Commentary

It was a packed house last week at the Scheuermann for House Campaign Kick-Off.

"Thank you to all who turned out to kick-off my campaign for re-election to the Vermont House," said Scheuermann.  "Your incredible support and encouragement is both humbling and inspiring."

People from throughout Stowe - parents and students, small business owners and employees, educators, and seniors - gathered to show their support for the campaign, and listened enthusiastically as Scheuermann outlined some of her work throughout the years, and the very important reasons she would like to continue as Stowe's State Representative.

"Heidi is the epitome of what makes Stowe a great community," said Leslie Anderson.  "Not only does she give tireless of her time and effort to make this a better place for all of us, but her work in the legislature has been instrumental in moving our community forward."

"Danielle and I were honored to co-host the kick-off," added Rich Marron.  "I know how difficult the work is in Montpelier, and Heidi has tackled it admirably through the years.  She has listened tot he thoughts and concerns of our community and has been successful in ensuring that voice is heard and represented in the House.  It is critical that that kind of representation continue."

From Scheuermann’s Speech:

"I still enjoy this job very much, and believe that I provide the experienced, thoughtful, independent voice that Stowe expects, and frankly, deserves, in the Vermont House.

Especially at this time - as we are starting to turn the ship of state around with sustainable spending, lower taxes, and a growing economy - we need to ensure our voice is one that works diligently to continue down that road; and does so by reaching across the aisle to advance sound policies.

On that, my record is clear.

Working with people form across the political spectrum, I have been the leading voice for education funding reform, property tax relief, and local control of education.

My quest for ethics reform and the creation of an independent ethics commission was a lonely one for a long time, but I persisted and we were finally successful last year with great tri-partisan support.

With Democrats, Independents, and Republicans from tourist destinations across the state, I have successfully fought, year after year, for additional investments in tourism and marketing - investments that are so important to our community.

And, for four years, former Democratic Representative Paul Ralston, and I led the effort to make some of the most important changes and investments in years in economic development efforts.  Included among those were: the elimination of the cloud tax, the creation of a first-time homebuyer down payment assistance program; the creation of both an entrepreneurial lending program and a domestic export program to help our manufacturers to to the regional and national markets; and increasing the licensed lender limit from $75,000 to $250,000.

Finally, I was proud to have guided through the legislature this year a bill to modify our beer franchise laws that will allow our craft brewers - a now thriving sector of our state's economy - greater opportunity to get their products to market.  And, I successfully fought against legislation that would have had a dramatic impact on our outdoor recreation industry by opening up the door to a much wider array of legal claims and significant increases in liability insurance.

While I am proud of these accomplishments, there remains a great deal more to do.

The problem of our state's affordability is one we cannot tax our way out of.  More taxation isn't the answer to our aging workforce, nor is it the answer to the slow erosion of our communities through the emigration of our young people.

The solution to these problems requires continued economic growth and the creation of decent opportunities for people to live, work, and raise families.  we must do everything in our power to convince Stowe's, and Vermont's entrepreneurs and business owners that their ideas will be encouraged to succeed rather than challenged to survive.

So, as we look toward our future and see what work remains, it is absolutley critical that Stowe has an experienced, independent, thoughtful voice in Montpeleir that is both willing and able work across the political spectrum to advance good, sound public policy, but also one willing to take on the special interests and fight against bad policy.

I believe I am still that person." 

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https://www.stowetoday.com/stowe_reporter/opinion/opinion_columns/key-elements-are-missing-from-state-budget-proposal/article_403401aa-4ee3-11e8-b0ec-1b5ed0071467.html

... the fiscal year 2019 state budget is winding its way through the process, and without much debate at all, if any, passed the Senate earleir this week.  While I supported the budget as it emerged from the House of Representatives, I have some concerns about the Senate version of the bill.  Specifically, two of the investments I most want to see pass are not funded in the Senate-passed bill.

https://www.stowetoday.com/stowe_reporter/opinion/opinion_columns/a-night-occupancy-fee-is-back/article_93120ac4-43f4-11e8-a717-43a7b5d99019.html

