Gov. Peter Shumlin, House Speaker Shap Smith, Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell and key legislative leaders today announced an agreement to avoid raising taxes on Vermonters, and instead focus on spending cuts and efficiencies to achieve a balanced budget for the state.
"We have an agreement among leadership that will allow for a timely adjournment of this session -- an agreement that is right for Vermonters now," the Governor said. "Balancing our budget this session with no additional taxes will help keep our state on a strong path of economic recovery."
"When we entered this session, we were in a different place," said Speaker Smith. "We were facing significant uncertainty regarding the federal sequester. We received a revenue downgrade just as we entered the session. Now, fortunately, the picture is brighter. Our economy is stronger; we have better certainty regarding the effects of the federal cuts; we have a lower unemployment rate and a hopeful future. I am confident that we can achieve our goals of increasing public safety, improving state infrastructure, and investing in the well-being of Vermonters within the current revenues."
"This agreement represents closure on the question of how to balance our FY2014 budget, while accomplishing many of the important goals of this productive session - on public safety, infrastructure investments, and our education system, among others," said President Pro Tem Campbell. "I believe that we can and should meet those challenges through our current revenue framework."
Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees will focus on reducing state spending by about $10 million through cuts and efficiencies, eliminating the need for any additional tax increases.
Noting that the legislature has passed or is poised to pass a number of important initiatives, the Governor said, "This session has been incredibly productive. We are doing the hard work to improve our education system, create jobs, and ensure prosperity for all Vermonters. I am grateful to the legislature for their efforts this session."