Sen. Becca Balint, Windham

District: Windham (Map)
Party: Democrat
Contact Information:
271 South Main St.
Brattleboro, VT 05301
bbalint@leg.state.vt.us
Websitebeccabalint.com
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EAI Roll Call Profiles provide a record of how legislators voted on key issues. The profiles are designed to be an educational tool, giving insight into the kinds of policies each representative supports and opposes. These bills did not necessarily become law.


 2017 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

$5.83 Billion FY18 Budget/$8 Million Property Tax Increase (H.518). Passed 30-0 on April 26, 2017. The “Big Bill” sets the total state budget, including federally funded projects, at $5.83, which represents a spending increase of 1.3 percent over the current year. The state funded portion of total spending is set at $2.48 billion, an increase of 0.7 percent. This Senate version of the budget transferred an $8 million obligation to teacher retirement into the state Education Fund, which would require a 0.8 cent increase in the non-residential property tax rate. BALINT – YES

Create Statewide Teachers’ Healthcare Contract/$26 Million in Property Tax Savings (H.518). Passed 22-6 on May 3, 2017.  This is a tricky roll call to analyze. At face value, the bill sets state budget for FY18. However, the vote became a symbolic referendum on Governor Phil Scott’s proposal to save a potential $26 million in property taxes by restructuring how teachers negotiate and receive health insurance benefits. Those voting YES supported the budget, which was met with no new taxes or fees, opposed the Governors proposal property tax savings, or both. Those voting NO supported the Governor’s proposal and thought it should have been adopted as part of the overall budgeting process. BALINT – YES

Legalize Growing/Possessing Marijuana, Sets Stage for Retail Sales/Taxation (S.22). Passed 22-9 on May 5, 2017. S.22 was originally a fentanyl regulation bill repurposed to be a vehicle for passage of marijuana legalization. It would remove all criminal penalties for adults 21 or older who possess up to an ounce of marijuana, and allow growing up to two mature and two immature marijuana plants per household, and would go into effect in 2018. The bill also sets up a commission that will create a framework for taxing and regulating retail sales of marijuana. Those voting YES support legalization of marijuana; those voting NO oppose it. BALINT – YES

Raise Legal Smoking Age to 21 (S.88) Failed 13-16 on April 25, 2017. Those voting YES were in favor of raising the legal smoking age to 21, those voting NO opposed the measure. BALINT – YES

Eliminate Parental Rights In Regard to Gender Identity Related Mental Health Counseling for Minors (H.230). Passed 24-6 on April 21, 2017. This bill proposed to allow minors (under the age of 18) to “consent to mental health treatment for any condition related to the minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity,” including counseling and psychotherapy. These services would be paid for by the child’s school or, it that is impractical, another agency. Those voting YES think this is a good idea. Those voting NO see it as a violation and usurpation of parental rights. BALINT – YES


 Re-Elected, November 2017


 

2016 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

$5.8 Billion FY17 Budget (H.875). Passed 23-5 on March 24, 2016. Those voting YES on this bill approved a total $5.76 billion state budget for FY17, including $47.1 million in new spending. This represents a total increase of 2.7 percent over FY16 (not accounting for adjustments that will occur in the next legislative session.) The $1.47 billion general fund portion of the budget, however, increases by 4.8 percent, while revenue is projected to grow at just 2.2%. This budget also leaves an estimated $30 million hole for the FY18 budget. Those voting NO argued that continuing the trend of spending taxpayer dollars faster than revenue comes into the treasury is unsustainable and irresponsible. BALINT – YES

Adjust FY16 Budget Upward by $91.8 Million (H.611). Passed 25-4 on February 10, 2016. Those voting YES voted in favor of increasing spending for FY16 by a total of $91.8 million (raising the previously accepted state budget to $5.6 billion, a 2.5% increase over FY15), $12.3 million of which is represents increases in General Fund spending (raising total General Fund Spending to $1.48 billion, a 5% increase over FY15). Those voting NO opposed these spending increases on the grounds that the state cannot continue to spend money faster than revenue is coming in, and that continuing to do so is causing a structural deficit. BALINT – YES

$38 Million in New Miscellaneous Taxes (H.873) Passed 22-6 on April 26, 2016. Those voting YES approved $38 million worth of new taxes. These include stringent enforcement of the 9% rooms and meals tax on private, short term rentals such as those contracted through AirBnB, And increases the fuel gross receipts on heating oil, propane, kerosene, dyed diesel, and coal to 0.75%. Those voting NO opposed these tax increases. BALINT – YES

Mandate Paid Sick Leave (H.187), Passed 21-8, February 3, 2016. Those voting YES supported a de facto tax on mostly small/micro businesses. According to the Joint Fiscal Office, “the total cost to employers of extending sick leave coverage to Vermont workers to be approximately $3.6 to $8.2 million dollars from the effective date until December 31, 2017 and between $6.2 and $14.3 million dollars annually thereafter.” Those voting NO opposed placing another costly mandate on Vermont businesses. BALINT – YES

Block Paid Sick Leave Exemption for Small Businesses (H.187, Senate Amendment), Passed 15-14, February 10, 2016. Those voting YES on the Senate Amendment to the Campion Amendment ensured that businesses of five or fewer employees will be subject to the paid sick leave mandate, and want to study the impact of the mandate on those businesses. Those voting NO supported an exemption from the paid sick leave mandate for businesses with five or fewer employees. BALINT – YES

