Recent Posts

State revenue growth to continue, but remains volatile

Justin Johnson

MONTPELIER — The Shumlin Administration says revenue forecasts will likely remain unchanged going into the next year, while acknowledging revenue streams have grown more volatile. Administration Secretary Justin Johnson hosted an Internet forum Monday afternoon to inform the public on the pressures lawmakers will face as they craft the 2017 budget, and took testimony from the public on the effects budget cuts might have to social services. In a good news-bad news sort of statement, Johnson discussed the trend of revenues coming into state coffers. “Revenue is growing. It has been growing consistently, year over year, since the global financial crisis in 2008,” Johnson said. Continue Reading →

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Commentary: Reversing the trend of rising incarceration rates


or most of the last two decades, Vermont’s prison inmate population has been rising. Between 1997 and 2008, it grew by 86 percent. Projections made in 2007 said that Vermont’s inmate population would grow to 2,619 by November 2015. After years of work to reform Vermont’s criminal justice system that trend has been reversed, and today Vermont has 1,734 inmates, 885 less than projected. When I first ran for Governor I made reforming the criminal justice system a priority because it is the right thing to do. Continue Reading →

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VSEA presents security requests

Trissie Casanova, left, and Nancy Lynch present the Vermont State Employees Association's request for additional security measures for Department for Children and Families workers. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

MONTPELIER — The Vermont State Employees Association is calling for a cap on case loads for social workers and added security measures in the wake of the slaying of a Department for Children and Families worker in August. Nancy Lynch, a legislative specialist for the VSEA, and Trissie Casanova, a social worker and chairwoman of the group’s Labor Management Committee, presented the union’s proposals to the Joint Legislative Child Protection Oversight Committee Wednesday morning. Worker safety has been a major concern for state workers following the August slaying of Lara Sobel, who was gunned down in the parking lot outside a DCF office in Barre. Casanova told the panel that VSEA wants to cap case loads for social workers at no more than 15 per worker. In addition, the union wants to limit investigations per worker to no more than 17 at a time and have one administrative assistant for every 12 social workers. Continue Reading →

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Shumlin administration won’t seek more funds in budget adjustment

Andrew Pallito (courtesy photo)

MONTPELIER — Shumlin administration officials say they are hoping to avoid asking lawmakers for additional funds for the 2016 fiscal year in the annual budget adjustment and will instead ask for the authority to shuffle spending within state government. Finance Commissioner Andrew Pallito, who took over the post on Nov. 1, will update the Legislature’s Joint Fiscal Committee Friday on the administration’s budget adjustment progress and its plan to address a $35 to $40 million gap in the Medicaid program. Pallito said Thursday the administration will seek “spending authority manipulation across state government” to help close the Medicaid gap and address additional budget pressures in state government. “We’re going to zero it,” Pallito said. Continue Reading →

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Shumlin touts incentive programs

Gov. Peter Shumlin in his ceremonial State House office earlier this year.

MONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin says Vermont’s small-ball approach to economic subsidies for businesses is paying dividends in the nationwide incentive battle with other states. Vermont, like other states, is engaged in a battle to both attract new businesses and retain existing ones. The high-stakes game involves vast sums of taxpayer funds to lure companies. In Vermont, the main tool available to state government is the Vermont Economic Growth Incentive. The program provides incentives from the state to businesses to encourage economic activity that would otherwise not occur without the incentive. Continue Reading →

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VSC seeks more state funds, expects little


MONTPELIER — The Vermont State Colleges system is looking for $4 million in state funding for capital projects, a fraction of the $62 million in deferred maintenance across the college system. Thursday afternoon, the VSC Finance and Facilities Committee adopted a resolution to ask the Legislature for the money to make a host of repairs across the five colleges, but the panel expressed skepticism the system will receive anywhere near the amount being requested. “We do this, knowingly,” said committee Chairman Churchill Hindes. “We don’t have starry eyes and unrealistic expectations.”

Hindes and others are skeptical because, for a number of years now, VSC trustees have requested $4 million from the Legislature and each time received $1.4 million. With that track record in mind, college officials say the alternative is to assess fees on students to pay for the most necessary projects. Continue Reading →

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Incentive money for 2 firms OK’d

Gov. Peter Shumlin and the Emergency Board meet on Monday, Oct. 19, 2015. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

MONTPELIER — The Emergency Board voted Monday to authorize incentives totaling $700,000 proposed by Gov. Peter Shumlin for two companies, with the money coming from an enterprise fund containing $2 million for economic development efforts. According to the Shumlin administration, $500,000 would go to G.W. Plastics in Bethel if the company accepts the terms. The company, as part of the deal, would create up to 73 new jobs to add to its current workforce of 300. The company has no available additional manufacturing space at the moment and recently signed a new contract for additional work orders, necessitating expansion. Gov. Peter Shumlin said G.W. Plastics has additional facilities in Texas, Arizona, Mexico and China and the proposed incentives are part of a pitch by the state for the company to expand here in Vermont. A potential new site has been identified by the company in New Hampshire, Shumlin said. Continue Reading →

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Medicaid, budget woes on the horizon in Montpelier

Gov. Peter Shumlin in his ceremonial State House office earlier this year.

MONTPELIER — Lawmakers are facing another daunting budget gap as high as $90 million in the 2017 fiscal year that is driven largely by Medicaid costs after tackling a $113 million problem this year, according to the Legislature’s Joint Fiscal Office. There are still two and a half months before the next legislative session commences, but the fiscal challenges are already on the radar of lawmakers and the Shumlin administration. The Legislature’s Joint Fiscal Office outlined those challenges for lawmakers last week. According to JFO, the state must find an additional $38 million for its Medicaid program for the current fiscal year. Another $58 million hole is projected for the 2017 fiscal year. Continue Reading →

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Podcast: Capitol Beat with Speaker Shap Smith 10-16-15

House Speaker Shap Smith on the Capitol Beat podcast.

Democratic House Speaker Shap, who is seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for governor, sits down with Vermont Press Bureau chief Neal Goswami to discuss budget challenges with Medicaid and the general fund.  






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State revenues exceed September targets

Justin Johnson

MONTPELIER — The state’s general, transportation and education funds exceeded revenue targets in September, according to the Shumlin administration. Secretary of Administration Justin Johnson said general fund revenues totaled $146 million for the month, more than $7 million, or 5.3 percent, above its target. He said the fund performed well largely due to higher income and corporate tax receipts. The fund’s performance in September pushed the cumulative year-to-date results about $5 million over projections one quarter through the fiscal year. “In addition to providing a small cushion, the strong performance by the G-Fund in September also helped us rebuild the revenue shortfall from August. Continue Reading →

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