Emergency food security plan, diversity $$ for towns, low-income localvore in state budget passed yesterday

By Guy Page

The $8 billion 2022-23 budget approved by the Vermont Legislature yesterday just prior to adjournment includes itemized funding for many “new and ongoing initiatives.” Edited for brevity below, these items appear in today’s House Journal, beginning on page 2506.

$220,000 is allocated to the Agency of Administration for the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Action, Leadership (IDEAL) VT initiative to support municipalities in promoting these values within their communities.

$37,000 to the Ethics Commission to support the cost of one halftime position.

$205,000 to the Sergeant at Arms for transitioning positions in the Capitol Police Department.

$1,283,400 to the Office of the Defender General to support costs associated with the reopening of the courts.

$700,000 to the Secretary of State as follows:

  • $450,000 for election support.
  • $250,000 to support operational expenditures not covered by revenue resulting from telehealth.

$2,408,000 to the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, including:

  • $1,000,000 to develop a program to pay farmers for quantified ecosystem services (i.e. pollution reduction).
  • $200,000 grant to assist low-income individuals access local, fresh, or whole food at farmers’ markets and through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares. This one-time appropriation will respond to the record demand in these fresh food access programs due to increased food insecurity experienced by Vermonters during the pandemic.
  • $420,000 for laboratory equipment to test for PFAS in drinking water.
  • $90,000 for grants to State fairs and field days organizations.
  • $300,000 of which $200,000 for grant program for organic milk farmers transitioning to a new buyer to assist with costs of modifications needed to accommodate the new buyer, and $100,000 to Produce Safety Improvement grant program.
  • $150,000 for contract  development of a State Food Security Action Plan that will include a strategy to improve the resilience of the statewide food system in order to better meet the food needs of citizens of Vermont during times of disruption to the national food distribution chain caused by emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

$1,512,636 to the Center for Crime Victims Services as follows:

  • $660,000 to replace shortfall in fines and fees from the courts and traffic tickets.
  • $519,600 to replace declining federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funds.
  • $308,036 for a grant to the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.
  • $25,000 to support Kurn Hattin Survivors.

$150,000 to the Criminal Justice Council for:

  • $100,000 for an incident simulator to enable de-escalation training.
  • $50,000 for the development of a new entrance exam.

$8,000,000 to the Department of Public Safety to provide state match for FEMA funds to purchase properties identified for high flood risk.

$1,180,000 to the Department for Children and Families:

  • $50,000 for Vermont Donor Milk Center for statewide activities.
  • $750,000 to the Parent Child Centers for upgrades to facilities, systems, or new equipment.
  • $180,000 for the Vermont Food Bank for statewide provision of diapers to families in need.
  • $200,000 for five youth service provider organizations (Youth Services Inc., St. Johnsbury Area Youth Services Bureau, Washington County Youth Services Bureau, Windsor County Youth Services, and Spectrum Youth and Family Services.

$3,645,250 for Substance Use Disorder Prevention Investment within the Agency of Human Services.

  • $3,000,000 to the Department of Health, Office of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs for a grant to the substance Misuse Prevention Coalitions. It is the intent of the General Assembly that funding for the Substance Misuse Prevention Coalitions be funded with one-time general funds until funds from the cannabis excise tax revenues become available.
  • $100,000 to the Department of Health, Office of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs for a grant to the Jenna’s House program, in addition to $400,000 of base funding.
  • $50,000 for a grant to the University of Vermont’s Comprehensive Care Clinic for HIV/AIDSfor increased mental health counseling.

$1,215,860 to the Agency of Education, including:

  • $500,000 for Child Nutrition Grants to help school districts purchase local foods.
  • $15,860 to the Vermont Ethnic and Social Equity Standards Advisory Working Group to cover per diem and reimbursement of expenses.
  • $700,000 to Adult Education and Literacy to provide grants to the Adult Learning Centers.
  • $67,000 to the Attorney General for the Court Diversion program to replace special fund shortfall.

$325,000 to the Agency of Natural Resources for the following:

  • $75,000 to the Central Office for contractual support to complete work associated with implementing the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2020.
  • $250,000 to the Department of Environmental Conservation to complete statewide wetland mapping updates and to update the Vermont Significant Wetland Inventory maps.

