Speaker Smith ultimatum to lawmakers: Stick with the program

first_imgby Anne Galloway on March 11, 2011 vtdigger.org Whether you’re talking about your household checking account or the state General Fund, the math can be boiled down to a simple subtraction problem: revenues ‘ expenses = X.In good years X equals surpluses; for the last four years, that X has been a negative number in the many millions at the beginning of the state budgeting process. This year the figure in red represents 12 percent of the state’s budget, or about $176 million. In this legislative session, there is no Uncle Sam at the ready to bail out states with fistfuls of ready cash. In fact, the old man may have empty pockets next year and leave us with a new deficit problem caused by significant reductions in programs like the Low-Income Heating Assistance Program (that federal cut would amount to $14 million if it goes through).In order to resolve this year’s budget gap, Gov. Peter Shumlin has proposed an austere budget that would cut $43.8 million from the Agency of Human Services and raise $30 million in new taxes on medical providers. He has refused to consider using budget stabilization funds (rainy day money) or raising ‘broad-based’ taxes, i.e. income taxes, to soften the blow to programs for the elderly, developmentally disabled and mentally ill.Despite public pressure and internal rumblings in the General Assembly, it appears that Sen. John Campbell, president pro tem of the Senate, and House Speaker Shap Smith have locked arms with the governor on the no new taxes pledge. When Campbell and Smith stood in front of 1,000 people who gathered in front of the Statehouse to protest the human services cuts on Wednesday, neither leader offered much comfort in the way of promises to restore the cuts. Smith, for example, told the activists he wouldn’t make promises he couldn’t keep.Several Progressive members of the General Assembly meanwhile are pressing for taxes on the wealthy to ameliorate the worst of the reductions in state spending. The Democratic leadership, however, is doggedly singing the familiar refrain: ‘We can’t tax our way out of this.’It was in this light that Speaker Smith issued an ultimatum to the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday: Stick with the program.Smith made an appearance in front of the committee to reinforce party discipline. He asked lawmakers to accept the governor’s budget, as is, and to refrain from the temptation to raise income taxes or place a levy on sugar-sweetened beverages.He argued that the governor’s budget already raises a significant amount of revenue ‘ $30 million in new health care provider taxes.‘The budget does not balance if we do not have $30 million in new revenues,’ Smith said. ‘The scope of what the governor has proposed is a good direction to go in.’The speaker then ticked off a list of talked-about taxation options he said ‘I think we should avoid.’ At the top? A sugar-sweetened beverage tax. ‘It’s not that I don’t believe it’s appropriate at some point and time,’ Smith said. He told the committee it would make more sense to levy a tax on soda as part of a health care package at some point as a way to incentivize healthy behaviors. ‘Sin taxes’ shape behavior, in his view, and they are ‘not the best way to generate stable revenue.’The speaker took care to say he ‘broadly’ supports the Vermont Blue Ribbon Tax Structure Commission report, but he hoped legislators ‘would not confuse’ that with the capacity to raise taxes. While he didn’t foreclose on the possibility that taxes could be increased, he strongly urged lawmakers to refrain from using the restructuring of the tax code as a vehicle for raising taxes.Smith said the commission’s recommendations were revenue neutral (they didn’t raise more in taxes), and he wants House Ways and Means to keep it that way.‘We ought to be cautious about moving away from that framework,’ Smith said. ‘We may need a new framework in the future.’The dirty little secret, Smith said, is ‘we can’t raise that much money in income taxes’ (for fiscal year 2012) unless the state retroactively applies the rates. Anne Galloway is editor of vtdigger.org (www.vtdigger.org(link is external))last_img read more

