Congratulations to the Democrats in the Vermont House of Representatives for coming up with a budget that got the support of all but one member who voted on it! The House Democratic Caucus made hard choices to protect Vermont families. This was not an easy budget process. It was made more difficult by the looming federal budget disaster. It was also made more difficult by Governor Scott. Following his defeat at the polls on Town Meeting Day, when 90 percent of school districts passed their budgets, Gov. Scott told his agency heads not to work with the House Appropriations Committee on closing the final $18 million gap. Ultimately, of the $72 million budget gap that the House started with, only $4.5 million was closed by taking the Governor’s suggestions. Unlike the Governor’s proposal, it doesn’t raise taxes or cost teachers’ jobs, and it protects local control over education financing.
The Democratic budget increases funding for all health care, including mental health care. It provides increases for home health agencies, crisis bed staffing, and more housing, and it creates a pilot program for geriatric psychiatric patients. It also cuts down on shipping Vermont inmates to out of state prisons. By increasing the use of electronic monitoring, we save money and reduce the amount of Vermonters kept in out of state prisons, thus improving the chance that they will retain family ties and rejoin society when released, instead of committing more crimes. Recognizing the advantages of this budget, all the Progressives present and all but one of the other members present joined all the Democrats in voting for it.
Herbert Ogden, Mt. Tabor