House Speaker Shap Smith today asked Vermonters, employers, policy makers and stakeholders to submit proposals for economic development and job growth strategies for consideration in the legislative biennium.
“On the first day of the session, I called on lawmakers to work together as we strive to create an atmosphere of opportunity across Vermont. It is in this spirit that we are asking for public input on state economic development strategies,” announced Speaker Smith.
House Speaker Shap Smith announced tri-partisan support today for public hearings to investigate the cost of gasoline in Northwestern Vermont, which can be up to 30 or 40 cents higher than prices found in other parts of the state. The hearings will be held on Thursday, January 22 from 5:00 – 7:00pm in Room 11 of the State House.
“Folks who live or travel around Northwestern Vermont ask why filling up at the pump is so expensive,” explained Speaker Smith. “Although fuel prices have dropped nationally and across Vermont, the cost reduction has not kept pace in our Northwest communities. I have instructed the House Transportation and Commerce Committees to hold a public hearing to investigate this matter and report back with recommendations for next steps.”
On Wednesday, January 7th, 2015, Shap Smith was nominated to serve as the Speaker of the House for the 2015 - 2016 biennium. In delivering his acceptance speech, the Speaker outlined many of the challenges facing Vermont, including health care reform, Lake Champlain clean up, as well as how critical it will be for legislators to maintain and promote economic opportunity throughout the state. The full, verbatim text of the speech is posted below and a video of the speech can be seen here.
Montpelier, Vt. – House Speaker Shap Smith today asked Vermonters, policy makers and stakeholders to submit education finance proposals for consideration in the coming legislative session as lawmakers work to create an education system that is sustainable and affordable for taxpayers.
“Vermonters value high quality public education,” said Speaker Smith, “but the current delivery and funding systems have resulted in annual property tax increases that many Vermonters cannot afford. We need to work together to solve this problem. That’s why I am inviting taxpayers, stakeholders and policy makers to add their voices to the conversation the House will undertake when we reconvene in January.”
The Speaker of the House has made education reform and property tax relief a top priority. In October, Smith announced he would instruct his leadership team to bring property tax relief to a vote in 2015. The Speaker has since held meetings with state and local stakeholders to demonstrate his commitment to reform efforts.
The Speaker’s Office has asked that all respondents reply by December 31, 2014. Proposals may be submitted electronically using the email address Speaker@leg.state.vt.us. Mailed materials may be sent to: Speaker’s Office, 115 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05633.
“Education is a collaborative effort. By asking folks to share their ideas, we seek a dialogue with our neighbors and communities. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and work together to improve Vermont’s education system,” Speaker Smith concluded.
As January winds down, the State House is humming with activity. Our first weeks included the Governor's election, the State of the Union speech and the Budget address. I was honored to be elected to my fourth term as Speaker on the first day of the session, and share my colleagues’ sense of urgency to tackle key priorities.
Legislators heard during the 2014 campaign that Vermonters are feeling the financial pinch. Many hear about the growing economy and rising stockmarket yet don't see it in their paychecks. They feel the impact of rising health care costs, property taxes, food and other items. People are having a hard time making ends meet, plain and simple.
Four years ago, this body first elected me to serve as Speaker of the House. I am humbled now, as I was then, by the faith that you have placed in me to serve as your Speaker. I hope to honor that faith over the coming two years as we work together to make Vermont a better place.
In the years since I was first elected Speaker, our state and country has experienced a grave economic downturn and politics have become increasingly polarized on the national level. The political culture in the nation’s capital has left many discouraged and, quite frankly, disgusted. As the country faces monumental challenges -- huge future fiscal imbalances, crumbling infrastructure and an education system that is not preparing our children for citizenry or the work force, many openly wonder whether our leaders and systems are capable of putting aside their differences, rolling up their sleeves and laying a foundation for a strong future.