Vermont wins $35 million in tax credits for economic development

first_imgSenators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Representative Peter Welch (D-VT) announced today that Vermont Rural Ventures will receive $35 million in federal tax credits to spur economic development projects throughout the state. ‘These tax credits will leverage private investment dollars, creating jobs for Vermonters and supporting long-term economic growth in our communities,’ Leahy said. ‘This award is particularly timely for Vermont, given the economic impact and loss of jobs due to Irene. These funds will be used to create good-paying jobs where we need them most,’ Sanders said. ‘This is great news,’ Welch added. ‘With a tough economy and rising gas prices squeezing family budgets, many Vermonters are struggling to find good paying jobs and make ends meet. These targeted investments will give a much-needed economic boost to parts of the state that need it most.’ ‘We are thrilled that Treasury made this award to Vermont,’ said Nancy Owens, president of Vermont Rural Ventures.  ‘The program has meant jobs for Vermonters and opportunities for people in low-income communities.  Vermont Rural Ventures staff and board are eager to invest these dollars to support community development, manufacturing, and added-value farm and forest businesses.’ A subsidiary of the Burlington-based nonprofit group Housing Vermont, Vermont Rural Ventures previously received $30 million in credits from the program administered by the U.S. Treasury Department. The tax credits helped finance a significant expansion of the Weidmann Electrical Technology manufacturing facility in St. Johnsbury, a new Community College of Vermont building in Rutland, and a new campus for Laraway Youth and Family Services in Johnson. The New Markets Tax Credit Program was established by Congress in 2000 to spur investment of private capital in economic development projects in communities with high poverty and high unemployment.  Under the program, investors receive a tax credit against their federal income tax return in exchange for making equity investments in eligible economic development projects.  Since the program’s inception, almost $30 billion in tax credit authority has been allotted through a competitive application process. Congressional Delegation. WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2012last_img read more

Vermont home prices slip nearly 3 percent since last year

first_imgWhile the nation on average has seen a small growth in home values over the last year, Vermont homes dropped in price an average of 2.8 percent, according to a national rating service. CoreLogic broke its surveys into two groups, average home prices including distressed sales (foreclosure, etc), and non-distressed. In the non-distressed sales category, Vermont home sale prices were fourth worst in the US, showing a decline of 2.8 percent. In the “including distressed sales” category, where the range of loss was greater across the country, Vermont did little better, coming in sixth worst at minus 4.7 percent. Delaware was worst overall in both categories, declining at over 10 percent. Including distressed sales, Arizona was the best, while Utah was best when excluding distressed sales. CoreLogic (NYSE: CLGX), a leading provider of information, analytics and business services, today released its April Home Price Index (HPI) report. Home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased on a year-over-year basis by 1.1 percent in April 2012 compared to April 2011. This was the second consecutive year-over-year increase this year, and the first time two consecutive increases have occurred since June 2010. On a month-over-month basis, home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 2.2 percent in April 2012. This marks the second consecutive month-over-month increase this year.Excluding distressed sales, prices increased 2.6 percent in April 2012 compared to March 2012, the third month-over-month increase in a row. The CoreLogic HPI also shows that year-over-year prices, excluding distressed sales, rose by 1.9 percent in April 2012 compared to April 2011. Distressed sales include short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions.Beginning with the April 2012 HPI report, CoreLogic is introducing a new and exclusive metricâ the CoreLogic Pending HPI that provides the most current indication of trends in home prices. The Pending HPI indicates that house prices will rise by at least another 2.0 percent, from April to May. Pending HPI is based on Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data that measure price changes in the most recent month.â We see the consistent month-over-month increases within our HPI and Pending HPI as one sign that the housing market is stabilizing,’said Anand Nallathambi, president and chief executive officer of CoreLogic. â Home prices are responding to a restricted supply that will likely exist for some time to comeâ an optimistic sign for the future of our industry.ââ Excluding distressed sales, home prices in March and April are improving at a rate not seen since late 2006 and appreciating at a faster rate than during the tax-credit boomlet in 2010,’said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. â Nationally, the supply of homes in current inventory is down to 6.5 months, a level not seen in more than five years, in part driven by the â locked in’position of so many homeowners in negative equity.âHighlights as of April 2012:Including distressed sales, the five states with the highest appreciation were: Arizona (+8.8 percent), District of Columbia (6.4 percent), Florida (+5.5 percent), Montana (+5.4 percent), and Utah (+5.4 percent).Including distressed sales, the five states with the greatest depreciation were: Delaware (-11.9 percent), Illinois (-6.8 percent), Alabama (-6.6 percent), Rhode Island (-6.2 percent), and Georgia (-5.6 percent).Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the highest appreciation were: Utah (+5.3 percent), Idaho (+5.1 percent), Mississippi (+4.7 percent), Louisiana (+4.6 percent) and Arizona (+4.6 percent).Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the greatest depreciation were: Delaware (-10.1 percent), Rhode Island (-6.2 percent), Alabama (-4.4 percent), Vermont (-2.8 percent) and Connecticut (-2.3 percent).Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to April 2012) was -31.7 percent. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the HPI for the same period was -23.3 percent.The five states with the largest peak-to-current declines including distressed transactions are Nevada (-58.9 percent), Florida (-46.5 percent), Arizona (-46.5 percent), Michigan (-43.6 percent) and California (-41.0 percent).Of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population, 44 are showing year-over-year declines in April, 10 fewer than in March.*March data was revised. Revisions with public records data are standard, and to ensure accuracy, CoreLogic incorporates the newly released public data to provide updated results.Table 1: April HPI for the Countryâ s Largest CBSAs by Population (Ranked by Single Family Including Distressed)Table 2: April State and National Ranking Based on HPI Including DistressedMethodologyThe CoreLogic HPI incorporates more than 30 years’worth of repeat sales transactions, representing more than 65 million observations sourced from CoreLogic industry-leading property information and its securities and servicing databases. The CoreLogic HPI provides a multi-tier market evaluation based on price, time between sales, property type, loan type (conforming vs. nonconforming) and distressed sales. The CoreLogic HPI is a repeat-sales index that tracks increases and decreases in sales prices for the same homes over time, including single-familyattached and single-family detached homes, which provides a more accurate “constant-quality” view of pricing trends than basing analysis on all home sales. The CoreLogic HPI provides the most comprehensive set of monthly home price indices available covering 6,700 ZIP codes (58 percent of total U.S. population), 619 Core Based Statistical Areas (86 percent of total U.S. population) and 1,166 counties (84 percent of total U.S. population) located in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.About CoreLogicCoreLogic (NYSE: CLGX) is a leading provider of consumer, financial and property information, analytics and services to business and government. The Company combines public, contributory and proprietary data to develop predictive decision analytics and provide business services that bring dynamic insight and transparency to the markets it serves. CoreLogic has built one of the largest and most comprehensive U.S. real estate, mortgage application, fraud, and loan performance databases and is a recognized leading provider of mortgage and automotive credit reporting, property tax, valuation, flood determination, and geospatial analytics and services. More than one million users rely on CoreLogic to assess risk, support underwriting, investment and marketing decisions, prevent fraud, and improve business performance in their daily operations. The Company, headquartered in Santa Ana, Calif., has approximately 5,000 employees globally. For more information visit www.corelogic.com(link is external).Source: CoreLogicThe data provided is for use only by the primary recipient or the primary recipient’s publication or broadcast. This data may not be re-sold, republished or licensed to any other source, including publications and sources owned by the primary recipient’s parent company without prior written permission from CoreLogic. Any CoreLogic data used for publication or broadcast, in whole or in part, must be sourced as coming from CoreLogic, a data and analytics company. For use with broadcast or web content, the citation must directly accompany first reference of the data. If the data is illustrated with maps, charts, graphs or other visual elements, the CoreLogic logo must be included on screen or web site. For questions, analysis or interpretation of the data, contact Lori Guyton at [email protected](link sends e-mail) or Bill Campbell [email protected](link sends e-mail). Data provided may not be modified without the prior written permission of CoreLogic. Do not use the data in any unlawful manner. This data is compiled from public records, contributory databases and proprietary analytics, and its accuracy is dependent upon these sources.SANTA ANA, Calif., June 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ â  CORELOGIClast_img read more