Repeal Act 46 Spending Caps (S.233), passed 28-1, January 20, 2016. Those voting YES supported removing entirely the allowable growth thresholds (spending caps) from Act 46 (the Education Consolidation law passed in 2015), either because they believed the spending restrictions were too harsh, or because errors that ocuured in implementing the law made it unfair to apply the caps. Those voting NO believed the spending caps were the only cost control measures in Act 46, and should be left in place to put downward pressure on property taxes. BALINT – YES

Give Towns Some Say Over Renewable Energy Siting, But State Maintains Ultimate Control (S.230), Passed 22-3, March 31, 2016. Those voting YES on this bill agreed to give towns “substantial deference” when it comes to siting renewable energy projects, provided the towns sign onto the state’s vision for renewable energy development and jump through several hoops to qualify for the deference. Those voting NO on the believed it did not go far enough in giving local communities a true veto over the siting of these projects. BALINT – YES

Legalize Marijuana (S.241), Passed 16-13, February 24, 2016. Those voting YES on this this bill supported legalizing marijuana in the state of Vermont for citizens over 21, taxing sales of marijuana at 25%, prohibiting “home grown” marijuana as well as edible forms of the product. The law would establish a small number of licenses to grow and distribute marijuana (30 retail outfits), which would cost in total $20 million in fees to obtain. Under this bill, Vermonters would be allowed to buy half an ounce of the product, and out of state residents would be allowed a quarter of an ounce. The law would take effect in January 2018.Those voting NO did so on the grounds that this sends the wrong message to Vermont youth while we are in the midst of a greater drug addiction crisis in the state, and the fact that several law enforcement issues have not been solved, such as how do we detect and prosecute driving under the influence and implications for job related drug testing. BALINT – NO

2015 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

$36 Million Tax Increase (H.489). Passed 22-7, April 30, 2015. This bill is the principal revenue-raising vehicle to fund the FY2016 budget. Those voting YES approved $36 million in new and increased taxes on Vermonters by limiting Vermonters’ home mortgage deductions to 12%, disallowing charitable deductions to out of state organizations or those that do not serve Vermonters, levying a 2.5% tax increase on satellite TV and expanding Vermont’s 6% sales tax to sweetened beverages. BALINT – YES

$14 Million Property Tax Increase (H.361). Passed 27-3, May 7, 2015. Those voting YES on this bill approved an estimated $14 million increase in school property taxes, setting the statewide homestead property tax rate at $1.59 per $100.00 for nonresidential property $1.00 multiplied by the district education property tax spending adjustment for the municipality for homestead property. The bill also creates a formula for financial incentives for districts to consolidate into Pre-K- 12 districts of no fewer than 900 students. It is highly debatable as to whether or not such consolidation will save money for taxpayers, and those voting NO see this legislation as a threat to small schools and local control. BALINT – YES

Mandates 75% of Electric Sales Be From “Renewables” by 2032. (H.40). Passed 22-6, May 15, 2015. H.40 had many facets to it. It repealed the SPEED program and replaced it with a new RESET program, enabling Vermont utilities’ to continue to sell some Renewable Energy Credits. It also mandated that utilities have 75% of their electricity portfolio come from renewable sources by 2032. This, of course, is a mandate on customers to buy the more expensive renewables, and a requirement that more renewable electricity projects be built (25 megawatts per year). This many wind towers and solar facilities will have a negative impact on Vermont’s scenic landscape. BALINT – YES

Allow Towns “Substantial Deference” When Siting Renewable Power Facilities (H.40, KITCHELL ET AL AMENDMENT). Failed 10-19, May 15, 2015. The Kitchell Amendment would have given “substantial deference” to local municipal conservation planning when considering the siting of a renewable energy generating facility. Those voting YES gave deference to local community planning in regard to siting renewable energy facilities. Those voting NO supported allowing minimal influence by towns when determining siting decisions and to prioritize renewable energy development over conservation. BALINT – NO

Restrict Firearms Ownership for Some Felons/Mentally Ill Citizens (S.141) Passed 20-8, March 25, 2015. Those voting YES on the bill believe this measure will work to keep guns out of the hands of violent felons, thereby reducing violent crime. Those voting NO believe the measures will not reduce crime or improve gun safety, citing the fact that the legislation is redundant (federal legislation is already in place to police these situations), and unnecessary — a “solution in search of a problem” – as Vermont’s existing gun laws have earned Vermont the lowest violent crime rate per capita in the nation, according to the FBI. BALINT – YES

Allow Same Day Voter Registration (S.29) Passed 20-7, March 26, 2015. Those voting YES on S.29 would allow an individual to both register to vote and to vote on the same day (election day). Those voting NO believe this to be an invitation to voter fraud as there is not adequate opportunity for either the Town Clerk or other election monitors to verify that the persons registering to vote on election day are who they say they are, or are legal residents of where they claim to live. BALINT – YES

Require Photo ID for Election Day Voter Registration (S.29, DEGREE AMENDMENT). Failed 7-21, April 1, 2015. The underlying bill, S.29, establishes “election day registration” to vote. (Ie, you can walk in off the streets on the first Tuesday of November, register to vote, vote, and leave). The Degree Amendment would have required those doing so to present a valid photo ID to prove they are who they say they are, and proof of residence such as an electric bill, pay stub, etc, to prove that they live where they say they live. Those voting YES on the Degree Amendment believe that requiring voters to prove who they are and that they live where they live will help prevent voter fraud, which is critical in a state like Vermont where elections are often determined by a handful of votes. Allowing election day registration without requiring mechanisms to verify who new registrants are or where they live is an invitation to voter fraud. Those voting NO cited that the prospect of voter fraud was not a compelling enough reason to pass the amendment. BALINT – NO

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