Tag Archives: Jeb Spaulding

Administration seeks $17 million more in cuts

MONTPELIER — The Shumlin administration announced Wednesday it is seeking $17 million more in mid-year budget cuts to account for poor revenues.

The announcement follows a $31 million rescission in August. Administration officials said Wednesday that the state’s economic recovery is ongoing but revenue has not rebounded as economists had previously predicted. Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin forewarned earlier this month that additional budget cuts were likely.

“Prudence dictates that our administration take steps without delay to ensure spending does not exceed available revenues,” Jim Reardon, commissioner of Finance and Management, said in a statement Wednesday. “The sooner we take action, the less painful the reductions will be.”

Outgoing Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding, who will step down in January, said the state does not plan to use reserve funds to cover the budget gap. State officials will also not look to cut its debt service or retirement contributions, he said.

Officials expect another revenue downgrade in January as revenue continues to miss projections. Through October, the general fund was $12 million off target, officials said, even after the $31 million budget rescission in August.

Increases in employee health care and other benefits has put an additional $3.5 million burden on the general fund.

Spaulding said further reductions will be challenging, but pledged the state will continue to provide services to Vermonters “in a fiscally responsible manner.”

Reardon said Attorney General William Sorrell has confirmed the administration’s assertion earlier this month that it can cut up to 1 percent of the state budget without legislative approval. As a result, the state is seeking $6.7 million in additional cuts. The administration did not specify Wednesday where it will seek the reductions.

The administration is also preparing to cut an additional $5.3 million in January through the annual mid-year budget adjustment that will be approved by lawmakers.

Another $1.5 million will be sought in “efficiency savings” that were already authorized in the current budget. Reardon said the administration is requiring agencies to account for those savings to ensure the full reductions are met.

And $3.5 million in reductions is “related to current-year health care and other benefit increases that occurred after passage of the FY 15 Budget last session,” according to the administration. The administration did not make clear how the savings will be achieved.

“The Administration is acting promptly and proactively to plan for all of these reductions to the current year budget,” Reardon said in a statement. “We fully expect to comply with legal requirements to accomplish this, and to work with the Legislature to meet these total planned reductions. Planning for further cuts is hard but necessary work in this environment of slower than projected growth.”

Reardon said agencies and departments have to submit reduction plans to the Department of Finance and Management by next Friday.

Officials expect to face another budget gap in the 2016 fiscal year budget of at least $100 million. Shumlin told reporters earlier this month that he hopes to address the shortfalls in the current budget and the 2016 budget without raising taxes.

Spaulding to leave Shumlin administration

MONTPELIER — Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding was announced Wednesday as the next chancellor of the Vermont State Colleges and will be stepping down from his position in the Shumlin administration.

Spaulding will take over as chancellor in January. It was not immediately known when he planned to step away from his administration position.

Spaulding, 61, a former state treasurer and state senator from Washington County, has served as Gov. Peter Shumlin’s top administration official since Shumlin took office in January 2011. Shumlin issued a statement Wednesday, calling Spaulding “the ideal person to take the helm of the Vermont State Colleges.”

Jeb Spaulding

Jeb Spaulding

“Jeb has been a good friend since our first days working together in the Legislature 24 years ago. As my Administration Secretary, he has been a rock-solid partner, creating a balanced budget year after year, and preserving Vermont’s exceptional fiscal management and bond rating,” Shumlin said in his statement. “He has also been a close personal advisor, a role I know he will continue to play. I look forward to continuing to work closely with Jeb when he takes on his new role as Chancellor of the Vermont State Colleges next January.”

During his time in the Senate, from 1985 to 2001, Spaulding chaired the Appropriations Committee, the Education Committee, the Joint Fiscal Committee and the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.

He was elected state treasurer in 2002 and served in that office until he became administration secretary under Shumlin.

A full story will appear in Thursday’s editions of the Herald and Times Argus.

Republicans break out badges in move to become health care police

House and Senate Republicans have accused Gov. Peter Shumlin of violating state law by failing to tell Vermonters how he plans to pay for single-payer health care.

Legislation signed into law by the Democratic governor in 2009 included a provision calling for the recommendation of a single-payer financing mechanism by Jan. 15 of this year. Administration officials say the mandate was rendered unnecessary by a shifting federal landscape that postponed for at least three years any hope of implementing the publicly financed system.

Senate Minority Leader Joe Benning, however, said Vermonters are looking answers, not excuses.

“Businesses need to have the information necessary to make important decisions for themselves and their employees,” Benning, a Caledonia County Republican, said during a Statehouse press conference Thursday morning. “We need to have a clear understanding of what the game plan is, and at present we don’t have that game plan.”

Jeb SpauldingAdministration Secretary Jeb Spaulding dismissed the GOP attack as a “stunt.” The administration last week unveiled a highly anticipated report on single-payer; Spaulding said the administration had explained to lawmakers in advance that it would not include any specific recommendations for financing. He said reasonable people agree that it makes no sense to design a financing system for a program that won’t begin until 2017.

