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Minter outlines tax policy


MONTPELIER — Democratic gubernatorial nominee Sue Minter says she will seek tax fairness as governor and look to lower the burden on low- and middle-income Vermonters by closing loopholes enjoyed by the wealthy and corporations. According to Minter, the tax policies she will propose as governor may incorporate some elements of the Blue Ribbon Tax Structure Commission report released in 2011. The report, which was shelved by policymakers in Montpelier, recommended expanding the sales tax to “all consumer-purchased services with limited exceptions for certain health and education services and business to business service transactions.”

Minter expressed an interest in dusting off the commission’s report during a WDEV radio debate on Sept. 14, saying she would look at expanding the base of the sales tax to include services. Her Republican opponent, Lt. Gov. Phil Scott and the Vermont Republican Party pounced, announcing to Vermonters in a coordinated effort that Minter wants to tax hair cuts, among other services that Vermonters pay for. Continue Reading →

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Scott releases economic plan, seeks tax cuts and credits

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, the Republican nominee for governor, discusses his economic plan at Firetech Sprinkler in Colchester. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

COLCHESTER — Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, the Republican nominee for governor, released an economic plan Thursday that he says will focus on major fiscal issues and lead to a more vibrant economy. Scott, who co-owns Dubois Construction with a cousin, released the plan at a news conference at Firetech Sprinkler, saying it will lead to job creation and help lift wages for Vermonters. He chose to hold the press conference Thursday morning rather than attend a debate hosted by WDEV radio at the Tunbridge World’s Fair with his Democratic opponent, Sue Minter. “As a small business owner myself, I put my faith in the skills, work ethic and ingenuity of working Vermonters every single day. That’s why Vermonters can count on me to lead a state government that leverages our talented work force and our commitment to hard work and innovation,” he said. Continue Reading →

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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 →

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State revenues get slight downgrade

Economists Tom Kavet and Jeff Carr deliver an updated revenue forecast to the Emergency Board. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

MONTPELIER — Economists for the Shumlin administration and the Legislature have revised projected state revenues downward for the remainder of the current fiscal year and the next fiscal year for the general and education funds. The new consensus forecast was delivered to the Emergency Board Tuesday by Tom Kavet and Jeff Carr, consulting economists for the administration and lawmakers. The general fund is now expected to see $4.7 million less revenue in the current 2016 fiscal year and $9.1 million less in the 2017 fiscal year. The education fund, meanwhile, is expected to see $1 million less in the current fiscal year and $500,000 less in the 2017 fiscal year. The transportation fund is now expected to grow by $900,000 more in the current fiscal year and $1.1 million more in the 2017 fiscal year. Continue Reading →

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Listen: Capitol Beat with the Governor 1.15.16


Vermont Press Bureau chief Neal Goswami and Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin discuss his trip to Iowa this week to stump for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the use of the Enterprise Fund and potential changes to Act 46, the education reform bill passed last year. Continue Reading →

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Donegan: Legal pot market will have difficulties with banking, insurance

Department of Financial Regulation Commissioner Susan Donegan

MONTPELIER — Vermont Department of Financial Regulation Commissioner Susan Donegan says banking services will be limited if Vermont legalizes marijuana for businesses in the market but it could also present some opportunities for institutions in Vermont. Donegan provided testimony Thursday to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is reviewing two bills that would legalize marijuana. The federal government still considers the drug to be illegal, however, which has created issues for Colorado and Washington where marijuana has been legalized at the state level. Businesses selling marijuana in the those states have not been able to access the federally insured banking system. How Vermont businesses would fare in a legal marijuana market in the state was immediately raised by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Sears, D-Bennington, on Thursday. Continue Reading →

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State officials not banking on windfall from Keurig sale


MONTPELIER — The pending sale of Keurig Green Mountain is set to make a number of shareholders wealthy, but it also could deliver a significant windfall to the state’s coffers through the collection of capital gains taxes. The acquisition of Keurig, the Waterbury-based coffee giant, by JAB Holding Co. was announced in December, but is expected to close some time in the first quarter of 2016. The $13.9 billion transaction is an all cash deal and will pay shareholders $92 per share. Generally speaking, anyone earning income through a capital gain can exempt the first $5,000 in earnings, according to Tax Commissioner Mary Peterson. Continue Reading →

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WATCH: Capitol Beat — Week 1 at the State House


Vermont Press Burea chief Neal Goswami sits down with Senate Majority Leader Philip Baruth, D-Chittenden, to discuss the suspension of Franklin County Republican Sen. Norm McAllister. House Minority Leader Don Turner, R-Milton, also joins the program to discuss Gov. Peter Shumlin’s State of the State address. Continue Reading →

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Gov candidates talk business

MONTPELIER — The four candidates for governor made their cases Wednesday that each of them would be the best person to support the manufacturing industry in Vermont. Republican candidates Bruce Lisman and Phil Scott — and Democrats Matt Dunne and Sue Minter — addressed taxes, education and refugees during the 95th annual meeting of the Associated Industries of Vermont, which represents the manufacturing industry in the state. Lisman, who is running on his extensive business experience — having managed more than 2,300 employees in the financial, insurance and electric utility sectors — discussed the issues he sees holding back manufacturing and, ultimately, the state economy. “I think we all see the same problems: a stagnant economy, declining school enrollment, rising property taxes, ballooning state budgets and a shrinking manufacturing base, among other challenges,” Lisman said. “This all fundamentally stems from Vermont’s lack of economic competitiveness.”

Lisman offered a number of proposals, such as streamlining the permit process for construction and and examining all legislation to determine the impact it would have on businesses and the cost of living for workers. Continue Reading →

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Experts debate carbon tax in Vermont

Panelists debate the merits of a carbon tax before a large audience at the Capitol Plaza in Montpelier on Thursday night. From left are John McClaughry, Rob Roper, Paul Burns and Jon Erickson. (Times Argus/Jeb Wallace-Brodeur)

MONTPELIER — Can 600,000 Vermonters slow the effects of climate change? That was the essential question posed Thursday night before a standing-room-only crowd of more than 100 during a debate on the merits of imposing a tax on carbon emissions. During the upcoming legislative session that begins in January, lawmakers are expected to discuss a pair of carbon tax proposals offered by Rep. Christopher Pearson, P-Burlington, and Rep. David Deen, D-Putney. Thursday’s discussion was set against the backdrop of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, where, next week, Gov. Peter Shumlin will discuss Vermont’s efforts to curb carbon emissions and encourage the creation of renewable energy. Speaking in favor of a carbon tax were Paul Burns, of the Vermont Public Interest Research Interest Group, and Jon Erickson, an economist and a fellow with the University of Vermont’s Gund Institute. Continue Reading →

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