This week is teachers’ appreciation week and I want to take the time to thank all our educators in the state for everything they do day in and day out. Our schools are very fortunate to have our educators teaching and getting our next generation ready for the world! The Agency of Education came around to get some pictures of legislators thanking our teachers and I was very happy to join. I encourage everyone to reach out to thank a teacher today!
We are finally in the home stretch. What this means is the Vermont State Legislature is trying to adjourn by Friday, May 13th and all the bills are being passed out of committee and being debated on the Floor. Our last agenda item will be to finally pass a budget. We have already had a few late nights getting home well after 9pm, interrupting baseball practices with the kids!
One of the hardest parts of serving in the legislature are the late nights and time away from family. The drive alone takes two hours per day, so when the end of the session comes there is a slight sigh of relief. I do however take a lot of pride in serving St. Albans and I love the work I am able to do while serving my constituents. I am happy to announce I am currently coaching two youth baseball teams for my 5 and 7-year-old boys at night, so the quicker we adjourn the more time I will have coaching and less money the state spends to keep legislators in Montpelier.
On the House Floor we have spent time presenting and debating bills, voting them out to get over to the Senate. We have seen a lot of different town charter changes, the pupil weighting bill, and we even passed out House Education’s miscellaneous ed bill. Tuesday alone we passed over 15 bills. I was fortunate enough to report a few sections of the miscellaneous ed bill, focusing on sections 5-7 which deal with reports by the Agency of Education on a universal kindergarten age of enrollment, universal school calendar, and standards for remote learning.
The final bill on all minds in the legislature is the budget. The budget is the only must pass bill and once it is passed, we adjourn. I have some serious reservations regarding this budget that is the largest in our state’s history at $8.1 billion. Using one-time Federal funds, we were able to extend services and programs to help a lot of Vermonters. Governor Scott has expressed very openly his concerns with this budget, and I must agree with him on a few of those concerns.
The Governor’s original budget proposal in January included more money to communities around the state, and the budget as passed by the Senate cuts a lot of relief money for seniors, childcare workers, nurses, young Vermonters, and many more. Some of these cuts are to our rural communities needing expanded cell service and to small businesses. I am hopeful that the conference committee with the House and Senate can fix some of these issues. You can follow our work in the House by following my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/caseytoofvt, my Twitter @toofy26, and if anyone needs to reach me, they can always reach me via email at [email protected].