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Messages - Carolyn Branagan

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Political Issues/Comments / Re: Two Vie For Fairfax Selectboard
« on: February 07, 2013, 09:04:07 PM »
Too bad Bob Horr is leaving the selectboard. From my experience, Bob worked very hard to do the right thing for Fairfax residents. I hope he continues to be involved in some aspect of town government . 
Carolyn Branagan

Political Issues/Comments / Re: money money
« on: November 06, 2012, 11:37:04 AM »
Nhibbard, all good comments.
Did you see how this outflow amount is expanding?  Up $.9 mil from FY12 to FY13.
Then up another $1.1 million from FY13 to FY14. The number of renters getting the benefit is not available. (I can 'demand' it when we return to the statehouse in January. )
but I have not seen data that shows an increase in the number of people renting that would justify an increase of this magnitude.  Clearly not sustainable.

Political Issues/Comments / Re: money money
« on: November 06, 2012, 10:18:02 AM »
The Education Fund share of the renter rebate program in fiscal year 2012 was $5.8 million. This is the amount of money sent from the Education fund to renters to make it so the amount of money they paid for school taxes is equal to the percentage Vermonters pay who are using the income sensitivity method for property taxes.
In FY2013 the estimate is $6.7 million
In FY2014 the estimate is $7.8 million


Political Issues/Comments / serving Fairfax
« on: November 06, 2012, 05:53:06 AM »
Dear Fairfax, thanks for allowing me to serve as your state representative for the past 10 years. I have met some wonderful people, attended many meetings and have honestly tried to do my best to bring your opinions into the decisions that are made in Montpelier. Please feel free to contact me in the future if you have have questions concerning state goverment. I will continue to try to find the answers for you. Thanks for all.

Rep. Carolyn Branagan
Franklin-1, Fairfax/Georgia
Vermont House of Representatives

Political Issues/Comments / Re: money money
« on: November 06, 2012, 05:45:46 AM »
Skippy...........I just saw your question this morning, Election Day. I'm on my way out to the polls right now, but will try to get the answer to your question when I stop back here at home for a warm up.  The renter rebate program is  costly, but the thiking was in fairness, renters should get the same benefit as others. Since most Vermonters pay school tax using the income sensitivity program, with the renter rebate program they can end up paying the same as those who pay on income. Most landlords include property taxes in the rent amount. That's how it was explained to me anyway, I never really understood the rationale.  As you probably remember I developed a couple of much fairer programs for school taxes,  but the D.'s weren't interested. I'm trying not to  hold a grudge, there's still hope.
 I'll try to find the cost figure.


PS. Ed has gotten a lot more liberal! Must be Deer Season isn't too far away.

I'm actually going to miss you guys.

Political Issues/Comments / Play it safe
« on: October 26, 2012, 08:54:44 PM »
So, fortunately the National Weather Service is now saying the storm next week won't be  as dangerous as originally thought. You may want to keep these suggestions for emergency preparation on hand anyway. They were sent to me from the Vermont Department of Public Safety.
--Public should prepare for this storm as they prepare for any potential adverse conditions
--Take the opportunity this weekend to clean up anything that can blow around in a high wind event.
--Clear culverts and storm drains in case of heavy rain
--Make sure you have essentials in your home in case you lose power or become isolated for any reason.
--Canned Food
--If we have a power outage and you have a generator, make sure it is run OUTSIDE
--CO Poisoning can result from improper exhaust into the home.

Rep. Carolyn Branagan
Franklin-1, Fairfax/Georgia

Political Issues/Comments / Frankenstorm?
« on: October 26, 2012, 08:53:49 PM »
I thought you'd be interested in this information sent to me from Lt. Gov Phil Scott and  the Public Safety Commissioner, Keith Flynn. I think this letter went to all legislators.  Here's what they sent:

First of all, we are assured by the National Weather Service that this is not going to be a repeat of Tropical Storm Irene. The possible fallout from this storm in Vermont is still very much uncertain; however NWS indicates that it is not likely we will see the worst-case scenario of severe flooding we feared earlier in the week. NWS says we are likely to see a significant amount of rain, but not enough to cause widespread flooding.

Due to wet soils there is a chance for localized flooding. Towns and individuals are encouraged to ensure culverts and storm drains are clear of any debris (particularly fallen leaves) to ensure water can flow freely in heavy rains.

