(Host) Governor Peter Shumlin’s speech was met by criticism from both the right and the left of the political spectrum.
His likely Republican challenger says the governor has advanced policies that will raise the cost of living in Vermont. But other advocates say Shumlin should consider raising taxes to fund threatened programs.
VPR’s John Dillon has more:
(Dillon) Before the governor’s state of the state address, a half-dozen members of the Occupy Central Vermont movement gathered in a Statehouse hallway.
They were planning a silent commentary during the speech.
(Pombar) "So when you do the wiggly fingers jazz hands, it means I like what I’m hearing. If you put your hands flat out in front of you, it means I’m unsure or need more information. When you put hands down facing, it means I don’t like what I’m hearing."
(Dillon) Bethany Pombar from Montpelier gave Shumlin a strong hands-down on his pledge not to raise broad-based taxes. She says Vermont needs more money from its wealthiest residents in order to help the less fortunate.
(Pombar) "I would like to see more progressive tax policy … What we’re seeing is that the Legislature is looking at the budget and seeing what we can do with what we have versus looking at other alternatives, like increasing revenues."
(Dillon) Chris Pearson is a Progressive representative from Burlington. He also did not applaud the line in Shumlin’s speech about no new taxes. Pearson would like the governor to address tax equity issues.
(Pearson) "Most Vermonters agree that inequality in our economic structure is bad for our communities across the board. I’m going to keep advocating for greater equity in the way we raise revenues and I’m going to keep advocating to not cut budgets and instead look to revenue sources to close the gap."
(Dillon) But Franklin Republican Senator Randy Brock says Shumlin already raised broad-based revenues with new taxes imposed last year on hospitals.
Brock – who is Shumlin’s likely Republican challenger – says the governor did do a good job in guiding the state through Tropical Storm Irene and its aftermath. But he says the governor’s policy priorities are misguided and could prove costly for the state in the long run.
Brock singled out Shumlin’s call for the state to adopt a renewable portfolio standard – which would require that utilities get a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources.
(Brock) "And what it means is that there will be $300 to $400 million of additional cost put on ratepayers over the 20-year period of that program. Now that to me is not necessarily a job creator."
(Dillon) Brock says businesses are also leery of the governor’s proposed single payer health plan.
He says he’ll address these and other issues during the gubernatorial campaign.
For VPR News, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.