“These are people who want to undermine the effort to move to a single-payer system and are looking for any opportunity they can get to confuse people and erode support,” Spaulding said. “Issuing a specific plan at this stage of the game would not in any way help Vermonters understand what a new system would look like or what the options are to pay for it.”

For a deeper look at Republicans’ grievances, and whether they have any merit, check out the full story in today’s edition of The Times Argus and Rutland Herald.

 

Cloudy revenue picture pushes back timeline for budget

This year’s budget address will come later than usual.

During a debriefing on the budget-adjustment act for members of the media Wednesday, Jeb Spaulding said the governor will wait until after the next revenue forecast to unveil his fiscal year 2014 spending plan.

The  updated forecast won’t come until Jan. 23. Spaulding said the budget proposal will be delivered to the Legislature on Jan. 24.

“And that is a little bit later than we’d like, but it’s something both the Legislature’s and the governor’s  economists recommended to us,” Spaulding said.

Spaulding said the extra time will also allow the final proposal to reflect as accurately as possible what Vermont can expect in the way of diminished revenue from the federal government.

State budget talks: Input wanted

State budget talks begin tomorrow, and the state wants your input. A draft copy of the presentation is available here, and an edited press release follows:

The first of two public forums occurs tonight to discuss the state budget process, revenues and expenditures.

As required by state legislation, public participation is required in the development of budget goals and general prioritizing and evaluation of spending and revenue initiatives.

“We hope to engage the public in a discussion about the goals, opportunities and complexities of putting together the State budget,” Finance & Management Commissioner Jim Reardon said in a statement. “We’ll discuss revenues and expenditures and conduct a budget exercise about priorities for how state funds might be directed.”

The meetings will be held from 5:15 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. today, at various sites around Vermont, through Vermont Interactive Technologies (VIT), including Montpelier and Rutland.

Another session will occur from 4:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. Monday.
For more information on Vermont Interactive Technologies, a list of all the sites, and directions, go to www.vitlink.org/.

Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding will moderate the forums.

Reardon will begin each forum with a 15- to 20-minute presentation about funding sources, revenues and how funds are currently spent. He will also analyze budget challenges.

The public’s comments will be considered as the governor prepares the upcoming budget recommendations, which will be submitted to the General Assembly in January.

Both meetings will have live streaming. The link will be posted on the Department of Finance and Management’s main webpage, finance.vermont.gov/.

Less state workers in Waterbury could help reduce project by $19 million

In the governor’s press conference at the Waterbury state office complex last week, the administration showed at least one response the state could use if it doesn’t receive expected funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

If needed, $19 million could be saved.

On Wednesday, Gov. Peter Shumlin said he’ll proceed with the new state hospital rather than wait for FEMA, but he noted the administration doesn’t want to proceed with demolishing buildings at the state office complex until the state knows that doing so won’t jeopardize Vermont’s eligibility for FEMA disaster aid.

The new state office complex is expected to cost $125 million. Additional psychiatric beds across the state and the new state hospital in Berlin amount to about $45 million in total.

The state has railed against FEMA for suggesting several redevelopment costs would likely be ineligible for aid. State officials said in July agency representatives initially indicated the costs would be eligible for federal aid.

The state is expecting $80 million to $90 million in FEMA aid for combined projects.

The governor also pointed out how if the number of office workers in Waterbury is dropped from more than 900 to 806, the state could save some $20 million. Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding wrote in an email to the Vermont Press Bureau that the option, which includes reducing the number of state workers from about 950 to 800 along with various other savings, would reduce the cost of the preferred plan for the new state office complex from $125 million to $106 million.

About 1,500 workers were based at the Waterbury complex, and 1,200 worked there regularly.

Architecture firm Freeman French Freeman identified various proposals in March. The cheapest option was $108 million to build a new state office complex and buy land, possibly in Berlin. Other options included demolishing the Labor Department building off Memorial Drive in Montpelier and rebuilding there for $119 million or demolishing and reusing portions of the Waterbury site for $134 million. A full reuse of the Waterbury site with demolition of several buildings by the Winooski River was $143 million.

State revenues disappointing for January, but better than 2011

MONTPELIER — A shortage of snow has hurt the Vermont economy and is one reason state tax revenues came in below target in January, the Shumlin administration said Wednesday.
General fund revenue was $4.7 million, or 3.5 percent, below target for the month, the administration said in a news release.
Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding said the results were disappointing but not surprising.
“The lack of snow is having an impact on consumption tax receipts, and personal income tax withholding was less than predicted,” Spaulding said in a written statement.
The underlying economy appears to be stronger than the January results indicate, he said.
Revenues are below target for the year so far by less than 1 percent. But Spaulding noted that January revenue was still 1.3 percent higher than a year ago, “indicative of our modest but steady recovery.”
The transportation fund was also down 3.4 percent. Non-property tax education fund revenue — which accounts for 12 percent of the education fund — was down 1.5 percent.