We simply cannot make it more difficult for these small Vermont businesses to achieve success.

https://www.stowetoday.com/stowe_reporter/opinion/opinion_columns/minimum-wage-worthy-goals-but-may-bring-more-harm-than/article_3ba2b8fa-38f6-11e8-a20b-df2beb2ec34a.html

From what I understand, from the perspective of proponents of the mandated increase, the underlying goals are simple, and include: 1) reducing poverty; 2) reducing income inequality; and 3) putting more money in the pockets of low-wage workers so that things are more affordable for them.

Indeed, these are all very worthy goals. Unfortunately, this proposal will do little to address them.

https://www.stowetoday.com/stowe_reporter/opinion/opinion_columns/bill-levels-the-playing-field-for-brewers-and-distributors/article_772d4ae2-2de4-11e8-ac85-af48df7cfab5.html

After a great deal of consideration in the House General, Housing, and Military Affairs Committee, H. 710, a bill I co-sponsored that reforms Vermont's beer franchise laws as they apply to small brewers, passed the full House overwhelmingly last week.

A number of items continue to progress in the Vermont Legislature as we head toward Town Meeting Day Break.

The House General, Housing and Military Affairs Committee, the committee on which I serve, will soon be taking up the #1 priority of some of the Democratic leaders in Montpelier: the increase in the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour.

 

This legislation passed the Senate two weeks ago on a 20-10 vote.  Specifically, the bill proposes to increase the minimum wage to $15.00/hour over the course of the next six years.  While the implementation is now over six years, rather than four, this is still a very problematic proposal for our local small businesses.

A number of items continue to progress in the Vermont Legislature as we head toward Town Meeting Day Break.

The first of these is the #1 priority of the Democratic leaders in Montpelier: the increase in the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour.

This legislation passed the Senate last week on a 20-10 vote, and will now be sent to the House where I believe it will be referred to the committee on which I sit.  The bill proposes to increase the minimum wage to $15.00/hour over the course of the next six years.  While the implementation is now over six years, rather than four, this is still a very problematic proposal for our local small businesses.

While playing politics is certainly not unusual among leaders under the Golden Dome, last week’s particular effort at political opportunism came as a bit of a surprise to many.

 

We are all acutely aware, as it has been well-documented for several years, that Vermont has a significant challenge with regard to our demographics.  As one of the grayest states in the country and one with one of the lowest birth rates, the Vermont workforce is inevitably decreasing.  As a result, many of us are laser focused on trying to reverse that trend.

 

For some reason, however, last week the President Pro Tem of the Senate, Tim Ashe (D-Chittenden), tried to claim that Governor Phil Scott’s oft-repeated emphasis of this challenge is “just not true.”

Ever the optimist, I am pleased to report that for the first time in a very long time, there seems to be some acknowledgement on the part of some Vermont legislators that, in fact, our education funding system is broken. 

 

As most in our region know, this is a tune I have been singing since I arrived in the House a decade after Act 60 went into law.  Unfortunately, though, it has been a lonely road – even as I unveiled various reform proposals through the years.  Now, however, it seems as though the looming 9.4 cent increase in the statewide property tax rate have have lit a fire under other legislators, as well.

Vermont State Legislators returned to Montpelier this week facing significant, although not unexpected, challenges.

 

While last year, thanks to the leadership of Governor Phil Scott, we passed a state budget that did not rely on any increased taxes or fees, it is clear now that it was merely a first step in trying to restore fiscal responsibility and sustainability to our state government.  For too many years prior, we increased state spending by a far larger percentage than our economy grew, simply giving the bill to our hard-working Vermont families and businesses in the form of increased taxes and fees.  Not surprisingly, this resulted in investment being constrained, and anemic economic growth.

 

Now, even as we worked together to find real savings last year, we still face a $45 million budget gap for Fiscal Year 2019, so the finding of greater efficiencies and belt-tightening must continue.