June revenue results down in Vermont, fiscal year results up $7 million

first_imgA flurry of tax refunds sent June tax revenue results down for the month, but the state will still finish the fiscal year more than $7 million ahead of expectations and are well over the actual numbers reported last year (see tables below).Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding released the Preliminary June 2012 General Fund (GF) revenue results on Friday. June is the final month of fiscal year (FY) 2012; changes to these results are possible as the fiscal year close-out process is finalized. Preliminary General Fund revenues totaled $110.68 million for June 2012, and were -$2.82 million or -2.49% below the $113.50 million consensus revenue forecast for the month. Year end preliminary General Fund revenues were $1.196 billion, and +$7.19 million or +0.60% above the full year target of $1.189 billion for FY 2012. The FY 2012 results through June also exceed the same period for the prior fiscal year (FY 2011) by 2.47%. ‘Overall, we are pleased to have exceeded the full fiscal year target by +$7.19 million or +0.60% and the prior fiscal year’s revenues by +$28.84 million or 2.47%, despite experiencing some slippage for the month of June. Our three major revenue components performed quite nicely compared to last year; personal income tax receipts were up 7.9%, sales & use tax receipts were up 5.0%, and meals & rooms tax receipts were up 3.5%. The unanticipated revenues will be used to fund reconstruction of the Waterbury State Office Complex and other State facility needs resulting from Tropical Storm Irene,’explained Secretary Spaulding. Spaulding continued, ‘It is worth noting that despite the moderate growth in revenues over the last two years, we finished the fiscal year ending June 30 just about level with where we were four fiscal years earlier. The General Fund revenue ‘high water’mark of $1.199 billion was achieved for FY 2008, prior to the economic recession, compared to $1.196 billion for the year just closed.’Current targets reflect the Fiscal Year 2012 Consensus Revenue Forecast adopted by the Emergency Board at their January 18, 2012 meeting. Statutorily, the State is required to revise the Consensus Revenue Forecast two times per year, in January and July; the Emergency Board may schedule interim revisions if deemed necessary. The next Emergency Board meeting is scheduled for Friday July 20, 2012. Net Personal Income Tax (PI) receipts are the largest single state revenue source providing approximately 50% of total GF revenue. PI Tax receipts are reported Net-of-Personal Income Tax refunds. Net Personal Income Tax is comprised of PI Withholding Tax, PI Estimated Payments, PI Refunds, PI Paid, and PI Other. Net PI receipts for June were $59.43 million, -$2.81 million or -4.52% behind the monthly target of $62.24 million. The year to date Net PI Tax receipts of $597.01 million were +0.40% above the cumulative target of $594.60 million. The cumulative results are +7.91% ahead of the same period for the prior fiscal year (FY 2011). Secretary Spaulding commented, ‘We experienced greater refund activity both in the month of June (-$4.37 million) and for the full year (-$14.54 million) than anticipated in the target. These results were offset by favorable results for the year in PI Paid Returns, PI Estimates and PI Other (+$16.56 million, +3.64 million and +$5.48 million respectively). As was expected, PI Withholdings ended the year unfavorable to target by $8.73 million.’ Corporate Income Taxes are also reported net of refunds. Net Corporate Income Tax receipts for June of $14.31 million resulted in recovering most of the previous negative results in this category. Year to date Corporate receipts were $85.92 million, +$8.62 million or +11.16% ahead of target. Spaulding explained, ‘As projected last month, Net Corporate Income Tax receipts remained above target through the final month of this fiscal year (FY 2012). Unfortunately, as compared to the same period for the prior year (FY 2011), Net Corporate Income Taxes fell short by -4.16%.’ Consumption tax results for June exceeded target: Sales & Use Tax receipts of $18.19 million were above target by +$0.35 million (+1.99%); and Rooms & Meals Tax receipts of $9.31 million exceeded target by +$0.18 million (+2.02%). Year to date, Sales & Use Tax receipts of $227.89 million exceed target by +0.60%, while Rooms & Meals Tax receipts of $126.91 million were +0.17% ahead of the target for the current fiscal year (FY 2012). Compared to the results for the same period of the prior fiscal year (FY 2011), cumulative June consumption taxes (Sales & Use; Meals & Rooms) exceeded the prior year results by +4.98% and +3.49% respectively. Spaulding commented, ‘It is heartening to see the consumption taxes exceeding both the current year target and the prior year, despite the relatively snowless winter and slow economic recovery. We will see if this trend is projected to continue when the State’s two economists present their consensus revenue recommendations on July 12th.’ The remaining non-major tax components include Insurance, Inheritance & Estate Tax, Real Property Transfer Tax, and ‘Other’(which includes: Bank Franchise Tax, Telephone Tax, Liquor Tax, Beverage Tax, Fees, and Other Taxes). The results for the remaining non-major categories for June were as follows: Insurance Tax, $0.29 million (-77.41%); Inheritance & Estate Tax, $0.04 million (-97.05%); Property Transfer Tax, $0.90 million (+3.78%); and ‘Other’, $8.20 million (+6.33%). The year to date June results for the remaining non-major categories were: Insurance Tax, $56.35 million (+0.62%); Inheritance & Estate Tax, $13.33 million (-31.62%); Property Transfer Tax, $7.86 million (-5.89%); and ‘Other’, $81.28 million (+1.11%). Cumulatively, the year to date non-major components total of $158.83 million through June 2012, is -11.84% below the receipts for the same period of FY 2011 (reduced for a one-time settlement received in August of FY 2011). General Fund By Major Element (In Millions)*Fiscal Tax ComponentJune TargetJune Revenue$ Change% ChangeFY TargetFY Revenue$ Change% ChangePersonal Income62.2459.43-2.81-4.52%594.60597.012.410.40%Sales & Use17.8418.190.351.99%226.53227.891.360.60%Corporate12.9714.311.3510.39%77.3085.928.6211.16%Meals & Room9.139.310.182.02%126.70126.910.210.17%Insurance Premium1.280.29-0.99-77.41%56.0056.350.350.62%Inheritance & Estate1.470.04-1.43-97.05%19.5013.33-6.17-31.62%Real Prop. Transfer0.870.900.033.78%8.357.86-0.49-5.89%Other7.728.200.496.33%80.3981.280.901.11%Total113.50110.68-2.82-2.49%1189.371196.567.190.60%Transportation FundSecretary Spaulding also released the non-dedicated Transportation Fund Revenue for June. Total non-dedicated Transportation Fund receipts of $23.14 million for the month fell below target by -$2.43 million (-9.52%), compared to the monthly target of $25.57 million. The cumulative June Transportation Fund receipts of $221.81 million are below the $225.17 million target by -1.49%. Year to date June FY 2012 non-dedicated Transportation Funds exceed the prior year (FY 2011) results by 1.93% for the same period.Four (4) of the five (5) individual tax components of the Transportation Fund revenue were below target for the month as well as the full year, including Gasoline Tax, Motor Vehicle Purchase & Use Tax, Motor Vehicle Fees, and Other. Only the Diesel Tax component was essentially on target for the month and exceeded the full year target. Individual Transportation Fund revenue components for June were: Gasoline Tax, $5.05 million or -6.22% below target; Diesel Tax, $1.98 million or -0.07% above target; Motor Vehicle Purchase & Use Tax, $6.31 million or -15.48% below target; Motor Vehicle Fees, $8.16 million or -5.15% below target; and Other Fees, $1.63 million or -23.39% below the monthly target. Year to date results for the individual Transportation Fund revenue components for June were: Gasoline Tax, $59.28 million or -2.33% short of target; Diesel Tax, $16.00 million or +1.92% above target; Motor Vehicle Purchase & Use Tax, $54.60 million or -1.20% below target; Motor Vehicle Fees, $73.64 million or -1.02% behind target; and Other Fees, $18.28 million or -4.30% short of the target.Spaulding said, ‘Cumulative Transportation Fund receipts for June were disappointing, resulting in below target performance for the full FY 2012. Hopefully, the reduced gas prices at the pump, for the summer vacation season, will spur better results going into FY 2013.’The Secretary also reported on the results for the Transportation Infrastructure Bond Fund (’TIB’). TIB Fund Gas receipts for June were $1.81 million or +3.84% above target; year to date TIB Gas receipts were $20.92 million or +1.54% ahead of target. TIB Fund Diesel receipts for the month were $0.24 million or -21.07% behind the monthly target; year to date TIB Diesel receipts were $1.92 million or -8.55% short of target. The TIB Fund receipts are noted on the following table:Transportation Fund By Major Element (In Millions)*Fiscal Tax ComponentJune TargetJune Revenue$ Change% ChangeFY TargetFY Revenue$ Change% ChangeGasoline5.385.05-0.33-6.22%60.7059.28-1.42-2.33%Diesel Fuel1.981.980.00-0.07%15.7016.000.301.92%MV Purchase & Use7.476.31-1.16-15.48%55.2754.60-0.66-1.20%Motor Vehicle Fees8.608.16-0.44-5.15%74.4073.64-0.76-1.02%Other2.131.63-0.50-23.39%19.1018.28-0.82-4.30%Total25.5723.14-2.43-9.52%225.17221.81-3.36-1.49%Education FundToday, Secretary Spaulding released the ‘non-Property Tax’Education Fund revenues (which constitute approximately 12% of the total Education Fund sources). The non-Property Tax Education Fund receipts for June totaled $13.54 million, or -$1.43 million (-9.54%) below the $14.96 million target for the month. Year to date, non-Property Tax Education Fund receipts were $162.05 million, or -0.16% short of the year to date target. An as yet undetermined upward revision to the Lottery Transfer is expected after the final reconciliation of fiscal year close-out. This adjustment may well bring the Education Fund results up to or slightly in excess of the full year target.The preliminary individual Education Fund revenue component results for June were: Sales & Use Tax, $9.09 million, or +1.99% above target; Motor Vehicle Purchase & Use Tax, $3.16 million or -15.48%; Lottery Transfer, $1.29 million or -43.51%; Education Fund Interest for June was less than $.02 million for the month against a target of -$01 million. Year to date receipts by component were: Sales & Use Tax, $113.94 million, or +0.60% above target; Motor Vehicle Purchase & Use Tax, $27.30 million or -1.20%; Lottery Transfer, $20.76 million or -2.54% behind target; year to date Education Fund Interest for June was under $0.10 million against a target of approximately $0.04 million. The non-property tax current fiscal year to date Education Fund receipts are 4.08% ahead of the FY 2011 results for the same period.ConclusionSecretary Spaulding concluded, ‘June results were less than we had expected. Nevertheless, we are pleased that the preliminary General Fund results for fiscal year 2012 came in above target for the year and continue to grow. We look forward to the Emergency Board’s adoption of revised revenue forecasts for Fiscal Year 2013 and beyond, at their meeting on July 20, 2012.’Note: All results are preliminary and subject to change as the fiscal year end closing process proceeds. Comparative Statement of RevenuesGeneral Fund As of June 30, 2012Preliminary                                                                                      Total to DateTotal to Date                                                                                            Last YearThis Year % of ChangeTaxes Personal Income$553,265,451$597,006,6507.91%Sales & Use217,082,665227,892,4144.98%Corporate89,652,88885,923,624-4.16%Meals & Room122,628,019126,912,5523.49%Liquor & Wine15,350,16016,428,9157.03%Insurance Premium54,991,37056,345,8552.46%Telephone Gross Receipts223,440208,063-6.88%Telephone Property11,136,1419,415,453-15.45%Beverage5,786,5595,974,6323.25%Electric Generating2,921,3982,930,1570.30%Inheritance & Estate35,879,82813,334,885-62.83%Real Property Transfer8,377,5227,859,404-6.18%Bank Franchise15,423,98510,658,134-30.90%All Other Taxes3,719,0891,235,985-66.77%Total Taxes1,136,438,5151,162,126,7232.26%Other Revenues Business Licenses2,964,8183,032,4232.28%Fees20,464,58120,420,436-0.22%Services1,131,9062,329,880105.84%Fines, Forfeits & Penalties5,721,2267,361,70928.67%Interest, Prem255,257395,07254.77%Special Assessments000.00%All Other Revenues746,786894,08219.72%Total Other Revenues31,284,57334,433,60210.07%Total General Fund1,167,723,0891,196,560,3252.47%Note: Revenue Estimates are fiscal year total estimates. Prepared by Department of Finance & Management Date: July 10, 2012last_img read more