No. 1 USC gears up for Liz Murphy Invitational

first_imgThe top-ranked USC women’s golf team will attempt to win its third straight tournament this weekend at the annual Liz Murphy Collegiate Invitational, which runs Friday through Sunday, at the UGA Golf Course in Athens, Ga.Pro ready · Sophomore Annie Park will miss USC’s tournament to compete in the LPGA Kraft Nabisco Championship over the weekend. – Courtesy of USC Sports Information The defending national champions have won seven wins out of their past eight tournaments; if they are going to win this weekend’s tournament, however, they will need to do it without their best individual player, sophomore Annie Park. Park, the No. 3-ranked collegiate golfer and the No. 2-ranked amateur player, will instead head to the LPGA’s Kraft Nabisco Championship today through Sunday, at Mission Hills C.C. in Rancho Mirage, Calif.Another challenge for the Women of Troy will be the alternative format at the Liz Murphy Invitational. The tournament will not follow normal tournament rules;  instead, it will be structured to resemble the future format of the NCAA Championship tournament.Friday’s stroke play will divide the field into top and bottom brackets consisting of eight teams each. Teams will then play two rounds of match play Saturday, and one round on Sunday, to determine the tournament winner.The Women of Troy have winning experience with various combinations of starters, which will hopefully prove effective considering the absence of Park. Traveling to Georgia in the starting lineup will be junior Doris Chen, sophomores Kyung Kim and Victoria Morgan and freshmen Gabriella Then and Karen Chung. Chung, who hails from Livingston, N.J., recently won her first collegiate event at USC.USC women’s golf team is ranked No. 1 in the country for many reasons, an important one being their depth. The loss of Park is expected to present some adversity for the team, but the Women of Troy have consistently proved that they can compete at any level with many different members of their team.USC will hope to add to its record-breaking season this weekend in Athens, but as usual, they will face some of the nation’s toughest opponents during the competition. In addition to host Georgia, the tournament will include No. 6 Alabama, No. 7 Arkansas, No. 16 Northwestern, No. 21 Iowa State and No. 22 Michigan State, as well as other competitive teams from across the country.Play begins at 8 a.m. each day and can be followed live on birdiefire.com.last_img read more

