• Tim Briglin

Budget Adjustment Act

It’s budget adjustment time at the Statehouse and the choices legislators are faced with in making cuts are never good. By way of background, Vermont’s fiscal year runs from July 1st to June 30th. We are currently a little more than halfway through fiscal year 2015. Because Vermont balances its state budget every year, when the legislature comes back in session in January, if it looks as if the budget is headed toward a deficit for the year, we look for spending cuts to plug the gap.

The news in early-January was that the budget gap for the current year would be approximately $12 million (on top of $22 million in cuts already made in August). While programmatic spending levels have been in line with expectations, receipts from income tax collections are down. Some of the headlines from the budget adjustment included reductions in the Low Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP), maintaining extended judgeship vacancies, and cutting state spending on Medicaid programs. While LIHEAP and Medicaid cuts feel draconian – these are programs that help some of our most vulnerable citizens – the cuts were made easier because applications for assistance were less than expected when the original 2015 budget was adopted. The extended judgeship vacancies are concerning because they are leading to significant delays in our criminal justice system.

An adjustment in the 2015 budget that is receiving much attention relates to funding for the build out and maintenance of Vermont Health Connect (the “Exchange”). The original 2015 budget called for $11.1 million; the budget adjustment provided an additional $3.5 million of state funds. While there have been some improvements in the operation of the Exchange, I am being diplomatic in describing the legislature’s confidence in the cost controls and efficacy of this project as “shaken.” I will have more to share regarding the Exchange in a future post.

As challenging as this budget adjustment was, it was a mere warmup act relative to the massive budget challenges Vermont will face in the coming year. The most recent estimate is that we will need to fill a $112 million budget gap relative to current spending and tax levels. With a general fund budget of $1.4 billion, covering an 8% deficit is going to be a massive undertaking. This is Vermont’s “structural deficit,” another topic for a future post.

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Best ways to reach Tim:

tbriglin@leg.state.vt.us

tim@tuckermancapital.com

Cell: (802) 384-8256

Home: (802) 785-2414

Best ways to reach Jim:

jmasland@leg.state.vt.us

jamesq56@yahoo.com

Home: (802) 785-4146

    About    

 

Jim Masland and Tim Briglin were elected to represent the Windsor-Orange 2 district towns of Norwich, Sharon, Strafford, and Thetford in the Vermont House of Representatives.  Their current two-year term is for 2019-2020.

 

Jim Masland is serving his eleventh term in the Statehouse and is a member of the Ways & Means Committee.

 

Tim Briglin is serving his third term in the Statehouse and is the Chair of the Energy & Technology Committee.

 

You can find Jim and Tim's seats in the General Assembly by clicking here.  Their seat numbers are #82 and #93, respectively.

 

The Vermont State Legislature's website has a tremendous amount of information.  On the site, you will find information about all state representatives and state senators, bills and resolutions that have been introduced, hearing schedules and reports for House and Senate Committees, information about visiting the Statehouse, links to Vermont Statutes and Vermont's Constitution, and links to other branches of state government.

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