Scott administration takes issue with funding added to budget adjustment bill

By Brent Addleman | The Center Square

As legislation focusing on Vermont budget adjustments heads to the Senate, the Scott administration said areas of the bill need more consideration.

House Bill 145, known as the Budget Adjustment Act, was passed Feb. 3 by the state’s House of Representatives in a 107-33 vote. Kristin Clouser, secretary for the Agency of Administration, outlined portions of the bill the administration feels would be better served by discussion during the initial budgeting process.

Kristin Clouser, secretary of the Agency of Administration

The bill, Clouser said, features $57 million in one-time initiatives for municipal assistance grant funding, state-matching broadband grants, and the state’s housing program.

“Importantly each of these recommendations were evaluated simultaneous to our work on the full fiscal year 2024 budget,” Clouser said. “That means we considered all other priorities when making these decisions. The House passed budget adjustment, which the governor said will now be taken off by the Senate, includes all of the governor’s recommended adjustments to last year’s budget and the governor’s one-time initiatives.”

Clouser said the fiscal bill features “almost $90 million” in additional spending on various housing initiatives and investments.

“The administration also recognizes that several of the smaller investments added by the House should be considered by the Senate,” Clouser said. “However, despite significant agreement on both adjustments and one-time initiatives the administration is concerned about three sizable investments, which together exceed $80 million in new additional general fund spending.”

Clouser said she doesn’t believe the budget adjustment bill “is the best place for their consideration.”

A $50 million investment for the housing and conservation boards, Clouser said, is seen by the administration as a priority. However, the investments include funding for the Vermont Housing Conservation Board and the Vermont Housing Improvement Program, which is aimed at middle-income housing, and could take funding at the “expense of other diverse and essential housing investments.”

The second investment is $20.9 million that would be used to extend and expand the pandemic emergency housing program through June. Federal funding for the program will be expiring, she said.

The proposal, Clouser said, would use state funding to expand eligibility back to COVID-19 pandemic levels for assistance.

The third investment, Clouser said, is a $9.2 million investment into agriculture that would have funding go to organic dairy farms.

“The administration is acutely aware of the economic challenges facing Vermont’s agricultural sector,” Clouser said, “and is not opposed to providing support for organic dairy farmers. But the appropriate venue again for this conversation would be in the context of the fiscal year 2024 budget development, not budget adjustment.”

Clouser said the funding was “provided by the House with no input from the Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets, or from other market participants other than the dairy organic farmers.”

“Further evidence that this is not right for inclusion in the budget adjustment is the language in the budget adjustment which holds these funds in reserve pending additional study and action by the Legislature,” Clouser said. “However, for the three initiatives just discussed, this additional spending will come out of the fiscal year 2024 budget. And as a result, this is not something the administration can support without understanding what will be removed to accommodate these additional investments.”

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2 thoughts on “Scott administration takes issue with funding added to budget adjustment bill

  1. I have noticed a large increase in Internet speed on cellular connections.
    People buy their own cell phones like they used to buy their own TV’s and antennas.
    Why is there a need to subsidize broadband?
    Maybe what is needed is a subsidy for how to budget?

  2. The tax ’em zelots in montpeculiar will continually have problems meeting their spending goals as they drive everyone out of VT, especially the businesses.

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