Recent Posts

Concern raised with off session legislative work

Rep. Heidi Scheuermann

MONTPELIER — Vermont has always had a part-time Legislature comprised of ordinary, civic-minded Vermonters, but one representative says that characteristic is threatened by the growing level of engagement outside of the regular legislative sessions. Stowe Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, a Republican, took to social media Friday to lament the extensive work performed by some legislative committees since the official session ended in mid-May. “Is anybody else as frustrated as I with the amount of legislative activity that has happened since our May 16th adjournment? Report, after report, after report has legislative committees meeting and conducting legislative work just about full-time,” Scheuermann wrote. “While there have always been some summer study committees during the off session, I have never seen the amount of legislative work being conducted as I am seeing this year.”

Is anybody else as frustrated as I with the amount of legislative activity that has happened since our May 16th… Continue Reading →

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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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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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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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Jim Reardon to retire from state government

Jim Reardon (VPR photo)

MONTPELIER — Commissioner of Finance Jim Reardon, who has crafted state budgets for Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin and former Republican Gov. James Douglas, is retiring after nearly 30 years of state service. Reardon’s retirement was part of several staff changes the governor announced Tuesday. Reardon has served as finance commissioner since February 2005. Before that he served as deputy finance commissioner and financial operations ,anager for the Agency of Human Services. Current Department of Corrections Commissioner Andy Pallito has been tapped to replace Reardon. Continue Reading →

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911 cost savings less than projected

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Some of the projected $1.7 million in savings from closing two of the state’s 911 call centers are being eaten up by displaced workers traveling across the state to staff the remaining two. An agreement between the administration of Gov. Peter Shumlin and the Vermont State Employees’ Association says the state will pay overtime and mileage for workers to travel from their old work station or their home to the two remaining public safety answering points, whichever is shorter. Administration Secretary Justin Johnson says transition costs may offset some of the projected savings from closing the Derby and Rutland call-taking stations in the current fiscal year. But he says the longer-term savings will be significant. Continue Reading →

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Shumlin seeks level-funded budgets from agencies and departments

Justin Johnson

MONTPELIER — Work on Vermont’s 2017 fiscal year state budget is beginning with instructions from the administration of Gov. Peter Shumlin to agency and department heads to prepare for level funding. Secretary of Administration Justin Johnson sent a memo to commissioners and secretaries Tuesday telling them that budget instructions are pending, but funding will be limited. “Although Vermont’s revenues are projected to increase moderately for the fiscal year, we continue to experience fiscal pressures that will make it challenging to craft a responsible budget within available revenue,” he wrote in the memo. Johnson said general government costs, including increased employee pay, pension costs and the state’s debt service “will consume a significant portion of revenue growth in FY 2017.” And, the “federal budget process is as dysfunctional as ever,” he wrote. That means there is greater demand on state resources, Johnson said. Continue Reading →

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