Other one-time or ongoing expenses include:

  • $130,000 to the Agency of Commerce and Community Development for a grant to the Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports program.
  • $500,000 for the Vermont Refugee Resettlement program to provide aid to refugees.
  • $267,364 to the Department of Taxes for appraisal and litigation costs associated with the Sheldon Springs Hydroelectric Dam.
  • $600,000 to the Department of Public Service for Public Access, Education, and Government Media to fund the 24 media centers.
  • $450,000 to the Vermont Historical Society for HVAC systems.
  • $50,000 to the Department of Buildings and General Services for the Mount Ascutney Regional Commission to hire a consultant to facilitate community discussions on the use of the former Southeast State Correctional Facility property in Windsor to enable work, education, and health monitoring; to create base maps; and to conduct a legal analysis.

$11,000,000 is appropriated from the General Fund to the Department of Public Safety for regional dispatch funding.

$10,000,000 to fund the fiscal year 2023 payroll assessment necessary to meet the State employees’ pension and other post-employment benefits resulting from any changes to these

programs enacted in the 2022 legislative session. The Commissioner shall report to the Joint Fiscal Committee at its November 2022 meeting on the status of this appropriation.

Guy Page is publisher of the Vermont Daily Chronicle. Reprinted with permission.

Image courtesy of Flickr/401kcalculator.org
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4 thoughts on “Emergency food security plan, diversity $$ for towns, low-income localvore in state budget passed yesterday

  1. First there was a baby food shortage, but now it looks like there will be shortages and PRICE INCREASES all over the place.

    EU and US policies are amounting to a war on fossil fuels, plus the Russian invasion of Ukraine, will contribute to a Worldwide food crisis

    Russia and Ukraine, together, produce half of the fertilizer used in the United States, and fertilizer prices have QUADRUPLED,

    However, the fourfold surge in fertilizer prices will affect African and European countries more severely than the United States, because the latter is currently more independent with regard to food.

    Both Ukraine and Russia are major producers of the world’s wheat and corn. Together, they account for about 29 percent of global wheat exports, 19 percent of global corn supply, and 80 percent of global sunflower oil exports.

    Moreover, the irrigation systems in southeastern Ukraine have been bombed and ports have been cut off.
    Mariupol, a port on the Azov Sea, has already been cut off
    Odesa, a Black Sea port, is next.
    That will land lock Ukraine, and prevent it from exporting.

    The biggest component of food cost is transportation, so the current Biden war on fossil fuels has made the United States no longer oil independent.

    Nitrogen-based fertilizers are made from natural gas, so the inane war on fossil fuels, and on energy independence impact the cost of fertilizers and food

    Coconut water, from Thailand, a can used to cost $1.44, but now the cost is $15 due to rising transportation cost

  2. They have created costs for the future that none of us have the money to pay for. None of these things were necessary or useful.

  3. It was not that many years ago that the VT budget was around $3 billion….for 623,000 people. Now the VT budget is $8.3 billion – for about 635,00 people? Do the math. It is unsustainable. VT ususally get’s about $2.4 billion free Gov’t money, annually. During covid, VT got an additional several billion dollars….BILLIONS came to VT. But that Gravy Train is over…Federal Gov’t is too much in debt….into trillions $.,…and my guess is that the House and Senate in DC will switch to Republican and they have no choice but to cut much of wasteful, purely political “feel good” spending.. But VT is now SO anxious to spend $8.3 billion (and will rise next year) for 635,000 people….it is INGRAINED & FIXED that people WILL expect their free & subsidized stuff. So if the Gov’t cuts back their billions of largess….WHO will make up the difference? VT will just seek to tax even more the 20% of Vermonters (upper incomes) who already pay 65% of all incomes taxes and most of the property taxes. 70% of Vermonters get THEIR property taxes SUBSIDZED (by others) because they are so high? What if many of the upper 20% leave? Who will pay then? Wait till you hear the Bernies & Progressives & Libs propose an annual VT WEALTH TAX …they have mentioned it before. THAT is when you will see a mass exodus of those who can leave. A wealth tax would turn VT to a full boat communist system.

  4. Is there a Department of Accountability to ensure all these funds are spent wisely?

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