The main threat appears to be wind gusts. Winds in excess of 50 miles-per-hour are likely throughout the state, particularly on the western slopes of the Green Mountains. Vermont Emergency Management is encouraging the public to remove lawn furniture, toys, and other loose impediments from yards to avoid damage from flying items. The winds are also expected to cause a significant number of power outages. VEM has been in daily contact with the state’s utilities to ensure state support is provided, wherever possible, to bring power customers back on line as quickly as possible. Green Mountain Power has already procured additional crews from out of state to expedite its response, should it be necessary.

To re-iterate, this storm does NOT appear to be on the same scale as Tropical Storm Irene of a year ago. It is not the same type of storm – more of a nor’easter; it will not bring the volume of rain we saw last year; and the rain will be drawn out over a couple of days so it has a better chance of dissipating. The state has been in contact with local Emergency Management Directors since early this week and that communication continues. State agencies have been meeting to discuss a possible response. VEM has alerted swiftwater rescue teams and the Vermont National Guard of the possibility of a response next week.

The scenario is less dire than it may have been should the storm taken a different track, but the public is still encouraged to be prepared for anything.
Rep. Carolyn Branagan
Franklin-1, Fairfax/Georgia

General Discussion / Re: Please Keep Marcheta Townsend In Your Prayers
« on: October 22, 2012, 06:35:03 PM »
I'm so sorry to hear this. She'll be in my  prayers. 

Political Issues/Comments / money money
« on: October 15, 2012, 12:56:52 PM »
Thought needs to be given to planning for the state fiscal budget 2014. When the legislature returns to Montpelier in early January, work will already be underway to prepare a proposal for the new year's statewide monetary needs and wants.

Keep in mind that FY2012 closed out with a surplus of $11.33 million. The extra money was due largely to Corporate Income tax doing much better than anticipated. The entire amount of overage (the $11.33 mil) was used for repair of state buildings damaged by hurricane Irene.

For this fiscal year, FY2013, the General Fund is right where our estimates thought it would be. We're on target so far overall, but there have been some ups and downs. All is balancing out. Corporate tax revenues and Estate tax revenues are up by a combined $4.5 million. Personal Income tax withholding looks about 5% below our estimates. We may have simply set those estimates too high in the beginning, but I'll save that debate for another time. Sales tax, Rooms and Meals taxes and Property Transfer taxes are all just about where they should be.The Transportation Fund includes revenue from Gas tax, Purchase and Use tax and fees. Combined they are all running about 4% below target. And the Education fund is OK.

As I've written before, preparing a budget means looking at three budgets at a time: the one just past, the present year and the one you are planning for. In my opinion, neither the past year nor the current year show strong enough growth or stability to justify increasing expenditures above where we are now. The state economy continues to be fragile, as does the national economy. Keep an eye on what happens with the Euro. The economic roller coaster isn't over.

Rep. Carolyn Branagan

Franklin -1 Fairfax/Georgia

Vermont House of Representatives

Political Issues/Comments / Voting
« on: October 10, 2012, 07:10:58 PM »
Please remember that election day is November 6, 2012.  Casting a vote has never  been more important. To vote in the state of Vermont,  you must be registered before hand. The last day to register to vote in the upcoming  General Election is Wednesday, October 31, 2012. You can vote in Vermont ONLY if you:
1. are a citizen of the United States;
2. are a resident of Vermont and a resident of the town in which you apply to be added to the checklist;
3. take, or have previously taken, the Voter's Oath (formerly called the "Freeman's Oath"); and
4. are 18 years of age or more.

The Voter registration forms are called “Applications for Addition to the Checklist” Applications for Addition to the Checklist can be downloaded from the Vermont Secretary of State 's website, but the easiest thing to do is get your Application for Addition to the Checklist from your town clerk. You can fill it out right there and  the town clerk can administer the Oath to you.

Once you are registered, you can vote in two ways:

1. Early or Absentee voting.
Early voting has already begun. This is also called absentee voting. If you are sick or disabled a ballot can be delivered to your home on Election Day. You may request an absentee ballot up until 5 p.m. on the day before the election. Two justices of the peace (of different parties) will deliver a ballot to you, and then will bring the ballot back to the polling place so that it can be placed in the ballot box and counted.

Or any voter can request that the town clerk mail them an early voter absentee ballot. This ballot will arrive with a return envelope so that the ballot, once voted, can be returned to the clerk so that it can be counted on Election Day. The clerk must receive the ballot by the close of polls on Election Day in order to be counted. A ballot can be requested any time before an election. Clerks will mail absentee ballots within the 45 days prior to the election. Many clerks have already mailed absentee ballots out.

