But Vermont’s naysaying third party isn’t along for the ride.
“The point is not to bring more money into the process. The point is to limit money,” says Vermont Progressive Party executive director Rob Millar. “You don’t close one floodgate by opening another one.”
Moreover, says Rep. Chris Pearson (P-Burlington), there’s a difference between super PACs and parties. While the former are legally barred from coordinating with the candidates they support, parties are free to share resources and strategy with candidates.
So if you reach the contribution limit of $2000 per election cycle to a candidate, you could simply write another $20,000 check to the Vermont Democratic Party, which could then spend that money on your fave politician.
“This is, in a way, a more direct workaround to any kind of campaign finance limitations for candidates,” Pearson says.
MONTPELIER, Vt. - House and Senate lawmakers in Vermont are pressing ahead with another attempt to require labeling of genetically modified food products.
Similar legislation failed to win passage last year, but backers say that a movement a-foot in more than a dozen states to pass similar legislation, combined with movement on the issue by some larger corporations, is sending a strong message that people want to know what's in the foods they eat.
"Walmart is now starting to get behind GMO labeling, some of these industries may prefer it on a national level, which would be great for that to happen, but in the meantime I think momentum is building in any number of ways, so if Walmart says things should be changed, that's a real change in the landscape," said Sen. David Zuckerman (P/D-Chittenden County), a sponsor of the Senate Bill.
For a growing chorus of lawmakers, however, the ends don’t justify the means. In particular, the Reach Up cap and the proposal to shrink the Earned Income Tax Credit to help pay for the child-care investment have come under fire.
“While we applaud his priorities, many of us across the state find his funding proposals detached from the economic reality of our neighbors,” Rep. Christopher Pearson said at a news conference Thursday where he and about a dozen other lawmakers unveiled nine alternative revenue options that would generate about $50 million.
“For those of us who have been critical, we thought it would be important to articulate some alternatives,” Sen. David Zuckerman, P/D-Chittenden, said.
Not that anybody else’s plans are meeting with a warmer reception. Just before Shumlin’s press conference, a groups of Progressive and Democratic lawmakers offered an alternative – raise the money for Shumlin’s education proposals by increasing taxes on the wealthy.
Standing in front of a poster showing that, when adjusted for inflation, the income of most Vermonters earning less than the median income fell, while the income of the wealthy rose as much as 156 percent (for the few earning $1 million or more), Rep. Chris Pearson, a Burlington Progressive, said modest increases in the bank franchise tax, the estate tax and income taxes on the wealthiest earners would raise enough money to finance Shumlin’s education initiatives and still maintain the present EITC level and the Reach Up rules.
A handful of progressive lawmakers countered planned Shumlin administration cuts to the poor with $50 million in taxes on companies, banks and the rich at a Statehouse press conference on Wednesday.
It’s the first time legislators have presented an alternative to Gov. Peter Shumlin’s budget address last month, which redirects $16.7 million in tax credits for the poor towards child-care subsidies, and limits family welfare benefits through the Reach Up program.
Shumlin’s budget proposals have been panned repeatedly by advocates for the poor and have faced a lukewarm reception among legislators from both major parties.
The newly unveiled Progressive package includes an estimated $20 million in revenue through raising income taxes for those earning $500,000 or more, $11 million by fully taxing capital gains (investment) income, and $5 million via a corporate income or franchise tax on banks.
The message from Progressive lawmakers, led by Rep. Chris Pearson, P-Burlington, came out as a pitch for fairness: Asking the wealthiest half of Vermonters to pay for state services for the poorer half.
Interviewed in the Charles Street home she shares with longtime Burlington housing activist Ted Wimpey, Knodell says she’s not coasting on her reputation and has been knocking on hundreds of doors. The former UVM provost, who is 58, touts her local political experience, arguing she will bring needed “institutional knowledge” to the council. Half of its members have served one term or less, while Mayor Miro Weinberger is also still new to his office, Knodell points out. “I won’t need any on-the-job training,” she says.
Asked to cite a few key achievements of her city council career, Knodell points to her work in helping transform the academically challenged H.O. Wheeler School into the Integrated Arts Academy, a magnet school that now attracts a more diverse student body from around the city. She also touts her unyielding advocacy for the Onion River Co-op’s move downtown. Some of her constituents wanted Shaw’s to become Burlington’s downtown supermarket, Knodell recalls. “I stood and delivered on City Market. I didn’t fold under pressure,” she recalls.