Time to change culture of Montpelier

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In bizarre moments of political posturing, Democratic House Speaker Mitzi Johnson continues to downplay the opportunity to achieve up to $26 million annually in property tax savings, saying “I don’t believe that is worth the veto.”

The speaker has gone on to suggest the savings could be “less than a tank of gas.” Unfortunately, the speaker doesn’t understand families across the state continue to struggle to pay their bills and put food on the table. After six years and $300 million in increased taxes and fees (which Democrats have couched as “minor increases” but compound each year) Vermonters living paycheck-to-paycheck are looking for change.

Gov. Phil Scott and Republicans understand every dollar the state can save, or every dollar that isn’t spent, is a big deal. That’s why they’ve offered plans to create a statewide health care contract for teachers, saving taxpayers millions all while making sure teachers don’t have to pay more and school programs avoid cuts. These are the kind of ideas and policies Vermonters are looking for and expect from Montpelier.

Unfortunately, at the end of the session, Speaker Johnson, Pro Tempore Tim Ashe and Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman helped force the budget through without these savings, a clear sign they are advocating against the interests of taxpayers and for their true allegiance — the Vermont NEA and the lobbyists who helped bankroll their campaigns.

In his veto of the budget and property tax bill, Gov. Scott said, “Vermont faces an immediate and growing crisis of affordability, and recapturing the available savings – without asking school employees to pay more or cutting programs for kids – can only happen during the unique set of circumstances at this moment. Without a mechanism to ensure the savings are achieved, these bills currently create an environment that will eat away the available savings and, therefore, our ability to lower property tax rates.”

Gov. Scott deserves credit for bringing a new perspective to Montpelier; the message he is sending is loud and clear: $26 million in potential savings is a big deal, and every dollar in savings makes a real difference for so many Vermonters who are trying to get by.

Now is the time to join us in support of Gov. Scott and his plan. Stand up and continue to elect more common-sense Vermont Republicans to the legislature. Together, we can and we must change the culture in Montpelier.  If we don’t, we’ll continue to watch the majority shrug off taxpayer savings as “less than a tank of gas” and Vermonters will fall victim to tax-and-spend approach to government, rather than living within our means and promoting opportunities and prosperity for all Vermonters.

Jeff Bartley is the executive director of the Vermont Republican Party. He is a member of the Colchester Selectboard.