STATE IS GOING AND I THINK THAT IT IS ABSOLUTELY THAT IF WE HAVE A STRONG CANDIDATE RUNNING, AS LONG AS WE HAVE A STRONG CANDIDATE, THEN ABSOLUTELY HE WILL -- HE COULD BE DEFEATED.

>> STAY TUNED, I GUESS. THANK YOU BOTH VERY MUCH FOR JOINING US THIS MORNING. WE APPRECIATE YOUR TIME.

>> THANK YOU.

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