State News

Lawmakers make alterations in $31 million budget cuts

By Anne Galloway,

MONTPELIER—A legislative panel has come to an agreement with the Shumlin administration on $31.28 million in cuts to the state budget.

Lawmakers approved a rescission that will remove a 1.6 percent increase in Medicaid reimbursements for health care providers, saving the state about $10 million.

The 10-member Joint Fiscal Committee initially rejected Gov. Peter Shumlin’s proposal and asked the administration to find more money for disability services and elder care.  They also insisted on restoration of funding for a program that helps mentally ill young adults.

Lawmakers insisted that the funding should come from the Vermont Enterprise Fund and a carry-forward in Medicaid funding.  The enterprise fund was originally set at $4.5 million and was designed to provide an incentive to maintain the presence of a large employer in the state.

Jim Reardon, the commissioner of the Department of Finance and Management, told lawmakers that the governor wasn’t happy about transferring money out of the fund, but he agreed to shift $706,000 to disability and elder care services.

The state’s community designated agencies, which provide services to mentally ill and disabled Vermonters, will see a reduction of at least $5 million.

The governor is seeking to reduce the state’s drug and alcohol program by about $673,000.  The proposed cuts eliminate a financial incentive payment for substance abuse treatment providers and carry through the level funding of Medicaid reimbursements.

The Shumlin administration also proposes to rescind a 1 percent increase to appropriations for the University of Vermont, the Vermont Student Assistance Corp. and the Vermont State Colleges.

Working landscape grants would be reduced by about $280,000 under the plan.

The state no longer needs to spend $500,000 on the All-Felon DNA program because the Vermont Supreme Court recently determined that taking a DNA sample from a suspect before he or she is convicted is unconstitutional.

The Shumlin administration will not fill vacancies in state government, including a seat on the Superior Court.  Seven open state trooper positions will not be filled for a savings of $500,000.

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