A voter may pick up a ballot at the town clerk’s office at any time beginning forty-five days prior to the election. The ballot can be hand delivered to the clerk on Election Day or prior to Election Day by the voter or any person the voter authorizes to return the ballot for him or her. A person can only pick up his or her own ballot from the clerk’s office.

You can also vote right at the Town Clerk’s office in person any time forty-five days before the general election.

2. Election Day voting. 

Election day is November 6, 2012. It is a lot of fun to go to the polls. Polling in Georgia is located at the big gym from 7am until 7pm. In Fairfax the polling is at BFA from 7am until 7pm. You'll have to tell the members of the Board of  Civil Authority who you are and they check off that you have taken a ballot.  Then you take your ballot into the voting booth to mark your ballot. When you return your ballot the Board of  Civil Authority  checks off that  your ballot is returned. That's it. There are always lots of people from town at the polls, and it's a great place to visit and  catch up with your  neighbors.

Don't forget to vote.  It's really important.

Rep. Carolyn Branagan
Franklin-1, Fairfax/Georgia
Vermont House of Representatives

Political Issues/Comments / Medicare
« on: October 04, 2012, 06:17:44 AM »
It's nearly that time of year again. Soon Medicare recipients will be asked by the federal government to evaluate their health care coverage. Recipients will have the chance to change coverage if necessary, and in most cases, there will not be another chance to change coverage for a year. Recently Medicare recipients received in the mail a handbook "Medicare & You'.

Medicare is the federal health insurance available to people who are over age 65 or for people who are under age 65 with certain disabilities or for people who are of any age with end state renal disease. There are different parts to Medicare. Medicare part A is  Hospital Insurance and helps to cover inpatient care in hospitals, skilled nursing facility care, hospice care and Home Health care. Medicare part B is Medical Insurance and helps to cover service from a doctor and other health care providers, outpatient care, Home Health care, durable medical equipment and some preventative  services.  Medicare part C is the Medicare Advantage program run by Medicare approved private insurance programs. It usually includes the services covered by parts A and B and sometimes part D.  Medicare part D is also operated by Medicare approved private insurance companies and helps to cover the cost of prescription drugs. 

Medicare plans and prescription drug plans can change costs and coverage every year.
You should review the plan you are  using for the coming year and make sure it meets your needs for the coming year. If you like the plan you are on and it meets your needs,  then you will not have to do anything about changing. But for those who want to make a change in coverage, now is the time to do so. Every year there are a handful of people in my legislative district who ask about how to change their Medicare coverage. For most Medicare recipients, there is only one chance per year to make a change in health and prescription coverage.

Here is the best way to proceed:
October 1-15  Use this time to compare your current coverage with other options available. If you are happy with what you  have, great! No need to do anything else.
October 15-December 7 This is the official Open Enrollment time when you can change your Medicare coverage. Call 1-800-633-4277.
January 1  This is when the new coverage will begin and it will stay in place for a year.

One last thing..........lots of people know this is the time of year for Medicare re-evaluation and some will try to take advantage of seniors. Don't ever give personal information to someone who calls you on the phone. Never share your social security number, bank account numbers, credit card information or birthdate with anyone who calls you.

For more information on Medicare you can call 1-800-633-4227 or go to www.medicare.gov   TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048. As always, you can contact me at cbranagan@leg.state.vt.us. 

Rep. Carolyn Branagan
Franklin-1, Fairfax/Georgia
Vermont House of Representatives

Announcements / Re: Branagan/DiBona Engagement
« on: August 27, 2012, 07:52:39 AM »

Thanks very much for putting this up on the site. Our household is very busy making plans for Amy's October wedding. It's a very happy time for her and for us. Thanks again.

Carolyn Branagan

Political Issues/Comments / fiscal 2012 closeout
« on: July 26, 2012, 07:35:29 PM »
Press reports have been fairly accurate in relating FY2012 year end balances for Vermont's revenues and expenditures. I'd like to fill in some of the gaps.

