By Elizabeth Hewitt, VTDigger.org
Vermont lawmakers are facing down a budget gap of at least $112 million in the current fiscal year.
But even after they find a way to mend the 2016 budget, there’s more bad news ahead. The state will have to find at least $48.8 million to resolve funding gaps in FY 2017 and FY 2018, according to projections from the Joint Fiscal Office (JFO).
According to documents that Steve Klein, chief fiscal officer of the JFO, presented to the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday, it’s likely that lawmakers will call on one-time funds to balance the budget this year.
Those funds could help lawmakers close the gap in the FY2016 budget, but if they are used up this year, the state will not be able to fall back on those sources again.
“We need to figure out how to make structural changes that will produce savings next year,” Klein told lawmakers. He says many of the factors that will contribute to the state’s gap over the next few years are not yet clear.
Senator Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden, Finance Committee chair, asked Klein to present the long-term financial view, so that legislators can weigh the options for responsible ways to raise revenue and produce savings.
“Not only does it help us make better decisions, but it will not have us in crisis mode in 2016,” Ashe said.