End Session Legislative Report - 2022 - the good news
It has been an honor to represent you and advocate for the district’s priorities at the statehouse. Thanks to federal stimulus funds and surplus revenues, we made historic investments in the health, well-being and economic security of Vermont's families and small businesses, including:
A Balanced State Budget
We passed a record $8 billion budget, using federal stimulus funds and state surpluses, that makes transformational investments in housing, broadband, childcare, workforce development, climate change, and mental health services. A detailed summary of the budget and supporting documents can be found at the Joint Fiscal Office website https://ljfo.vermont.gov. It truth there is so much information available on the JFO website, I’d encourage you to follow the link above and explore.
Continuing toward the State goal of providing affordable, high-speed internet to every household, we dedicated $246M to building out the state’s broadband infrastructure which will be supplemented by an additional $100+ million from the Infrastructure Investment Jobs Act funds in the next year. Our district is well served by ECFiber, and remaining gaps in coverage are finally being filled in.
Affordable Childcare and Child Tax Credit
We are expanding the childcare subsidy for working families and providing retention bonuses, scholarships, loan repayment, and stronger support for early educators and childcare providers. We are also providing a Child Tax Credit of $1,000 per qualifying children to replace the federal Covid child tax credit that expired recently. This tax credit will be ongoing, not something that disappears next July 1st.
We've allocated $55M to the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board to build more homes. Another $22M will subsidize starter homes for middle-income families and manufactured housing. And $20M more will support the Vermont Housing Improvement Program, which offers grants to landlords for fixing code-violating rental properties. Due to the availability of federal funds, the legislature worked with the Administration to create of substantially increase funding for many housing programs. Visit https://accd.vermont.gov/housing to review programs and funding parameters and to find contacts that can help you.
We’re investing $215M into climate initiatives — including $80M for weatherization, $45M for a municipal energy resilience program, $8M for advanced metering and over $60M for other electrification initiatives.
Vermont State Colleges
The Vermont State Colleges System is becoming Vermont State University, with 5 campuses organized under a single president and with a integrated curriculum and unified degree programs. The unified Vermont State University continues to serve and graduate well educated students prepared to fill our ever expanding workforce needs. The majority of enrollees are first generation college students. The the State budget provides a $10M increase in base appropriation, as well as $15M in one-time cash to serve as a “bridge” in their ongoing transition to fiscal and operational stability.
The Annual Transportation Bill invests $860M in infrastructure like paving, bridges, walking and biking paths, electric vehicle charging equipment and municipal and public transportation systems. It also funds programs to help low- and moderate-income Vermonter purchase efficient and electric cars.
S.11 expands programs to increase workforce participation and sustain workers in nursing, mental health care, childcare and the trades. These programs offer scholarships, forgivable loans, education, training and internship programs. The bill supports Covid-related sick leave, economic development tax credits, sector-specific recovery assistance, and other economic development programs that serve businesses and municipalities.
Stable Public Pensions
S.286, the public worker pension bill, contributes $200 million in one-time surplus revenues to our public pension while teachers and state employees will increase and restructure their contributions and accept a small adjustment to cost-of-living increases. In all, these changes will eliminate $2 billion of unfunded liability and ensure retirement security and healthcare certainty for retired teachers, state employees and troopers for years to come.
We are expanding the childcare subsidy for working families and providing retention bonuses, scholarships, loan repayment, and stronger support for early educators and childcare providers. The bill supports Covid-related sick leave, economic development tax credits, sector-specific recovery assistance, and other economic development programs that serve businesses and municipalities.
This bill passed both House and Senate unanimously, was vetoed by Governor Scott and the veto override votes were unanimous as well.
Act 250 Reform
S.234 modernizes Act 250 to better serve the needs of today’s businesses and communities by incentivizing priority housing projects, modernizing permit conditions and reducing fees for the forest products industry. It adds protections for forest blocks, updates the governance structure to make the process more consistent and timely, and requests a report recommending changes to accessory on-farm businesses regulations.
S.287 updates the school funding formula so that all schools have equitable access to taxing capacity and can provide what they need for all students to succeed.
After a four-year, deliberate and inclusive legislative process, the House passed Proposal 5, the Reproductive Liberty Amendment. If ratified by the voters in November, Prop 5 will enshrine reproductive liberty into our state’s constitution, ensuring that these rights are preserved for future generations.
Every ten years, after the U.S. Census is taken, Vermont must adjust legislative districts to accurately reflect any changes in population. Based on these recommendations from the Legislative Apportionment board and local communities, the legislature created new House and Senate district maps to provide equal representation for all Vermonters. The maps for the districts can be found here.
There will be further posts in the coming weeks on specific topics that are beyond the availability of space on these short pages. If you don’t find what you’re looking for here, contact me for further information. I look forward to your calls.