Gov. Scott's Budget Address

Last Tuesday, Governor Phil Scott gave a near empty State House his budget address which looks to spend a hefty $7.7 billion using both State and Federal Funds. Most participants from the House and Senate opted to receive his address from the comforts of their own homes as the Governor laid out his budget from a Zoom screen. We continue to legislate in a hybrid model that makes it hard for those of us meeting in the Legislature.

Workforce Development

Workforce and housing issues have been troublesome for the state since the pandemic hit in 2020. Local businesses have suffered over the last year finding staff and keeping their doors open. The Governor spoke about spending $8.5 million to recruit workers to move to Vermont. We have more job openings than people to fill them, and I agree this should be in our top priorities going forward. Like he has said repeatedly: “we don’t need new taxes, we need new taxpayers."

Childcare is another issue facing the state and facing my family as well. As the father of two young children who are in childcare this issue really hits home to me as well as my wallet. Governor Scott said with his budget he could save a family of four around $3,000 a year by allocating $12 million to childcare programs. Good, high-quality childcare is often expensive and is contributing to the staffing shortages by forcing families to make a tough decision to stay home and save or pay the money.

Being on House Education we have heard a lot of testimony regarding the Education Fund. Currently we have a $90 million surplus in the Education Fund going forward. The Governor feels this money should be partly paid back to the taxpayers of Vermont in the form of $45 million worth of property tax rebates. The other $45 million he would like to be seen spent to our twelve career technical centers to help improve technical education across the state.
Schools have also seen a lot of Federal funds in the form of ESSER money (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds). Around $400 million was allocated to our schools across Vermont. This has helped local districts the ability to strengthen services as well as after school services.

The healthcare industry has suffered as well during this pandemic. That is why the Governor is looking to allocate $25 million to support hospitals and providers. He also is asking to allocate $1 million to strengthen suicide prevention services. Another $8 million is to expand opioid services and job placement programs.
Climate Change

Climate change is another priority the legislature is going to focus on in 2022. The Governor included $216 million to help combat climate change and improve infrastructure around Vermont. His goal with this large sum of money is to improve weatherization and reduce emissions. He also mentioned $72 million to improving water & sewer infrastructure which will help in the effort to clean our lakes. Another $95 million of ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds will be used toward high-speed internet and improve connectivity in the state.

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