Shumlin announces plan for homeowners ineligible for FEMA buyouts

first_imgGovernor Peter Shumlin announced today that the state will use CDBG Disaster Recovery funds to cover 75 percent of the cost to towns of buying out homes that have been found to be ineligible for the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.  Additionally, the Stratton Foundation will make up to $80,000 available for the four homes in Jamaica, Vermont, that were lost to Tropical Storm Irene.  The state has been working with homeowners on a case-by-case basis to find an alternative to FEMA funding, with the assistance of the Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission.   The Vermont Disaster Relief Fund also welcomes applications from the Jamaica homeowners for any remaining unmet needs.   ‘ These Vermonters have been in limbo for too long and the news that their buyouts would not be approved by FEMA was another setback,’ said Governor Shumlin.  ‘ We are making these funds available to allow the Town of Jamaica to buy out the properties and the homeowners to move forward with their lives.’  ‘ The Stratton Foundation is thrilled the state has found the funds that, when added to the Foundation’s contribution, will help our four families in Jamaica regain their financial footing,’ said Stratton Foundation Chairman Sky Foulkes.  ‘ It has been a long haul for these folks and we hope they can continue on their path to recovery in the wake of their challenges. Thanks to the generosity of our community and the Foundation’s commitment to those affected by Irene, we are happy to see the close of our mission is in sight,” he added.   The CDBG-DR funds come from a $21. 6 million allocation from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to the Vermont Department of Economic, Housing and Community Development.  The funding results from a provision Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Rep. Peter Welch championed in last year’ s federal budget bill.   Determined to help those who lost the most to Irene and reduce the risk of future damages, the state committed CDBG-DR funds to cover the 25 percent local match for buyouts through FEMA’ s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.  While the vast majority of home buyouts have been approved by FEMA, a few have been determined to be ineligible.  The full cost of these buyouts exceeds the CDBG-DR funding set aside for this purpose.  The Department will still cover 25 percent of approved buyouts submitted in Rounds 1 through 3 and today is committing to provide towns and homeowners with ineligible properties with 75 percent of the project costs.   Towns and homeowners can agree to the buyouts at less than 100 percent of the cost that would have been covered by FEMA. ‘ We are pleased to offer this additional assistance to towns and homeowners,’ said Commerce and Community Development Secretary Lawrence Miller.   ‘ The Agency is also grateful for the work and partnership of Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission in making the CDBG-DR funds available for purchasing destroyed properties, removing homes from harm’ s way, and allowing communities and individuals move on with their recovery.’  Governor’s office. 3.13.2013last_img read more

FairPoint appeals loss to union for second time

first_imgby Hilary Niles September 5, 2013 vtdigger.org FairPoint Communications and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have 11 months to hash out their next contract, but the parties remain at odds and in court.The disagreement dates back to late 2010, when FairPoint hired a non-union firm in New York. The electrical union cried foul, saying the collective bargaining agreement ‘ which the parties had negotiated when FairPoint took over Verizon’s northern New England landlines in 2008 ‘ prohibited such a contract.An arbitration panel agreed in March 2012. So did a Maine district court judge in February 2013, after considering FairPoint’s appeal of the arbitration decision. The North Carolina-based telecommunications company has now filed a second appeal.The point of dispute is FairPoint’s hiring of a non-union Canadian firm in 2009 and subsequent transferral of that contract to a non-union New York firm the following year. Similar work already was underway at the company’s Portland, Maine, location. But FairPoint chose not to direct the work the union’s way.Temporary non-union contracting would have been permissible, the arbitration panel determined, but FairPoint’s decisions amounted to a permanent transfer of union jobs to non-union workers.‘The results of the arbitration are final,’ said Mike Spillane, business manager of IBEW Local 2326 in Vermont. The union and its counterparts in Maine and New Hampshire collectively represent about 1,700 FairPoint employees, all of whom work under the same collective bargaining agreement at the heart of the appeal. ‘They lose a case in arbitration, but they still refuse to abide by the arbitration ruling,’ Spillane said. ‘Then they got the absolute set of you know what to say, ‘We’re going to take this to court.’‘FairPoint officials declined to comment on the case, citing company protocols to not discuss pending litigation. FairPoint’s rationale for appeal, as represented in court documents, is multi-faceted and entails, in large part, semantics.The arbitration panel mistakenly conflated ‘jobs’ with ‘work’ in interpreting the collective bargaining agreement, FairPoint claimed, according to U.S. District Court Judge George Z. Singal. ‘Specifically, FairPoint states that ‘jobs’ and ‘work’ are analytically distinct and yet the Arbitration Panel substituted ‘work’ for ‘jobs’ in the Transfer of Jobs provision,’ Singal’s discussion reads. ‘Here again FairPoint is merely urging a different interpretation of the contract language to the facts of this case,’ he wrote.The company also argued the jobs (or work, as the case may be) that went to the non-union firms were not ‘transferred’ from the union because they were new positions created after the collective bargaining agreement had been reached. ‘This straightforward argument has a great deal of surface appeal,’ the arbitration panel wrote in 2012, ‘but we are convinced that it does not account for what actually happened here.’Singal agreed. ‘The [Union] may be bigger than it was before â ¦ but it is certainly smaller than it would have been had it retained all of the â ¦ work,’ he wrote.Although IBEW has claimed victory in arbitration and the first appeal, Singal did not grant the union’s request to be compensated for attorney’s fees and court costs.Legal fees are not all of Spillane’s worries, however. He’s looking ahead to the next collective bargaining agreement, and he doesn’t see an eager partner in the company that’s taking the union to court a second time.‘As we’re getting ready for our contract negotiations coming up next July, FairPoint has been really bad with the union,’ he said. The union has asked the company to start bargaining now, Spillane said, to ensure smooth workflow for customers and to help both parties plan ahead based on realistic expectations for next year.Company spokesperson Sabina Haskell said FairPoint leaders are in frequent contact with the union about various issues, but it’s unclear when contract negotiations might start.‘We obviously plan on having good constructive conversations with the union leadership, and those will happen when the time is right,’ Haskell said, underscoring the pressure FairPoint faces within an increasingly competitive industry. ‘We certainly want to be positioned for success in the future and we certainly are proud of our employees and the contributions they make to our company and to the customers,’ she said. ‘To to that end I think the conversations will be very constructive.’It’s not an optimism shared by Spillane.‘The company just doesn’t even want to hear from us,’ he said, ‘which is a shame because this is our company. We’re all invested in our company, we’re certainly invested in our pensions, and the last thing you want to see is a company go belly-up.’ Spillane said he anticipates the company will drive a hard bargain with the union next year in order to deliver profits to investors.‘The company’s basically giving us the middle finger,’ he said.And though the parties will continue to meet in court, Spillane said the union’s goal is to meet at the bargaining table.last_img read more

Shumlin: Deadline for health Exchange enrollment is December 23, urges Vermonters to sign up now

