Economists: state revenues to grow less than expected

Economists Tom Kavet, right, and Jeff Carr, left, present a new revenue forecast to the Emergency Board on Thursday, July 21. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

MONTPELIER — Economists for the Shumlin administration and Legislature issued a revised state revenue forecast for the current fiscal year Thursday that projects a total of $28 million less in revenue, but growth over the 2016 fiscal revenues. Tom Kavet and Jeff Carr, consulting economists for the administration and lawmakers, issued their revised revenue forecast Thursday to the state’s Emergency Board, which includes the governor and the four chairs of the Legislature’s money committees. Revenue for the state’s general fund was lowered by $21 million, while revenues for the transportation and education funds were lowered by $3.5 million and $3.4 million, respectively. Still, revenues are expected to grow above the 2016 fiscal year, which closed on June 30, both Kavet and Carr said. “The upturn continues, that’s the good news,” Carr told the Emergency Board. Continue Reading →

Minter ad focuses on guns, domestic violence

Sue Minter

MONTPELIER — A new television ad from Democratic gubernatorial candidate focuses on guns and domestic violence. Minter, a former secretary of the Agency of Transportation, released her third television ad Wednesday in her primary race against former Google executive and Windsor County state senator Matt Dunne and former diplomat and Windham County state senator Peter Galbraith. Titled, “Won’t Back Down,” Minter links gun deaths in Vermont to domestic violence. Citing the Vermont Domestic Violence Fatality Commission, Minter says that domestic violence causes “most” homicides in Vermont and “half of them involve guns.”

“The gun lobby doesn’t like that and I’m the candidate for governor who’s willing to talk about it. I won’t back down from this fight. Continue Reading →

Scott launches first TV ad in gubernatorial primary

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott

MONTPELIER — Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott has released his first television ad, calling out primary rival Bruce Lisman for “misleading” attacks. The 30-second Scott ad is the first in a series that will run through the Aug. 9 primary, according to the campaign. “What might pass for business as usual on Wall Street has never been in line with Vermont values,” Scott says at the outside. “While my opponent’s misleading ads are disappointing, Vermonters know the truth.”

Scott also highlights his small business, a construction firm, in the ad. Continue Reading →

Revenue downgrade expected Thursday

Revenue

MONTPELIER — The Shumlin administration is expecting economists to issue a downgraded revenue forecast this week, continuing a trend of lackluster revenue growth in recent years. The state’s Emergency Board — comprising the governor and the heads of Legislature’s four money committees — will gather Thursday to receive a new consensus forecast. The updated revenue prediction is not expected to be good news. Administration Secretary Justin Johnson said the administration expects Tom Kavet and Jeff Carr, consulting economists for the administration and lawmakers, to predict lower revenues for the 2017 fiscal year than they first forecast in January. The revenue forecast accepted by the Emergency Board in January already included a $9.1 million downgrade for 2017. Continue Reading →

Story-Video-Podcast: Smith: Experience counts

Shap Smith
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MONTPELIER — Democratic House Speaker Shap Smith believes his eight years leading the House sets him apart from his primary rivals in the lieutenant governor’s race and leaves him most prepared to assume the top job if needed. Smith, 50, joined the Democratic primary for the state’s second-highest office in May — months after his two rivals, Chittenden County Sen. David Zuckerman and Burlington Rep. Kesha Ram. That came after Smith announced his candidacy for governor last August, but withdrew from the race in November after his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. Despite the late start, Smith said he has been able to utilize his vast network of supporters in the Legislature to help jump-start his campaign. “We stood up a campaign very quickly. Continue Reading →

Story-Video-Podcast: Lisman touts career, new ideas

Bruce Lisman
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MONTPELIER — After a long and lucrative career on Wall Street, Bruce Lisman is looking to transition from high finance to politics in his bid for governor. The 69-year-old Burlington native is facing off in a Republican primary against Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, a popular politician with a nice-guy image. Despite having founded the advocacy group Campaign for Vermont in 2011 and serving as its voice and face, Lisman has faced a substantial disadvantage in name recognition. As a result, he has launched several television ads seeking to link Scott with Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin, who is not seeking a fourth two-year term. For some, the commercials have come across as negative campaigning, but Lisman has maintained that they are contrast ads designed to show how Lisman would take Vermont in a new direction. Continue Reading →

Candidates raise big bucks

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MONTPELIER — Candidates for Vermont’s top statewide offices have reported big fundraising hauls since March, led by Republican Bruce Lisman, a former Wall Street executive, who has contributed more than $1 million to his own campaign for governor. Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott reported Friday that he has raised $350,000 since the last reporting period on March 15. According to his campaign finance disclosure form filed with the secretary of state’s office Friday, Scott has spent about $250,000 in the past four months. Overall, Scott has raised about $860,000 and spent about $467,000. He has $370,000 cash on hand with less than a month to go before the Aug. Continue Reading →

Story-Video-Podcast: Galbraith brings progressive agenda

Peter Galbraith
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MONTPELIER — Peter Galbraith is running for governor with a progressive agenda shaped by his experiences overseas and from the experiences of his parents. The 65-year-old Democrat from Townsend has unveiled an unapologetically progressive platform, calling for, in part, a $15 per hour minimum wage, a ban on corporate campaign contributions and continuing down the path toward a publicly financed, universal health care system. Those ideas, and his quest for social and economic justice, stem from the values he learned from his parents and his experiences as a diplomat in war-torn areas. “From both of my parents come the values that I have and really a sense that we can have a more just society, that public goods like education, the arts, the environment, are things to be valued,” he said. Galbraith’s mother was a fourth generation Vermonter whose life was “shaped by the great events of the 20th century,” Galbraith said. Continue Reading →

Story-Video-Podcast: Ram: Unique insight into Vermonters’ struggles

Kesha Ram
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Listen to Kesha Ram discuss the issues:

MONTPELIER — Kesha Ram launched her political career at the urging of someone who went on to become most powerful man on Earth. In 2006, while a sophomore at the University of Vermont, Ram introduced then-U.S Sen. Barack Obama and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders at a rally in the Ira Allen Chapel on the college’s campus. “In the middle of his speech — and he has a father from Kenya and a mother from Kansas and I have a father from India and a mother from Illinois — Barack turned to Bernie and said, ‘Bernie, if you don’t behave yourself, we’re going to run Kesha for the Senate instead of you,’” Ram recalled. “It was the first time anyone encouraged me to run for office, and I thought, ‘If there a place for a person like him in politics, maybe there’s a place for someone like me.’”

The now-29-year old — she will turn 30 one week before the Aug. 9 primary — is engaged in a three-way race for the Democratic Party nomination for lieutenant governor, facing off against former House Speaker Shap Smith and Sen. David Zuckerman. Continue Reading →

Poll gives Scott, Minter edge in primaries

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MONTPELIER — Sue Minter has a slight edge over gubernatorial primary rival Matt Dunne, according to a new poll commissioned and released Thursday by Energy Independent Vermont. The telephone poll of 600 Vermonters, which focuses on Vermonters’ opinions about climate change and efforts to combat it, also queried Vermonters’ on their choice for governor in both the Democratic and Republican Primaries. On the Democratic side, Minter, a former secretary of the Agency of Transportation, garnered the support of 36 percent of those who said they planned to vote in the Democratic primary. Dunne, a former state senator and Google executive, tallied 31 percent support. Peter Galbraith, a former diplomat and state senator had 8 percent support. Continue Reading →