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What to expect from the 2013 Vermont State Legislature

Commentary

— Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) has a sweeping program of action for Vermont’s new General Assembly, and it’s a safe bet that he’ll get ninety percent of what he wants. Here’s a quick snapshot of the leading issues:

The FY14 General Fund deficit is currently estimated at $50-70 million. The governor has told agencies to level fund and absorb pay increases. The highly touted “Challenge for Change” process (2009-2011) apparently didn’t enable the state to live within its revenues, even allowing for the unexpected Tropical Storm Irene costs.Further, Congress’s resolution of the “fiscal cliff” may result in both higher taxes and large reductions in Federal spending, for instance, on Medicaid, 30% of Vermont’s General Fund budget.

Act 48 of 2011 requires the Administration to explain by January 15 how it plans to raise as much as $3 billion a year to fund Green Mountain Care in 2017. Already the Administration is hinting that maybe everybody should just wait another year to find out, during which time the machinery of single payer will rumble forward.

Gov. Shumlin will push hard for more mandates and subsidies to force Vermont toward his arbitrary goal of 90% renewable energy by 2050 and greenhouse gas emissions reduced to 50 percent of 1990 levels by the same year. He has never wavered in his peculiar belief that Vermont must show the world how to defeat the “unspeakably horrid” Menace of Global Warming, and “claim our energy independence” – no matter what the cost.

Since driving up the cost of electricity, motor fuel and heating fuel – essential if low cost energy is to be replaced with high cost renewable energy – socks the poor and middle class much more than the rich, look for new energy taxes to include a new subsidy scheme for the middle class, to compensate them for being made to pay the higher energy costs required of them to save the planet from Al Gore’s Heat Death.

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