first_imgGovernor Peter Shumlin today urged Vermont individuals and families to sign up now for health care through Vermont Health Connect (VHC) insurance Exchange as the December 23 deadline for January coverage approaches. The VHC website is working well for individuals and families, and the pace of sign-ups has spiked this week. Over 5,000 Vermonters have signed up through VHC since Monday, representing a third of the total since October 1.’ The governor said that 45,000 Vermonters, or about two-thirds of those affected by federally-mandated health care reforms come January, are already enrolled in a VHC plan for 2014. ‘We’ve taken steps to ensure every affected Vermonter has a path to coverage in January and beyond,’ Shumlin said. ‘It’s promising to see two-thirds of those Vermonters enrolled in Vermont Health Connect plans, and a big uptick in the number of Vermonters signing up this week. We still have work to do, but we’re moving in the right direction.’ ‘ The deadline to enroll in a plan through VHC is’ December 23, with payment of January premiums due no later than January 7. Many individuals and families will qualify for financial assistance through VHC. The Governor urged them to log on today to see their coverage options in advance of the Dec. 23 deadline.’ Shumlin was joined today by Galen Cheney of Middlesex, who worked with Navigator Peter Sterling to sign up for coverage through VHC. Cheney signed up through the VHC website in early December and has already received an invoice for January coverage, making her one of the over 15,000 Vermonters who has so far signed up for January coverage through VHC.’ About 65,000 Vermonters are affected by the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) come January, with two-thirds of those already enrolled in a VHC plan for January. Many of the remaining can enroll immediately, although safeguards are in place to ensure Vermonters who don’t sign up, or who work for small businesses and are waiting on payment functions to launch, have their current coverage extended for up to three months. The attached chart details how affected Vermonters will access coverage in January and beyond:’ ‘·’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘  About 29,200 Vermonters are covered by an employer that will be directly enrolled in VHC plans through Blue Cross or MVP.‘·’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘  About 18,000 Vermonters are currently on Catamount or VHAP and can sign up for VHC coverage today, and some have already done so. If these individuals don’t do so by Dec. 23 for January coverage, they will have their current coverage automatically extended for up to three months.‘·’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘  About 7,200 Vermonters are enrolled in 2013 small business health plans as sole proprietors or businesses with only one covered employee. Many of these Vermonters will now be considered individuals under the federal ACA, meaning they will purchase insurance through VHC on the individual market. With that portion of VHC already operational, these Vermonters can immediately log on, sign up and receive an invoice for January coverage. If they do not, however, their current plans will be automatically extended for up to three months to ensure no lapse in coverage.‘·’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘  About 5,800 Vermonters will have their current coverage extended for up to three months because they are covered by an employer that chose that option when it was announced by the Governor in early November.‘·’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘  About 3,500 Vermonters will have their current coverage extended for up to three months until the website payment functions for their group are operational on VHC.‘·’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘  About 800 Vermonters will go through VHC as individuals for January coverage because their employer decided to no longer offer coverage in 2014. VHC is operational for these individuals. They can log on, select a plan and receive an invoice today for coverage beginning Jan. 1.Another attached chart shows the quickening pace of sign-ups through Vermont Health Connect in the past weeks.last_img read more

