House GOP pitches amendment to cut budget growth

House Republicans are proposing an amendment to the Big Bill on Friday that would significantly reduce state spending in 2014.

The amendment would reduce overall General Fund spending growth from 4.7 percent to 3.7 percent. The House GOP would cut the Appropriations Committee budget by $15.9 million.

The Republican caucus holds a minority in the House and is unlikely to garner support from Democrats or Progressives for their proposal.

Don Turner, Minority Leader in the House, told his caucus on Thursday that the plan builds reserves, funds the teacher pension system at a higher level and preserves spending on child care, higher education, working landscape grants and the Low Income Heating Assistance Program.

The House GOP proposal puts $3.8 million in temporary reserves in anticipation of federal sequestration and $15.2 million in the rainy day fund; the House Appropriations Committee puts $3.8 million in temporary reserves and $5.35 million in the rainy day fund.

Gov. Peter Shumlin’s budget increases General Fund spending by 5.8 percent and sets aside no additional monies for internal reserves to address future federal cuts.

An additional $6 million contribution toward teachers’ retirement will bring down overall state expenditures by $11 million over the life of the fund, according to Turner. The total amount Republicans propose to contribute to the pension plan is $10.7 million; the Appropriations Committee set aside about $4 million.

The governor’s proposal to increase payments to providers and reduce the health care cost shift by 3 percent, gets a haircut in the GOP proposal. House Republicans propose a 1 percent increase over three years. This reduction would save about $10 million, according to a spreadsheet from Turner, and result in federal global commitment cuts of roughly $15 million to Department of Vermont Health Access programs ($10 million) mental health ($2 million) substance abuse programs ($500,000), the disabilities program ($2.2 million) and family services ($770,000).

Republicans also cut $2 million for the Clean Energy Development Fund.

Here are the details on additional cuts:

$1.5 million in subsidies to Catamount Health and Vermont Health Access Plan patients;

$125,000 for Vermont Legal Aid;

$200,000 for the Vermont Attorney General’s office;

$450,000 for economic development;

$322,250 for expanded school lunch;

$74,000 for a new forester;

$390,000 for the Department of Environmental Conservation;

$100,000 for the Council on the Arts;

$8,000 for the Youth Conservation Corps;

$22,000 for the Vermont Symphony Orchestra;

$500,000 for the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board;

$45,000 for the Council on the Humanities.

Anne Galloway

Comment Policy requires that all commenters identify themselves by their authentic first and last names. Initials, pseudonyms or screen names are not permissible.

No personal harrassment, abuse, or hate speech is permitted. Be succinct and to the point. Comments should be 1000 characters or fewer. If your comment is over 500 words, consider sending a commentary instead.

We personally review and moderate every comment that is posted here. This takes a lot of time; please consider donating to keep the conversation productive and informative.

The purpose of this policy is to encourage a civil discourse among readers who are willing to stand behind their identities and their comments. VTDigger has created a safe zone for readers who wish to engage in a thoughtful discussion on a range of subjects. We hope you join the conversation. If you have questions or concerns about our commenting platform, please review our Commenting FAQ.

Privacy policy
Thanks for reporting an error with the story, "House GOP pitches amendment to cut budget growth"