Shumlin Creates Anti-Poverty Council, Budget Will Include Added Funding For Low Income Programs

Governor Peter Shumlin announced yesterday he will propose additional spending for anti-poverty programs in his upcoming budget to make up for some federal cuts. The governor also announced the creation of the Council on Pathways Out of Poverty, which will advise the Governor on programs impacting low income Vermonters. The council comes to being after meetings between the governor and a group of anti-poverty advocates and service providers which took place earlier this year.

VTDigger has more on yesterday’s announcement:

Flanked by administration officials, anti-poverty advocates and service providers, Shumlin stressed the importance of assisting the state’s most vulnerable people at a time when Congress and the federal government are cutting money that has long helped Vermonters pay rent, heat their homes and put food on the table.

“We’re at a time in our nation’s history where Congress is cutting back the resources that are so important to Vermonters who are struggling to make ends meet,” Shumlin said, adding those cuts deepen the hurt of a sluggish economy where wages remain stagnant.

He noted that 100,000 residents saw a reduction in federal food assistance recently and the state’s Section 8 affordable housing voucher program has shrunk by more than 10 percent. In addition there have been cuts in home heating fuel assistance subsidies, caused by sequestration and other budget negotiations in Washington.

Shumlin declined to give details on how these proposals, which cost a combined $2.55 million, would be paid for as part of a balanced budget when the state is facing a $70 million budget shortfall.

“The money’s coming from our budget. To tell you exactly where the money is coming from I’d have to tell you my budget, and I’m going to give you that on Jan. 15,” he told reporters.

Vermont Public Radio has some details on the Governor’s purposed budget:

  • $500,000 for the Vermont Rental Subsidy program (brings the total state funding to $1 million)
  • $300,000 for Emergency Solutions Grants to help operate emergency shelters. This will make up for a loss of $200,000 in federal money and add another $100,000.
  • An increase of $200,000 for case management and aid to families in need of housing.
  • $800,000 for STARS child care providers and subsidies to qualified families based on updated payment calculations.
  • $650,000 for substance abuse and mental health treatment services for the Reach Up program.

WCAX has video of some of yesterday’s press conference:

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