My Champlain Valley | February 28, 2017

Budget Discussions Continue in Montpelier

It's been more than a month since Governor Phil Scott's first budget address. Since then, committees for both the house and senate have been looking for ways to fill the gaps.

"I think the governor's team appreciates that the original budget as presented is not happening. Now the question is whether they can work with the legislature to come up with an alternative," said Sen. Tim Ashe, President Pro Tempore.

In January the governor level funded the state budget, education spending and also proposed making cuts to human services.

On Tuesday, the House Committee on Human Services held a hearing for advocates from across the state.

"We are problem solvers in the system and we help the system work better and that actually saves money it doesn't cost money," said Eric Avildsen, Vermont Legal Aid Executive.

Avildsen says proposed cuts will require his organization to foot a $44,000 bill for rent that will strain he and his staff.

Avildsen said, "And we will still have that cost come July 1 for next year and if this cut is made then I will have to reduce services because I will still have to pay the rent."

Ashe says there is a lot of work to do in the weeks ahead, but believes cutting programs may not be the answer.

"States that have both been dramatic in cutting programs and taxes as well as states that have been more generous and are viewed as high-taxed states are facing the same financial challenge that we are facing," explained Ashe.

From here the pressure in on as Town Meeting Day is only a week away, 'Crossover' will follow close behind on March 17th, the deadline for which bills must pass out of committee before moving on.