Shumlin promises to close $71 million budget gap without broad-based tax hike

first_imgby Tim McQuiston Vermont Business Magazine Governor Peter Shumlin offered his Vermont Budget Address this afternoon with promises not to raise broad-based taxes, but still meet a $71 million budget gap. While his administration is suggesting that some $14 million can be raised through a’ 0.8 percent tax on every private health insurance claim’ ‘ and another $30 million through one-time sources, which were not named, the exact revenue structure was not specified.While this address lacked the packed gallery and standing ovations of his now-famous “opiate” speech from his State of the State address last week, he did receive his loudest applause when he emphasized that he will bring single-payer health care to Vermont in 2017. He used the trouble with the Vermont Health Connect rollout to emphasize the need for single-payer.Shumlin said: “Al Gobeille (chairman) and the Green Mountain Health Care Board are working with our hospitals, doctors and providers, consumers and our business community to control costs and reform our payment system. This is a partnership that is, I believe, without precedent in any other state. They are moving us to a more rational system that reimburses for quality of care, not quantity. I believe that their success, combined with a fair way to pay for it, will be a recipe for job growth unrivalled in the country.”Among other points, Shumlin said he’s dedicated to increasing Transportation spending $33 million to its highest levels in the state’s history, which if it comes to fruition would be the second consecutive year it would set a record.Budget AddressGovernor Peter ShumlinJanuary 15, 2014Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, members of the General Assembly, distinguished guests, and fellow Vermonters:Good things are happening all across our great state. Vermont’s unemployment rate is the fifth lowest in America, and the lowest this side of the Mississippi. Jobs have rebounded from the depths of the recession, with over 11,000 new jobs created since I first spoke to you three years ago. In the last year alone, we have seen 2,000 jobs created in our manufacturing and professional services sectors, with our wages rising faster than inflation.This broad-based growth has kept Vermont’s economy diverse, as we draw world-wide attention for our award-winning products: cheeses, artisan furniture, craft beers and spirits, and many others born from the creativity of our hands and the abundance of our lands. Our downtowns are on the comeback as vibrant centers for jobs, retail, and residential life, from Brattleboro to Barre, Newport to St. Albans and Rutland. Visitors from around the globe continue to come to Vermont to ski and hike our mountains, stay at our inns and resorts, and enjoy our state’s beautiful outdoors.2Today, I am honored to present my fourth budget, one that is balanced and fiscally restrained. It invests in areas critical to our most vulnerable and to our future job growth, while rejecting broad-based tax increases on hardworking Vermonters. It keeps our reserves full, and our pension contributions funded at the recommended levels. It matches Montpelier’s appetite for spending with Vermonters’ ability to pay.Once again it will require discipline to meet the $71 million gap between our projected revenues and spending. The President and Congress, and our great federal delegation, helped all states through one of the worst downturns in American history by sending hundreds of billions of dollars in stimulus. That funding is now over. Instead Washington is now cutting back on key programs that help our most vulnerable. But the good news is that as we have been creating jobs, our General Fund revenues have been recovering, up $178 million in the past three years and projected to be more than $250 million after this next fiscal year.So our challenge in balancing the budget is not to eviscerate worthwhile programs serving Vermonters, but instead to curb the rate of growth and bring our programs back in line with our revenue. Over the past five budgets, we have relied on between $44 and $55 million in one-time funds to balance our books, a trend we know we must reduce. Today, I present you with a budget that closes our gap by relying on only $30 million in one-time funds, about half as much as last year. Accounting3for replacement of one-time funds in this year’s budget, my spending proposal for Fiscal Year 15 will rise by 3.56%.Every spending proposal I have pursued as Governor has been designed to promote economic development and prosperity for all Vermonters. This budget is no different. It keeps our promise to invest in our infrastructure and in our people, and it relies on a unified, coordinated strategy, targeting every sector of our economy and every one of our communities.To accomplish our vision, we are continuing to focus on the big things that will make the difference: Help families raise healthy children; Create the best education system in America, to assure that more of our kids move beyond high school into good paying, high-skilled jobs; Support our businesses, our downtowns, and our job growth; Provide access to quality, affordable health care; and Protect our environment and quality of life that is, I believe, unrivaled in America.***Education delivers economic opportunity.I’m very proud to have Rebecca Holcombe, an extraordinary educator and policy leader, as our new Secretary of Education. Welcome Rebecca!4Vermont continues to lead the country in our educational enterprise. More than 90% of our kids are graduating from high school, the highest rate in the nation. Thanks to your help last year, we now can finally move more of our low income kids beyond high school through flexible, individualized education, and opportunities for dual enrollment and early college. Better education and training beyond high school means more of our kids will grow up ready for the high-skilled, well-paying jobs that our companies are creating. We will make even greater progress if you pass the Vermont Strong Scholars proposal I brought you last year, giving a full year of free tuition to those who choose to enter STEM jobs in Vermont after attending one of the Vermont State Colleges or UVM.Even in these tough budget times, I propose to continue our investment in higher education by including an additional 2% increase beginning in January 2015 for our state colleges and university, the second consecutive annual increase after five years of level funding.Better educating our youngest will give us the greatest return on our investment. We know that kids with great family support and high-quality early education do better in school, earn higher wages as adults, and are less likely to go on welfare or go to jail.Thanks to our success in obtaining the $37 million Race to the Top grant, we now have a tremendous opportunity to build the foundation for this healthy start, especially for children born into poverty. As I said last week, if you send me the universal5pre-kindergarten bill that passed the House last spring, we will help give all of our kids a strong start.While I am incredibly proud of the progress we have made together on education, I am not at all happy that Vermonters will once again bear an increase of five to seven cents in the statewide property tax rate next year based upon projections for local school spending.There have been reports of significant school budget increases proposed in communities large and small across our state. We all understand the tremendous value we receive from investing in our kids. None of us, however, can afford higher spending and higher property taxes year after year, while our overall student population continues to decline. I urge Vermonters at town meetings across our state this year to carefully scrutinize school budgets that increase per pupil spending and grow faster than our incomes. Look hard to see if you can achieve savings for better outcomes at a lower cost. Remember, you have the power to determine your school budgets, but you can’t make a difference if you don’t participate.To do our part here in Montpelier, this past year we increased the portion of the Sales and Use Tax going to the Education Fund, adding $9.5 million to help keep property taxes lower. My budget proposal fully funds the required transfer to the Education Fund in Fiscal Year 2015.I also thank you for hosting with me yesterday a forum of national and local experts to address rising property taxes. We all know that there are no easy answers, and that the state6funding system can burden local districts that are trying to do the right thing. I pledge to work with you this year to look at the facts and explore any options that would improve our school funding system.This year we must also address one of our most difficult long-term fiscal problems by fixing how we pay for health insurance for retired teachers. The problem is that, right now, we really are not paying for it, because the state never established an explicit funding source for this obligation. For decades, the annual costs of retired teacher health insurance premiums have been taken right out of the state teacher pension fund itself. Treasurer Pearce, Speaker Smith, Pro Tem Campbell, our teachers, and many others have been working together with us on a phased in, permanent solution. I have proposed $2.5 million in this budget to help get this done, working in partnership to find a responsible fix this session.***A few weeks ago, I announced my support for increased funding for initiatives designed to help move Vermonters out of poverty. In these challenging times, as the federal government continues to make shortsighted cuts that hurt our most vulnerable, our state must do what we can to blunt the damage by allocating our limited resources wisely.That is why my budget includes the following additional funds to support Vermonters in need: A doubling of the Vermont Rental Subsidy to $1,000,0007with $200,000 in additional funds for Family Supportive Housing, so we can help prevent homelessness in the first place; An increase of $300,000 for the Emergency Solutions Grant to help support homeless shelters, so that no one freezes in the streets; Increased support for children, including an $800,000 boost to childcare centers that provide the highest quality care and an additional $740,000 for families in need, so that more low income children can get a strong start; and An increase of $650,000 in funds for substance abuse and mental health treatment services for Reach Up recipients, to help remove barriers to work and economic independence.We have paid for these increases from growth in the Property Transfer Tax and our base general fund without program cuts, and I ask for your support.***I have also included in this budget new funding to support the ambitious drug abuse prevention and treatment agenda I laid out for you last week. This new funding will mean a 14% increase in prevention services and a nearly 40% increase in treatment services for those who are suffering from addiction.***We are also on track to create the best community-based mental health care system in the country. We are building8state-of-the-art bricks and mortar and expanding community-based care: securing 14 acute care beds in Brattleboro and 6 in Rutland; opening a 7-bed Secure Therapeutic Center in Middlesex; and expanding the number of our statewide intensive residential and crisis beds. Our new, therapeutic 25-bed hospital in Berlin will open this summer.None of us can expect success in delivering on our promise of a top-quality, healing mental health care system if we deny timely treatment to our most critically ill patients when they most need it. We are an outlier among the states, because it takes so long for treatment decisions to wind their way through our court system. While it is critical that we continue to protect patient rights, so too is it critical that we support those patients by ending the practice of leaving them for weeks and weeks without judicial resolution, delaying their recovery, placing caregivers and others at risk, and preventing us from serving other patients in need. I ask for your thoughtful guidance and help to fix this problem this session.