Category Archives: Budget

Five Joint Public Hearings on the Governor’s Proposed FY 2017 State Budget – Monday, February 15th

The Vermont House and Senate Committees on Appropriations are seeking public input on the FY2017 proposed State budget and will hold five joint public hearings Monday, February 15, 2016, 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. at 5 locations across the State. For further information, please go to: http://www.leg.state.vt.us/jfo/appropriations/fy_2017/Community-Based%20Joint%20Public%20Hearings%20on%20FY2017%20Budget%20-%20Site%20List.pdf .

The Committees will take testimony on the Governor’s FY 2017 State budget proposal at that time. Anyone interested in testifying should come to one of the hearings. Time limits on testimony may apply depending on volume of participants.

To view or print a copy of the proposed budget, go to the Department of Finance and Management’s website at: http://finance.vermont.gov/state_budget/rec.

For more information about the format of these events, or to submit written testimony, call Theresa Utton-Jerman or Rebecca Buck, Joint Fiscal Office, 802-828-5767 or toll-free 1-800-322-5616; or e-mail: tutton@leg.state.vt.us or rbuck@leg.state.vt.us. Requests for interpreters should be made to the office by 3:00 p.m. on Monday, February 1, 2016.

Public Budget Forums to Receive Public Comments on the FY 2017 State Budget Development

The Agency of Administration Department of Finance and Management is holding two public webinars to discuss the FY 17 state budget on November 23, 2015:

Secretary of Administration, Justin Johnson announced two open- to- the public webinars to discuss the FY 17 State budget on November 23, 2015. In accordance with Act 162 Sec E.100.1 of the 2012 session, public participation is required with the “development of budget goals, as well as general prioritization and evaluation of spending and revenue initiatives.”

This year’s meetings will be held through a webinar to allow for the public to provide input. As was the case last year, this year we will discuss different areas of state government at two separate meetings. On November 23rd at 1:00pm-3:00pm we will discuss Human Services. On November 23rd from 4:00pm to 6:00pm we will discuss General Government such as Education, Public Safety and Transportation.

The webinar will consist of brief introductory remarks by Secretary of Administration Justin Johnson, a short FY 2017 fiscal update with the remainder of the time devoted to questions and comments from the attendees taken through, previously submitted statements, phone calls and chat discussions. We appreciate your participation in the development of budget goals and prioritization and evaluation of spending and revenue initiatives for the State Budget. To assist the Finance and Management Department with prioritization and evaluation of spending and revenue initiatives, we are asking the public to answer a quick survey found at the link provided: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/P96RQNB

The webinar will consist of brief introductory remarks by Secretary of Administration Justin Johnson followed by a short FY 2017 fiscal update. The remainder of the webinar will consist of reviewing questions and comments from the attendees taken through previously submitted statements, phone calls and chat discussions.

This year we will accept written testimony on the public’s priorities. Please address to Secretary Justin Johnson with the subject Public Budget Development FY 17 on the envelope. 109 State Street, 5th Floor, Montpelier VT 05609-5901.

You may e-mail Aimee Pope for additional questions at aimee.pope@vermont.gov with the title Public Budget Meeting in the subject line.

To register for the Human Services webinar please go to https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3100977203441651970

To register for the General Government webinar please go to:
https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2557553477018185730

For more information, visit the link here (PDF File).

Record Cold Plays Havoc With Emergency Housing Budget

This week, VT Digger reported more on the strain that this year’s winter weather has put on the emergency housing budget. Read the article below or click here to view on their website:

In February, temperatures dropped to minus 19 degrees at the Burlington International Airport, breaking a record that stood since 1914.

Vermont set more troubling records this winter as well — the most consecutive nights where a cold weather exemption gave homeless people in the state access to emergency housing.

For 69 days, from Dec. 29 to March 8, every county in the state met the requirement for a cold weather exemption. When temperatures drop below 20 degrees, or below 32 degrees with snow or freezing rain, the state relaxes the eligibility requirements for emergency housing.

That’s the longest streak of statewide cold weather exemptions since the program’s implementation three years ago.

At the same time, the number of people, especially families, who are homeless and seeking emergency shelter from the cold has also increased, according to state officials. Their ranks well exceed the capacity of warming shelters, and the state is housing homeless Vermonters in hotel rooms.

The state approved $3.4 million to cover 36,314 hotel nights through the end of February; 8,942 were for the people who qualified under the cold weather exemption, at a cost of $1.5 million. Virtually all that money is spent on hotel and motel lodgings. Those numbers may come down as sometimes people approved for a hotel stay don’t show, and it can take up to two months for the state to receive bills from participating hotels.

The amount that has been approved already exceeds the $3.2 million in the current budget for emergency housing. That appropriation includes an additional $600,000 from the Budget Adjustment Act — and it does not include March, which has had a number of cold weather nights in many areas of the state.

“Based on our current spending we are going to be over budget,” said Sean Brown, deputy commissioner of economic services for the Department for Children and Families. “We are going to have to re-evaluate our budget for the program and find a new way forward.”

Appropriating more money for the current budget would require approval from the Emergency Board, a panel chaired by the governor and consisting of the chairs of the Legislature’s money committees.

Even with the opening of a new 20-bed warming shelter at the old Ethan Allen Club in Burlington, the highest demand area, costs continue to mount. That shelter has run at overflow capacity since opening in early February, housing between 24 and 28 people per night, according to Brown.

It still hasn’t been enough to keep up with demand, and costs continue to mount.

“Given the growth in the need in the program, that didn’t put a huge dent in spending,” Brown said.

Next year, the state will open a 52-bed shelter in downtown Burlington, which will help reduce costs Brown said, but at the same time, the governor’s proposed budget cuts $300,000 from the program in anticipation of those savings.

A dramatic rise in homelessness is driving the need for emergency housing. Requests for housing were up 64 percent through December, and the state provided 50 percent more hotel rooms per night. More families are seeking shelter, and there has been a 144 percent increase in the number of children who received housing through the cold weather exemption.

The events that lead to homelessness are varied and often unique to the individual or their family. Still, advocates point to the rise in substance abuse disorders, especially opiate addiction, stagnant wages and a lack of affordable housing in the state as a few of the underlying causes.