×

Forum, April 13: Sununu’s proposed budget is being unfairly attacked


Friday, April 12, 2019
Sununu’s proposed budget is being unfairly attacked

The allocation of surplus funds in Gov. Chris Sununu’s proposed budget is being unfairly attacked.

New Hampshire Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes and Claremont School Board member Jason Benware have called the support for municipal projects “pork-barrel spending” and said they would rather see the surplus money go toward so-called “real support for local property taxpayers,” including spending to expand ongoing operating expenses in the state budget.

This point bears repeating: These are one-time, surplus funds. Once they are spent, they are gone. The best way to help property taxpayers is to fund individual community infrastructure projects that would otherwise require cutting school funding or raising property taxes to accomplish.

Unlike some of his critics, however, Gov. Sununu is a fiscally responsible man. He understands the basic principles of budgeting, especially the concept that one-time money should be used solely for one-time expenses.

Instead of disingenuously picking apart the governor’s budget, how about Feltes and Benware stop looking to raise taxes, stop looking to implement unsustainable spending and instead look at Sununu’s proposed projects and assess their individual merit?

BLAKE FORD

Claremont

Vermont fuel tax rhetoric has been discouraging

It’s been discouraging to hear Vermont Gov. Phil Scott and Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe repeating the right-wing Republican characterization of a 2-cent per gallon increase in the heating fuel tax as a “doubling of the tax” that will harm poor and rural Vermonters.

Let’s get serious and remember that the goal here is to benefit poor and rural folks who cannot afford to tighten up their homes. Without this help, the health of those who would benefit will continue to be at risk, while we wastefully allow fuel that could be conserved to be burned, further jeopardizing our climate. This might be the only climate change bill Vermont legislators have the opportunity to vote for this year.

It becomes more than discouraging — in fact, it borders on infuriating — to now hear Democratic senators including mine, Jane Kitchel, falling in line and knuckling under to the same rhetoric. Do these senators really imagine that rejecting an increase of $15 to $20 per heating season — far less than the increase resulting from price fluctuations in heating fuel during many winters — is more important than supporting weatherization of double the number of homes through a program with a long history of success? If so, the submission of some Democrats to the terror of being labeled “taxers” by right-wing propagandists has gone deeper than I’d imagined. The increasing inability of legislators to argue about anything other than the taxable bottom line of any proposal should terrify us all.

If this regressive tax seems too onerous to poor and rural folks, even as some Democratic senators admit that weatherization funds are well spent and a tangible benefit to poor and rural Vermonters, then I suggest these senators take a deep breath and propose instead to find a tax on wealthy Vermonters, one that will cause them little to no pain, in order to quadruple funding for home weatherization.

Or they could take the simpler path, change their minds and vote for the weatherization funding increase now before the Senate.

GEOFFREY GARDNER

Bradford, Vt.