***We will also continue to push for the best health care system in the nation. My budget proposes a 2% increase in Medicaid reimbursement rates starting in 2015 for our hardworking providers, to help reduce the cost-shift for those of us who pay private insurance.There has been a lot of focus on the troubled rollout of the federally-mandated exchange. I am very disappointed, and I take responsibility for it. But the difficult rollout of the9exchanges here and across America should remind us once again that we need ‘ we deserve ‘ and we can have ‘ simple, universal, affordable, comprehensive health care for all, where costs are sustainable and access to quality care is guaranteed because you are a Vermonter.Al Gobeille and the Green Mountain Health Care Board are working with our hospitals, doctors and providers, consumers and our business community to control costs and reform our payment system. This is a partnership that is, I believe, without precedent in any other state. They are moving us to a more rational system that reimburses for quality of care, not quantity. I believe that their success, combined with a fair way to pay for it, will be a recipe for job growth unrivalled in the country.***Coming out of one of the worst downturns in American history, Vermont’s economy continues to make great strides.Last year, we retired our Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund loan more than 15 months earlier than projected, saving taxpayers $700,000 in interest and employers nearly $12 million in federal payments, while providing relief to businesses that suffered layoffs due to Tropical Storm Irene.My proposed budget maintains our commitment to job growth by: Providing $3.3 million of support through the Next Generation Fund;10 Expanding the Registered Apprenticeship program and the On-the-Job-Training program to engage more Vermonters who are looking to ‘earn while you learn’; and Increasing funding by 9% to our hardworking Regional Development Corporations, the Vermont Employee Ownership Center, and the Small Business Development Center.In 2013, Vermont signed up its 1,000th captive insurance company, as we remain the leader in this global industry. Every year, the Vermont captive industry brings in more than $20 million to the state, supporting more than 1,400 well-paying jobs.This year, we have a chance to get a jump start on a new opportunity. The Legacy Insurance Management Act ‘ called LIMA ‘ creates specialized Vermont-based insurance companies that help other companies consolidate policies and redeploy capital. This could be the next success in our efforts to serve as a specialized global financial services destination. Patterned after Vermont’s captives sector, LIMA would add tax revenue and skilled, well-paying financial jobs. The House passed enabling legislation for this last year, and I hope to see it on my desk this session.My administration is also doing more to keep capital circulating in the state for the benefit of our local companies. By revising our state securities rules to allow far greater participation in local investment through the Vermont Small Business Offering Exemption, we can help Vermont companies raise the capital11they need right here in Vermont. To accomplish this, my Department of Financial Regulation will implement new rules doubling to $1 million the cap on these investments.Burlington was just named one of the top-ten emerging tech cities in the United States. Ever since IBM CEO Tom Watson had the wisdom to build a plant here in Vermont to stimulate our economy, Vermont has been a leader in technology. Back then, our jobless rate was 12% and there was no tech industry. Now, our tech industry is a significant multiplier in our economy. It has spawned a culture of innovation that has resulted in many booming businesses, millions of dollars of development and other capital investment, and a cascading effect of jobs within our communities.High tech jobs and high skilled engineering are helping Vermont companies become national and global leaders. Think: Dealer.com; My Web Grocer; Dynapower; BioTek; Chroma; Global Z; Logic Supply; GW Plastics; and Green Mountain Digital, to name just a few. What they make is vastly different, but what makes each company successful is the innovative thinking and skilled R&D that goes into their products. Jobs are the result: one engineering or development job can generate 20 more jobs in production and manufacturing.But Vermont must compete to recruit and retain these companies, and the stakes are higher than ever. That is why I have asked my team to work together with you this session on further ways to encourage and grow technology development12leading to even more manufacturing and job growth right here in Vermont.***We can’t grow jobs and enhance our quality of life in Vermont without maintaining a great transportation system.Early in my Administration, we made the tough call to end the state’s decades-long, $100 million Circ Highway saga. We launched a collaborative community process to examine and identify practical, achievable 21st century solutions to Chittenden County’s traffic congestion. We are now moving forward with wide consensus on new, common-sense projects to meet these needs.We have also paved more than 800 miles of road’25% of our system ‘ and moved the portion of state roads in ‘very poor condition’ from 34% in 2009 to just under 22% today; and have made similar progress rehabilitating more than 100 bridges.To continue this great progress, my budget proposal includes $686 million for transportation ‘ an increase of $33 million over last year. This is the biggest investment in our transportation system in our state’s history, and I ask for your support.This funding will allow us to: Repair or replace over 100 more bridges, and perform preventive maintenance on dozens more structures; Lay 300 more miles of pavement statewide;13 Expand car and vanpooling, and our bus network, which saw increased ridership again last year; and Support the establishment of a ‘Green Highway’ with electric vehicle charging stations connecting Montreal to Montpelier, and beyond in New England.On rail, we took a giant leap forward when we secured another federal grant of $9 million to fund the rebirth of the western corridor. Our rail team is moving projects faster than ever to connect downtown Burlington to Rutland to Bennington to Albany, and on to New York City. My budget proposes $19 million to extend these improvements, bringing us closer to our goal of growing jobs and economic opportunity by delivering better freight and passenger rail service up and down the western side of Vermont.We build commerce and a healthier, greener Vermont when we invest in our roads, bridges, rail, buses, airports, sidewalks and bike paths. We also help put Vermonters to work. Every $1 million of transportation spending creates and sustains about 48 jobs. Our $686 million dollar investment in transportation will represent thousands of jobs for Vermonters.Especially in a winter like this one, with our dedicated VTrans crews out there clearing the way to keep us safe, we appreciate how critical it is to support this effort. We must continue rebuilding our aging transportation network to make up for the maintenance and repair neglected for years so that we provide Vermonters with good roads and strong bridges once again.14***Our downtowns and village centers define the Vermont way of life. In these past three years, we have supported our downtowns to grow jobs, increase housing, and help our environment. We prioritized the redevelopment of the State Office Complex to help Waterbury recover from Irene; We are anchoring a state-of-the-art office building in Barre, bringing hundreds of jobs close to the restaurants and shops in the beautifully restored downtown; We provided funds for Vermont Technical College and Community College of Vermont to expand and locate campuses in the renovated Brooks Building, healing the burned-out heart of downtown Brattleboro; and We are working with leaders in St. Albans to allow Mylan, one of the area’s largest employers, to expand while sparking a redevelopment effort throughout the entire downtown.The results mean jobs, community pride, and economic growth, all across Vermont. We have seen the benefit all over the state ‘ in Hardwick, Newport, St. Johnsbury, Winooski, Vergennes and elsewhere. One reason this is happening is because of downtown tax credits. Every public dollar in this program brings about $15 of additional investment, and creates a chain-reaction of other economic improvements.15That is why I ask you to support my budget request of an additional $500,000 in downtown tax credits, leveraging $7.5 million more in downtown improvements statewide.***My budget also continues our strong commitment to affordable housing and conservation of our working lands by including a 9% increase for the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. We continue our support for Farm to Plate and the Vermont Ag Development Program, which have helped fuel the increase of more than 1000 jobs in the local food economy since I took office. We also recognize the tremendous scenic, cultural, environmental, recreational, and economic impact of our Working Lands initiative by for the first time including its funding in the base budget, with a 5% increase.***Our greenhouse gas emissions are now back to a level not seen since 1990, even though our economy has grown significantly since that time. Our renewable energy, conservation, and efficiency policies have helped get us there. Vermont’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a model for our country, has generated more than $3 million for conservation and efficiency this year alone.This is great progress, but we must do more for our environment. Despite significant investments and well-intentioned initiatives over the years, we are now facing up to the long-standing reality that our lakes and streams have not16improved. Under the leadership of Commissioner David Mears, we are working with the EPA and our communities to have a conversation about common-sense solutions to the water quality problems that have for too long plagued our state and fouled our lakes. My recommended capital budget adjustment includes an additional $1.1 million to support improving Vermont’s water quality.***We are aggressively moving to green, clean, local renewable energy, and the job growth that comes with it.Vermont’s difficult debate about the continued operation of Vermont Yankee is coming to a close. We now can focus on our need to embrace a decommissioning process that best serves Vermonters, and to help those affected by the loss of jobs where I was born, grew up, ran a business, and raised my daughters, in Windham County. They now need our help. We pressed Entergy for timely decommissioning and significant support for jobs and economic transition that will bring more than $20 million for Windham County, clean energy development, and the state. It is now time to move past years of disputes with Entergy and strive to find common agreement wherever possible going forward, to get this right for Vermont.Some people have suggested that our investments in renewable energy are costly, and claim that we should stop our progress. These voices are misinformed. Building renewables isn’t just good for our planet and for jobs; it is also good for our wallets:17 Our strategy of building local, renewable energy projects while maximizing our energy efficiency is working, already helping us defer nearly $400 million of transmission costs which our region’s ratepayers would otherwise have to pay; Our local renewable energy companies are doing their part to lower prices, bringing Standard Offer projects in at half the cost previously projected thanks to last year’s move to a new market-based program; We expanded renewable energy and efficiency investments by expanding VEDA’s Vermont Sustainable Energy Loan Fund; and We are saving taxpayers’ money by installing solar on many of our state buildings.The amount of solar in Vermont has more than tripled since I became Governor, and more projects are coming online every month. When we see solar panels on rooftops in our neighborhoods or on our fields, we are often looking at projects made possible by our net metering program. I am committed to continuing and expanding net metering this session, by substantially raising the percentage of peak load that can be supplied by these projects, while ensuring that they remain affordable. With the leadership of people like Chairman Tony Klein and a wide array of our utilities and businesses, I know we can get this right.18***To secure our economic success and our children’s future in the Green Mountain state we are compelled to keep climbing with every initiative we pursue, never satisfied that our work is done. I know we will continue our progress this session, with the help of your guidance and good judgment. While we will have our differences at times about policy choices, we share ‘ along with the citizens we all represent ‘ a common set of values: community, hard work, and fairness. These common values guide us and they will continue to ensure our success. I look forward to a productive session serving the Vermont we all love. Thank you.‘ ‘ ‘last_img read more

