Appropriations

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Child care, disabled services and after-school activities top budget hearing

MONTPELIER — Advocates for child care, after-school activities and the disabled called for greater funding for their causes during a hearing Thursday night at the State House. Perhaps it was due to the regional public forums happening next week, but Thursday’s hearing before the House Appropriations Committee drew a modest turnout. But, those people who did show up offered passionate testimony on behalf of their issues. Currently, the committee is reviewing the proposed budget from the Shumlin Administration for FY 2017, which includes a 3.1-percent increase compared with the current fiscal year, taking into account mid-year adjustments. According to Gov. Peter Shumlin, the proposed budget increase matches projected revenues. Continue Reading →

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Shumlin seeks 3.1 percent boost in FY2017 budget, expansion of provider assessment

Gov. Peter Shumlin delivers the final budget address of his governorship inside the House chamber. (Times Argus/Jeb Wallace-Brodeur)

MONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin is looking to address a deficit in the state’s Medicaid program by expanding a tax on health care providers in the $1.537 billion 2017 fiscal year budget proposal he revealed Thursday. Shumlin, a Democrat who is not seeking re-election, delivered the final budget proposal of his tenure to lawmakers Thursday. His proposal, outlined in his 30-minute address inside the House Chamber, would boost spending by 3.1 percent over the current fiscal year — after mid-year adjustments are put in place. Shumlin touted his budget as responsible and necessary, noting he closed a projected $68 million gap between anticipated revenues and spending without the use of one-time funding for ongoing expenses for the first time since before the Great Recession. The 3.1 percent spending increase matches projected revenues, he said. Continue Reading →

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Budget adjustment goes to the House floor

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Mitzi Johnson speaks to the committee about the annual budget adjustment bill. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

MONTPELIER — The House Appropriations Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to advance the annual mid-year budget adjustment bill after settling on how to appropriate the final $450,000 in available revenue in a give-and-take between members. The adjustment to the current 2016 fiscal year budget addresses about $85 million in needs. The majority of that — $52.6 million — is in the state’s Medicaid program. The budget adjustment covers the state’s $22.9 million share of the Medicaid gap. “We’re funding the Medicaid caseload,” Chairwoman Mitzi Johnson, D-South Hero, said. Continue Reading →

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State revenues get slight downgrade

Economists Tom Kavet and Jeff Carr deliver an updated revenue forecast to the Emergency Board. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

MONTPELIER — Economists for the Shumlin administration and the Legislature have revised projected state revenues downward for the remainder of the current fiscal year and the next fiscal year for the general and education funds. The new consensus forecast was delivered to the Emergency Board Tuesday by Tom Kavet and Jeff Carr, consulting economists for the administration and lawmakers. The general fund is now expected to see $4.7 million less revenue in the current 2016 fiscal year and $9.1 million less in the 2017 fiscal year. The education fund, meanwhile, is expected to see $1 million less in the current fiscal year and $500,000 less in the 2017 fiscal year. The transportation fund is now expected to grow by $900,000 more in the current fiscal year and $1.1 million more in the 2017 fiscal year. Continue Reading →

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State officials not banking on windfall from Keurig sale

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MONTPELIER — The pending sale of Keurig Green Mountain is set to make a number of shareholders wealthy, but it also could deliver a significant windfall to the state’s coffers through the collection of capital gains taxes. The acquisition of Keurig, the Waterbury-based coffee giant, by JAB Holding Co. was announced in December, but is expected to close some time in the first quarter of 2016. The $13.9 billion transaction is an all cash deal and will pay shareholders $92 per share. Generally speaking, anyone earning income through a capital gain can exempt the first $5,000 in earnings, according to Tax Commissioner Mary Peterson. Continue Reading →

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Shumlin won’t rule out new revenue for Medicaid

Gov. Peter Shumlin discusses the state's Medicaid program in an interview Monday, Jan. 11, 2016. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

MONTPELIER — Outgoing Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin is not ruling out the possibility of raising new revenue to pay for the state’s Medicaid program when he delivers his annual budget address on Thursday. Shumlin, in an interview with the Rutland Herald and the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus Monday, promised to deliver a balanced budget for the 2017 fiscal year on Thursday. That means he must close a projected gap of $58.5 million that is largely driven by the Medicaid program. The Medicaid deficit in the upcoming fiscal year is projected to be about $53 million. That’s because the state expanded the program under the federal Affordable Care Act. Continue Reading →

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WATCH: Capitol Beat — Week 1 at the State House

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Vermont Press Burea chief Neal Goswami sits down with Senate Majority Leader Philip Baruth, D-Chittenden, to discuss the suspension of Franklin County Republican Sen. Norm McAllister. House Minority Leader Don Turner, R-Milton, also joins the program to discuss Gov. Peter Shumlin’s State of the State address. Continue Reading →

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Health care costs drive budget adjustment

Andy Pallito

MONTPELIER — Health care costs are are driving a proposed budget adjustment from the Governor’s Office to the tune of $70 million. The House Appropriations Committee spent Monday reviewing a proposal that would add an additional $88.9 million to the FY 2016 budget, with the lion’s share of the increase due to the state’s expansion of health care. Much of that will be covered by federal funding. “Of the 88.9 million, $70 million is for DVHA (Department of Vermont Health Access) or Medicaid,” said Andy Pallito, commissioner of the Department of Finance and Management. Since 2012, the state has made a concerted effort to provide health care for all Vermont residents. Continue Reading →

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Report: State contracts need more competitive bidding

State Auditor Doug Hoffer

tate government is one of the biggest spenders in Vermont, with public agencies shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars annually for programs and services. But the process used to contract for state services has come under scrutiny, and a report from State Auditor Doug Hoffer raises questions about whether bureaucrats are getting the best bang for taxpayers’ bucks. The rest area on Interstate North 89 in Williston has become a destination in its own right. Motorists can grab a free cup of coffee while taking care of business, and even sit down for a while to take advantage of the free Wi-Fi. Seven Days named it the best public bathroom in the state in 2014. Continue Reading →

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Story + Video: Coalition seeks study, expansion of Dr. Dynasaur

Main Street Alliance State Director Lindsay Deslauriers (VPB/Neal Goswami)

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WINOOSKI — A newly formed coalition of labor organizations, consumer groups and non-profits is asking lawmakers to consider expanding the state’s Dr. Dynasaur program for Vermonters through age 26, a request that has the backing of House Speaker Shap Smith. The group announced its new Dr. Dynasaur 2.0 campaign to convince lawmakers to study the expansion of the publicly funded health insurance program for Vermont kids and lower-income pregnant women at a Winooski news conference Wednesday. The program currently covers children through age 18. By expanding the program through age 26, Vermonters and the state’s employers could save thousands in premium costs, Main Street Alliance State Director Lindsay Deslauriers said. “Health insurance is expensive and since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, even with insurance, health care is expensive,” she said. Continue Reading →

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