Bruce Lisman

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Story & Video: Lawmakers divided over budget address

Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Staff Photo
House Minority Leader Don Turner, R-Milton, gives his response to Gov. Peter Shumlin's final budget address on Thursday in Montpelier.

MONTPELIER — Depending upon whom you ask, the proposals offered by Gov. Peter Shumlin during his final budget address are either steps to improve Medicaid and educational opportunities for children, or yet-another call for new taxes. Shumlin offered a number of ideas as he rolled out his final budget, such as new taxes for doctors and dentists to make up for the Medicaid funding shortfall, and and increased fees for mutual funds to offer savings accounts for every child born in Vermont. Sen. Majority leader Joe Benning, R-Caledonia, compared the speech to a host offering prizes on a game show. “I don’t think it should be anybody’s prerogative to stand at the podium like Bob Barker on ‘The Price is Right,’” said Benning, who took issue with the governor’s statement that last year’s rejection of an increase in the payroll tax resulted in federal matching funds being left on the table in Washington. “We have a wicked opiate problem in this state, and this legislature has a wicked addiction of its own, and that’s its enslavement to federal funding,” Benning said. Continue Reading →

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Lisman releases financial data, worth $50.9 million

Bruce Lisman

This story was updated at 1:40 p.m. to include comments from Bruce Lisman

MONTPELIER — Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Lisman released financial information Monday showing his net worth to be $50.9 million with an income of $1.67 million in 2014. Lisman, who is squaring off against Lt. Gov. Phil Scott in a Republican primary for the state’s top elected office, is the first of the four major-party candidates to release personal financial information. The retired Wall Street executive spent four decades in the financial services industry and retired as a senior manager at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. There he oversaw operations in stock brokerage, according to his campaign. Lisman had total income of $1,675,299 in 2014, primarily from dividends, interest and investment gains, according to tax documents released Monday. 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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Gubernatorial candidates divided on expanding background checks for gun sales

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ubernatorial candidates are divided over the need to strengthen the state’s gun control laws. Sue Minter, one of two Democratic candidates for governor, has come out strongly in favor of requiring universal background checks for all firearm sales in Vermont, regardless of the nature of the transaction. “I am committed to requiring universal background checks for gun sales – including those that occur at gun shows, flea markets, and private sales,” Minter wrote in a statement to her supporters one day after a mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., claimed the lives of 14 people. “Background checks are currently required for all gun sales at Vermont’s federally registered firearms dealers,” Minter’s statement continued. “The same standard should apply to all gun sales.”

In a subsequent interview, Minter rejected the argument that the state’s gun laws do not need to be changed because Vermont is already among the safest places to live in the United States. Continue Reading →

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Story + Video: Scott launches bid for governor

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott stands with his family after formally launching his campaign for governor in South Burlington on Dec. 1. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

https://youtu.be/Fmrc0PbqPzc

SOUTH BURLINGTON — Highlighting his blue collar upbringing, Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott formally launched his campaign for governor Tuesday with a promise to rebuild the state’s economic foundation. Several hundred supporters joined Scott, 57, at the Sheraton Hotel Tuesday evening for his long-awaited campaign kickoff. Known for his nice-guy image and message of creating a more affordable Vermont, Scott delivered many familiar themes. He promised to “set a steady, more predictable and less political course.” He said some Vermonters feel “trapped” and “even victimized” by an economy that has left them behind. “We have to be willing to do things differently if we want different results,” Scott declared. Continue Reading →

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After briefings, Scott more comfortable with vetting of refugees

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott

MONTPELIER — Lt. Gov. Phil Scott says he has become more comfortable with the vetting of Syrian refugees after learning more from state and federal officials about the process. Listen: Vermont Press Bureau Report for VPR News

Scott, who is a candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination for governor, called for a pause in allowing Syrian refugees to be relocated in Vermont following the Nov. 13 terror attacks in Paris. Former Wall Street executive Bruce Lisman, Scott’s primary opponent in the gubernatorial race, has called for a similar halt to the program. The attacks have sparked a debate across the country, and in Vermont, about whether Syrian refugees pose a national security risk. Continue Reading →

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Syrian refugee issue draws protesters, supporters

Crystal Zevon, of Barnet

MONTPELIER – Security or compassion? Those two positions drew approximately 50 people to the State House on Friday in demonstrations in opposition to and in support of Vermont accepting refugees from Syria. The demonstrations — overwhelmingly in favor of allowing Syrian refugees in Vermont — follow a statement earlier this week from Gov. Peter Shumlin, who said Vermont would welcome refugees from Syria, a position that finds him at odds with many other state governors who have said they did not want refugees from the war-torn failed state following recent attacks in Beirut and Paris that left nearly 200 people dead. In a  subsequent interview with The Vermont Press Bureau, Shumlin said rejecting the refugees would not reflect the values of the nation. “It is not the way that we as Americans and as Vermonters promote a free and just society that is the foundation for the greatest democracy in the world,” Shumlin said. Continue Reading →

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Story and podcast – Shumlin: U.S. and Vermont should welcome refugees

Gov. Peter Shumlin speaks about welcoming Syrian refugees to Vermont on the Capitol Beat podcast. (VPB/Neal Goswami)
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MONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin says Republican gubernatorial candidates, like their fellow Republicans seeking the presidency, are stoking fear and bigotry by calling for a halt to Syrian refugees relocating in America. Less than a week since the terror attacks in Paris jolted the world and sparked new fears about the threat of global terrorism and the reach of ISIS, conversation across the U.S., including Vermont, has focused on the plight of Syrian refugees fleeing their war-torn country, and the extent of America’s responsibility and moral obligation to help. Listen to Gov. Peter Shumlin discuss Syrian refugees on the Capitol Beat podcast:

Shumlin, in an interview with the Vermont Press Bureau Wednesday, said Syrian refugees, like immigrants from all nations in past years, will make American and Vermont a better place. “I really feel that America was created on the backs of folks who emigrated to this country under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. Some were fleeing war, some were fleeing death squads. Continue Reading →

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Commentary: Local control matters

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ermont schools struggle to recruit quality teachers, to maintain their facilities, and to keep students in their classrooms. They struggle to provide quality education to our children who need skills for todays’ workforce. They struggle to sell tax increases — which they don’t control — to property owners. And, now they struggle to navigate a confusing and oversold education reform package known as Act 46. Lawmakers who voted for Act 46 now call for “fixes” and “tweaks” to smooth over the most objectionable parts. But, there is no fixing it — Act 46 must be repealed. Continue Reading →

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