Jane Lindholm to speak at Lyndon State College’s 102nd commencement May 18

first_imgJane Lindholm will deliver the address at Lyndon State College’s 102nd commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 18, 2014. Lindholm, host of the award-winning Vermont Public Radio program Vermont Edition, has been recognized with regional and national awards for interviewing and use of sound. She was named one of Vermont’s “Rising Stars” by Vermont Business Magazine in 2013 and won a 2014 regional Edward R Murrow Award for “State of Mind,” an audio documentary piece on Vermont’s mental health care system.Lindholm holds a degree in Anthropology from Harvard University and has worked as writer and editor for Let’s Go Travel Guides. An avid photographer, she has had her photojournalism picked up by the BBC World Service. Lindholm lives in Monkton with her husband, son, and Ollie, “quite possibly the most spoiled and doted upon dog in the history of North America.”She will be joined on the dais by student speaker Nichole Slabinski ’14. Graduating seniors Jacob Machell, Ry MacDonald and Colin Murphy of Suncooked, will provide music and Kaleigh Clowery ‘14 will sing the national anthem. The Catamount Pipe Band will play both processional and recessional; Ian MacDonald ’14 is the pipe major.LSC President Joe Bertolino will present Joseph D’Aleo with an honorary doctoral degree for his accomplishments as an educator and as a pioneer in the field of broadcast meteorology. While at Lyndon, D’Aleo helped establish an Air Force ROTC program, a campus weather service, a weather forecast company (known today as North Winds Weather), and the Northeast Storm Conference—which held its 39th annual conference in March. After leaving Lyndon in 1980, D’Aleo’s expertise in broadcast meteorology led him to a partnership with John Coleman. He and Coleman turned Coleman’s vision for a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week television station dedicated to weather forecasting the into The Weather Channel.This is the second honorary degree awarded by LSC since Poet Galway Kinnell was recognized in 2002; in 2013, Dr. Ray Griffin of Barton, Vermont, was made an honorary member of the Class of 1942.Bertolino will also present Vermont State Colleges Board Chair Gary W. Moore with the 2014 LSC Presidential Medal of Distinction. The award, created in 2013, honors an individual or organization who has contributed significantly to both Lyndon State College and the NEK community. This year, Moore also received New England Board of Higher Education’s (NEBHE) 2014 David C. Knapp Award for Trusteeship and was honored with a Vermont resolution for his “accomplishments as an educator, environmentalist, and civic leader.”More than 220 graduates and their families are expected to fill the tent on the LSC soccer field for the 11 a.m. ceremony. There will be reserved spaces for wheelchairs under the tent. The event will also be broadcast live in the climate-controlled Alexander Twilight Theatre and on the College’s website at LyndonState.edu. A pre-ceremony breakfast social in the Theatre lobby is planned. The post-ceremony reception in the Stannard Gym will give students “photo ops” with faculty, family, and friends. Both receptions are open to all.last_img read more

GMOs, EPA plan, endangered species make ‘2015 Vermont Law Top 10 Environmental Watch List’

first_imgEnvironmental faculty and student editors of the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law have announced publication of their annual “Vermont Law Top 10 Environmental Watch List,”(link is external) highlighting critical law and policy issues they believe will intensify in 2015. The list, in its fifth year, features articles co-authored by students and faculty of Vermont Law School on topics ranging from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan(link is external) to Vermont’s new labeling law(link is external) for genetically engineered foods (GMOs).“The field of environmental law is as vast as it is varied and it can be difficult at times to keep track of what’s actually happening,” said Andrew Minikowski ’15, VJEL editor-in-chief. “Our annual Top 10 list reflects what the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law(link is external) and environmental faculty at Vermont Law School feel to be the most important environmental legal issues that will likely develop in the upcoming year.”The Top 10, available online at watchlist.vermontlaw.edu(link is external), includes the following articles:“EPA Clean Power Plan: Homerun, Base Hit, or Strikeout?(link is external)”“Coal at a Crossroads in Powder River Basin(link is external)”“Shedding Light: Vermont’s Labeling Law for Genetically Engineered Foods(link is external)”“Obama Administration Settles with Navajo Nation for $554M(link is external)”“EPA v. EME Homer City Generation(link is external)”“Waters of the United States Rule(link is external)”“Gray Wolf Delisting Overturned(link is external)”“BP Oil Spill ‘Gross Negligence’ Finding by Federal Court(link is external)”“Endangered Species Act Regulations Ruled Unconstitutional(link is external)”“California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard(link is external)”Top 10 articles were written with a lay audience in mind.“In no way should this list be confined to a readership of lawyers and academics,” said Minikowski. “These issues—climate change, endangered species preservation, GE foods—affect every single human being on this Earth as well as the Earth itself. The awareness of an issue is the first step toward solving it. We encourage you to read our Top 10, discuss the issues with your friends and family, and of course, follow these issues over the next year and try to find a way that you can make a difference.”“Vermont Law School students and faculty are driven by their desire to improve the public’s understanding of critical issues affecting people and our planet, and I am continually impressed by their efforts to do so,” said VLS President and Dean Marc Mihaly(link is external). “It is our hope that readers of the 2015 Top 10 Environmental Watch List will be inspired to follow these issues in the coming year and take action in support of a more sustainable world.”Source: SOUTH ROYALTON, Vt., Dec. 8, 2014––Vermont Law School. For more information about the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law, including an archives of past Top 10 lists, visit vjel.vermontlaw.edu(link is external).last_img read more

BED urges community to ‘Share the Warmth’ by contributing to CVOEO WARMTH program

first_imgBurlington Electric Department,Kicks off campaign with $20k to help families with heating emergenciesBED GM Neale Lunderville presenting $20,000 contribution to CVOEO Executive Director Jan Demers. Back row: BED customer service representatives Alyssa Morway, Darlene Symons, and Gerrish Craig. Courtesy photo.Vermont Business Magazine The Burlington Electric Department (BED) today is encouraging the Burlington community to contribute to the WARMTH Support Program of the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO), leading by example with its own $20,000 gift – up from $12,000 last year – that will help Burlingtonians and Vermonters with heating emergencies this winter.  During last year’s 2014-15 heating season, WARMTH served 403 Burlington households with 649 assists, or direct payments to BED to keep the heat on, totaling more than $42,000.“For 110 years, BED has been in the business of making a difference for Burlington’s energy future and that difference includes sharing the warmth with members of our community who face emergencies,” said Neale Lunderville, BED General Manager.  “We appreciate CVOEO’s leadership in creating and growing the WARMTH Program over the last three decades and encourage our customers who are able to lend a hand toward this impactful effort. We are glad to continue our support at an increased level this year for such a worthy program.” BED will include a WARMTH program brochure in its November customer bills.  WARMTH funds are available for emergency situations, when a household faces disconnection of utility services or has exhausted its fuel supply and has been unable to secure sufficient assistance through other support channels.  Every dollar contributed by Burlingtonians and other Vermonters to WARMTH goes directly to the utility or fuel supplier of the individual or family in need. WARMTH has contributed more than $4.5 million to nearly 90,000 Vermonters since the program’s inception in 1986.  In addition to paying utility bills for those in need, WARMTH provides counseling and essential information to households in an effort to help avoid heating crises and has assisted more than 54,000 households over the past three decades.  BED’s $20,000 gift is an administrative support grant that CVOEO will use to compensate the WARMTH Program workers who provide direct service to Burlingtonians and Vermonters.  BED has provided similar support since 1986.    “Burlington Electric’s funding meets a need in a unique way that makes the WARMTH Program succeed,” said Jan Demers, CVOEO Executive Director.  “We are so fortunate to have this incredible utility’s support. We are especially grateful that BED was able to increase significantly its financial support of WARMTH this year.”“The Board of Electric Commissioners unanimously supported increasing BED’s contribution to WARMTH,” said Spencer Newman, Chair of the Board of Electric  Commissioners.  “We are proud to live in a City that walks the walk when it comes to helping our neighbors in need – after all, this kind of community support is what has led Burlington to become one of the most desirable Cities in which to live, work, and raise a family.”last_img read more