Lawmakers try to help flood-hit towns

WARDSBORO — Good news to report from Montpelier as our legislative session progresses.

We are supporting towns affected by flooding by reimbursing educational property tax abatements, by postponing payment into the education fund, by picking up the 25 percent FEMA match for flood mitigation and buyouts of destroyed homes, by increasing the state match for town highways, and by paying the entire FEMA match for towns overwhelmed in their ability to pay.

Our actions have been spontaneous and unanimous for all towns affected by the natural disasters of 2011.

Concerning education and property taxes, we have already included in the budget adjustment act future increases to the education fund, and we are carrying forward recommendations of the Dover and Wilmington education finance study.

Representative Ann Manwaring and I have introduced legislation proposing a study to determine how spending and governance can lead to equal curriculum for all children and how outcomes can be tracked. It is time to complete the promise of the Brigham decision: to provide equal educational opportunity for all our children.

Two major issues we are currently dealing with in the House are reapportionment and our mental health system.

The first draft on redrawing the lines of 150 House seats to meet constitutional requirements will be up for a lengthy floor debate. Also, we expect the future of our mental health system, including proposals for state hospital patients, to produce extended discussion within the chamber.

Please join me for office hours through the end of May:

• On the second Saturday of each month at 9 a.m. at the Wardsboro town office, and at 11 a.m. in the Dover Free Library.

• On the fourth Saturday of each month at 9 a.m. at the Readsboro school, at 11 a.m. at the Stamford library, and at 1 p.m. in the Searsburg town office.

Please contact me at 58 Hi-Hopes Road, Wardsboro, VT 05355, 802-896-9408; or at the Statehouse, 115 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05633-5201, 800-322-5616 (in Vermont only), or at [email protected].

It continues to be an honor to serve you.

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