Dodgers can’t solve Colorado Rockies pitcher German Marquez in 3-1 loss

first_img“He was dotting,” Hernandez said of Marquez. “This was the first time I’ve ever faced him so it’s hard for me to compare (to Marquez’s past starts against the Dodgers) but he was hitting his spots, hitting the corners. He had every pitch working for him. Late in the game the shadows were creeping in. As the game went on, he kept throwing harder and harder. That adds to it.”Marquez allowed two hits, did not walk a batter, and struck out nine in eight innings. He lowered his ERA to 5.14.Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda (5-5) was stuck with a tough loss. The right-hander allowed three runs over seven innings, though one run was unearned by virtue of a passed ball. He walked two batters and struck out nine. Afterward, he said through his interpreter that Marquez’s perfection did not affect him.“I was executing all my pitches,” Maeda said.Maeda matched Marquez batter-for-batter into the fourth inning, when D.J. LeMahieu greeted him with a double. LeMahieu tagged up and went to third base on a deep fly ball, then scored when Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal allowed a Maeda slider to get past his glove, nearly to the backstop. The passed ball gave Colorado a 1-0 lead.In the fifth inning, Maeda allowed a solo home run to Ian Desmond that landed a few rows deep in left field. Colorado led 2-0.Two pitches into the sixth inning, Hernandez jumped on a hanging slider from Marquez and sent it 404 feet into left field for a solo home run. That injected some life into the announced crowd of 46,172 and applied the first hint of pressure on the Rockies. The next batter, Chase Utley, singled into right field.The pressure quickly abated. Maeda flew out. So did Pederson. Max Muncy skied a fly ball to left to end the inning.“Just really good stuff,” Roberts said of Marquez. “The seventh, eighth inning, he was 95 to 100. He was throwing secondary stuff on the first pitch – slider, curveball, change. He was in command all day. When the fastball plays like it does, beating our bats in the strike zone, it’s tough get anything going.”Roberts said he did not know Marquez was capable of throwing a baseball 100 mph. According to Brooks Baseball, he’d only done it once as a major leaguer, back on May 10 in Denver.Colorado got one run back in the top of the seventh inning, when Chris Iannetta’s one-out single scored Trevor Story. Later that inning Gerardo Parra was at third base when Marquez, batting for himself, laid down a bunt. Parra tried scoring on the safety squeeze but was thwarted by Grandal, who fielded the bunt himself before diving back to make the tag.Unfortunately for the Dodgers, their three-game losing streak landed them four games behind the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks – exactly where they were when the month began. Their June hot streak coincided with one in Phoenix, too. Roberts said his team demonstrated more growth than the standings reflect.“You look back at the last 30 days, we’re in a much better situation,” Roberts said. “Our best days are still ahead.” Hernandez’s home run was the team’s 55th in June, extending a franchise record. The Dodgers matched the 1947 Giants, 2000 Cardinals and 2003 Braves for the most home runs by a National League team in a single month.The homers allowed the Dodgers to win more games (17) than they lost (9) in June; they began the month with a 26-30 record. They’re 43-38 now.But every now and then a game like Saturday’s, or an at-bat like Pederson’s, exposes a hole in the Dodgers’ arsenal.“It’s kind of the construction of our club,” Manager Dave Roberts said. “We’re getting (Chris) Taylor back into the mix. He’s a guy that when he’s right can work a walk and get a base hit, but when you look at a lot of the guys we have, it’s tough to live by the longball. When you run into good pitching and can’t or don’t take a walk, find a way to hit the outfield grass and keep the line moving, it’s tough because you’re not going to be able to slug all the time.”Marquez began the day with a a 5.53 earned-run average. The right-hander had one win in his previous five starts. He also began the day with a fastball in the 94-95 mph range. By the seventh inning, Marquez was touching 100 on the Dodger Stadium radar gun. PreviousLos Angeles Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger, right, tosses his bat in the air after striking out to end the baseball game as Colorado Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta walks awayFriday, June 29, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Rockies won 3-1. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal, left, tags out Colorado Rockies’ Gerardo Parra, right, at home as Parra tried to score on a bunt by German Marquez during the seventh inning of a baseball game Saturday, June 30, 2018, in Los Angeles. Calling the play at center is home plate umpire Will Little. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Dodgers’ Enrique Hernandez, center, runs to first after hitting a solo home run off Colorado Rockies starting pitcher German Marquez, left, during the sixth inning of a baseball game Saturday, June 30, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) SoundThe gallery will resume insecondsColorado Rockies’ Ian Desmond, right, gestures as he scores after hitting a solo home run as Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal stands at the plate during the fifth inning of a baseball game Saturday, June 30, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Kenta Maeda, of Japan, walks into the bullpen to warm up for the team’s baseball game against the Colorado Rockies on Saturday, June 30, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Colorado Rockies starting pitcher German Marquez throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies on Saturday, June 30, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Kenta Maeda, of Japan, throws during the first inning of the team’s baseball game against the Colorado Rockies on Saturday, June 30, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Dodgers’ Justin Turner hits a solo home run off Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Wade Davis, left, during the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, June 29, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger, right, tosses his bat in the air after striking out to end the baseball game as Colorado Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta walks awayFriday, June 29, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Rockies won 3-1. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal, left, tags out Colorado Rockies’ Gerardo Parra, right, at home as Parra tried to score on a bunt by German Marquez during the seventh inning of a baseball game Saturday, June 30, 2018, in Los Angeles. Calling the play at center is home plate umpire Will Little. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)NextShow Caption1 of 8Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal, left, tags out Colorado Rockies’ Gerardo Parra, right, at home as Parra tried to score on a bunt by German Marquez during the seventh inning of a baseball game Saturday, June 30, 2018, in Los Angeles. Calling the play at center is home plate umpire Will Little. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)ExpandLOS ANGELES – Joc Pederson saw a couple curveballs over the outside corner in the sixth inning Saturday – gifts from God on a day when German Marquez’s fastball was touching 100 mph. The Rockies were giving Pederson the third-base line, so much that an opposite-field cue shot by a left-handed hitter could travel all the way to the corner. A hit was there for the taking.Pederson let Marquez’s first curveball pass him by for a called strike. The second curveball, on 0-and-2, Pederson approached without regard to the Rockies’ infield shift. He pulled the ball in the air to left-center field, where Charlie Blackmon caught it for the third out. Chase Utley, one of the Dodgers’ two baserunners Saturday, was left stranded on first base.The Dodgers’ 3-1 loss saw an unheralded pitcher exploit a homer-happy Dodger team and the late-afternoon shadows to near perfection. German Marquez retired the first 15 batters he saw.Sign up for our Inside the Dodgers newsletter. Be the best Dodger fan you can be by getting daily intel on your favorite team. Subscribe here.Kiké Hernandez’s solo home run in the sixth inning broke up the perfect game, but the Dodgers could not muster a rally. They collected just three hits against Marquez, who pitched the first eight innings, and Adam Ottavino.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more