It's  true that preliminary results show Vermont closed the fiscal year with revenues  exceeding the General Fund  forecast by about $7 million. As I've written all year,  it  was the strength in Corporate Tax  revenues that  really helped  create  that $7 million overage along with the fact that the Sales/Use tax came in on target as did the Rooms/Meals tax. Personal income tax was on target, but withholding was weak, meaning  the future  earning power  for  Vermonters  is  uncertain. Property Transfer  tax is  below  estimates, because sales  are slower than expected.The Transportation Fund was around $3.4  million below forecast. The Transportation Fund is always a hard one to predict and for a long time we have been lowering estimates  to come up with a  realistic goal for tax revenue in this  Fund.  There were shortfalls again in the Gasoline tax, Purchase/Use tax and also fee receipts. None of the revenue  sources that feed the Transportation Fund keep up with demand growth. The Education Fund was $300,000 behind estimates, not including Property tax. Pennies are still being counted, but these  figures are fairly reliable. 

It's  tough to predict where revenues will come from and legislators  and fiscal officers  spend a ton of time trying to get an accurate picture. Wants and needs are never ending for state government. Somebody in Montpelier can always think up a place to put extra  money, so the real work is done by the folks who figure out revenue. How much revenue will come in to a large extent determines how much will be spent out. I do my  best to  make sure the revenue estimates are realistic.  So this year we were lucky. There was $7million more revenue than expected at the end of the year. All of the overage will be used to rebuild state buildings in fiscal 2013. It's true that the $7 million looks good sitting in the state checkbook, but honestly I think the economy looks  weaker than it did in January.

Shortly we'll start thinking about building next year's budget. Early FY14 realities are : 
*Federal changes will create a $20 million  hole  in Vermont's  Medicaid share.
*There will be strong need to add over $8 million in heating funds for low income  families and seniors.
* Vermonters will have to deal with the $120 million likely FEMA shortfall. Don't get  me started,  I'd like to resist the temptation to go on a long rant about that.

We are in an election year and that creates the tendency in some camps to soften end of year fiscal news, but the truth is the economy still is not good. I don't see a safe time to  loosen up spending at all in the next year and FY 14  will be tight too.   

Rep. Carolyn Branagan
Franklin-1, Fairfax/Georgia
Vermont House of Representatives

Political Issues/Comments / Working Lands
« on: July 10, 2012, 10:01:03 AM »
Last month Act 142, the Working Lands Enterprise/Farm and Forest bill was signed into law. That's the new law designed to strengthen the agricultural foundation of our state economy. I was an original sponsor of the bill, but many worked hard to make sure it could become law including Franklin County's Rep. Norm McAllister. Without his help in the House Agriculture committee, the bill never would have survived.  This bill created the first and only new program in state government since the 2008 recession and will invest and aid farm, forest and value-added entrepreneurs.

Already things are happening. The Working Lands Enterprise Fund is being organized and board members are being appointed. It's exciting to see work underway. The final appropriation was $1,175,000 and the money is being used well.  Money available for this work should increase to about $15 million, a level of investment big enough to create new businesses, jobs, and improve infrastructure.

The Vermont Council on Rural Development with capable Paul Costello at the helm is focusing on these goals:

*Renew the Working Landscape Campaign for the next year.

*Celebrate the leadership of the administration and the progress and successes of the Working Landscape Enterprise Fund and Board.

*Reach out to farm, forest and value added leaders to encourage them to think ahead and advance innovative applications to the fund.

*Build public support to extend and increase funding for working lands enterprises through the fund into the next Legislative session.

 By fall you'll be hearing more, so stay tuned for updates. Remember to contact me at cbranagan@leg.state.vt.us  I want to hear from you.

 Rep. Carolyn Branagan

Political Issues/Comments / Re: Re-districting
« on: July 10, 2012, 09:58:43 AM »
I remain the elected representative until someone else is sworn in. Most likely that will be the first Wednesday in January, 2013.  I believe three candidates have filed to be elected as state representative for the new Franklin-2 legislative district, which is the town of Fairfax. I have filed to represent the Franklin-1 district, the town of Georgia and my name will appear on the ballot for the Primary election in Georgia. As I've told the school board and the select board in Fairfax, if there are any issues they'd like me to help them with I will give it my all.  I continue to be in touch with town leaders in Fairfax. I love my job as state representative and continue to work hard at it every day. I've enjoyed   getting to know the fine people in the town of Fairfax. I could go on and on. 

The bottom line is,  I'm still on the job until early January.  And don't forget, the Franklin County delegation is very close and we all work for the entire  county. So after January, I hope Fairfax people will call me if they think I can be  helpful for them in Montpelier.

Best wishes to all,  Carolyn

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