Colin J. Moffett			Office Phone: 802-656-2053
	SGA President				Home Phone: 802-865-2862
	University of Vermont			FAX:  802-656-7719
	Burlington, VT				EMAIL:  [log in to unmask]

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 18 Feb 1997 11:53:04 -0500 (EST)
From: Newserve <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Legislative Update, Feb. 15, 1997

Volume 7, No. 6
Published by the Office of Government Relations
Ruth Wallman, Director
FAX: 656-3203
[log in to unmask]

February 15, 1997

Now that the euphoria surrounding the Supreme Court ruling regarding the 
property tax as a funding source for higher education has subsided, grim 
reality has dawned on legislators, the leadership and the Governor.  The 
House Ways and Means Committee, charged with designing a bill to be 
passed this session, had thought they would have a draft available for 
the week of Town Meeting, in two weeks.  Now they're talking St. 
Patrick's Day!  Still, snippets of information are available: the 
Committee is leaning toward a Guaranteed Yield formula, much like last 
biennium's H. 351, also authored by Rep. John Freidin.  This device 
guarantees that a certain tax rate will yield a certain number of dollars 
per student.  Therefore, towns could count on raising a certain amount of 
money for, say, a 1% property tax, and the state would make up the 
difference in what 1% can bring.  There is still talk of new taxes on 
gasoline, services, and junk food.  All of these have their opponents.  
With no specific plan floating to keep a lid on costs, Ralph Wright's 
statewide teachers contract is again in the wind.

The Governor, meanwhile, has been quoted as saying that Vermont already 
spends enough on education, and that it is merely a matter of 
redistributing the wealth.  The conventional wisdom, however, says that 
more spending will be necessary in order to hold harmless the 
high-spending towns while bringing up the low-spending towns to the 
foundation level, or some other level of spending agreed to as "equal" as 
opposed to "adequate".  No one wants to propose the solution put forth by 
New Jersey Gov. Whitman recently, which would have capped spending in 
property-wealthy towns in order to equalize spending in all towns.  She 
withdrew her proposal.

This is probably the most-covered story in the media in the past ten 
days, and will probably continue to be so until a draft is available for 
public review.  Meanwhile, the Ways and Means Committee will be receiving 
testimony at public hearings, and legislators will be talking with their 
constituents during the week of Town Meeting.

House Appropriations
President Salmon, accompanied by Ray Lavigne and Jon Crystal, testified 
before the House Appropriations Committee last Tuesday.  Salmon gave an 
overview of his six years as President, highlighting some of the major 
advances such as new compacts with the State Colleges to coordinate 
programs and offer IBM a full spectrum of education and training courses, 
as well as the Vermont Technology Council's activities to support 
economic development in the state.  Salmon indicated that a 5% increase 
will be needed to help address a budget imbalance caused by an increase 
in Vermont student need.  He said that the increase will ensure access 
and quality.  The Governor has included in his budget a 3% increase in 
the appropriations for UVM, VSC and VSAC.  An additional 2% would 
increase this amount by approximately $525,000.

The House Education Committee this year asked to review the budgets of 
the three higher education entities in order to be able to recommend its 
priorities to the Appropriations Committee.  After hearing budget 
presentations from UVM, VSC and VSAC, the Committee voted to give VSC 
$1.3 million more than the Governor's Recommend, an 8.3% increase;  VSAC 
an extra $1 million, an 8.2% increase; and UVM a $525,000 increase, or 
2%.  This decision was partly based on the fact that VSC and VSAC asked 
for 20% increases, and UVM asked for 5%.  One legislator remarked that 
$525,000 was enough because "it is what they asked for." It raises the 
old question of whether to ask for what you need or what you think is 
possible in a year of lower revenues.  On Friday two members of House 
Education, Rep. Crawford of Burke, and Rep. Krasnow of Charlotte, made 
the above recommendations to House Appropriations.  It is unlikely that 
Appropriations will vote those huge increases, as there is no funding 
source except "cutting someone else," but the recommendation does put 
forth the idea  that UVM only asked for what was needed, rather than what 
might be possible.  House Appropriations will not be marking up the 
education portion of the budget for at least a week.  Rep. Francis Brooks 
of Montpelier will be reporting that part of the budget.

Sen.Illuzzi Gets Involved in the Mountain top
Sen. Vince Illuzzi, Chair of Senate Institutions, has brought to his 
Committee the issues involving the top of Mt. Mansfield, owned by UVM and 
host to broadcast towers for the major media in Vermont.  Suspicious that 
the Mt. Mansfield Collocation Association, which is responsible for 
planning the future of the mountain top, has denied access  to a new TV 
station, Champlain Valley Television, or Channel 44, Illuzzi called in a 
panoply of station owners to respond to his challenge.  After determining 
that the Act 250 process was not guilty of denying access, Illuzzi 
queried all the other parties.  Channel 44, meanwhile, has hired 
high-powered lobbyists Kimball and Sherman to represent its interests in 
the Statehouse.  Althissioner of Health Care Administration.  A report is 
called for to evaluate the impact of this bill on health care costs.

S.78 Confidentiality of Medical Records
This bill is being substantially rewritten.  UVM's Office of Sponsored 
Programs pointed out some problems in the construction of the bill, which 
will be addressed in the next draft, out next week.

S.28 Moratorium on Herbicide Spraying
This bill, which passed the Senate, contains a section calling for the 
Commissioner of Forests, Parks and Recreation, in consultation with UVM, 
to report to the legislature in 2003 on the current status of scientific 
and technical literature .  

New Bills
H.318 Enacts three computer crimes: 1) access to computer for fraudulent 
purposes, 2) intentional access, alteration and damage, and 3) computer 
theft.  The crimes call for imprisonment and fines.

S.107 Requires Lobbyists to Wear Identification Badges
"Each badge shall include the word 'lobbyist' in bold print" says this 
bill, sponsored by Sens. Ready and Ptashnik. An annual fee of $5 will be 
charged,, and the color of the badge will be changed each legislative 

Public Hearing
Monday, February 24, on Vermont Interact TV, 7:15 to 9:45 p.m.  
The Senate Appropriations Committee will be hearing from citizens on the 
FY 98 Appropriations Bill.