The Vermont House gave preliminary approval to the fiscal year 2021 Budget, H.969 on a vote of 140-4 on Sept. 10. Then final passage on Friday, Sept. 11.
Chair of the House Appropriations Committee Rep. Kitty Toll (D-Danville) presented the bill on the floor, saying, “building on priorities from our work at the beginning of the year, this full-year budget contains provisions from the quarter one budget implemented in June, as well as the governor’s restated budget that was presented in August, and importantly, it appropriates the remaining Coronavirus Relief Funds, providing critical relief across the state. Scattered throughout the budget are targeted 3% General Fund reductions and 5% Internal Service Fund reductions. The committee paid close attention to what these reductions mean and through testimony, determined that the missions and goals of departments and agencies remain intact.
“Additionally, this budget makes important investments in our communities and local businesses, and supports our education system — from Pre-K to our colleges and universities — providing a variety of educational opportunities that can be found in every corner of the state. It expands the much needed broadband infrastructure that is necessary for our state to grow and thrive, and it provides for those who need a guiding hand and support when struggling with addiction, mental illness, loss of jobs, and homelessness. During these unusual and unsettling times, this budget is a steady ship in a storm.”
House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D-South Hero) added, “The House worked collaboratively and quickly to ensure the budget is in balance, and ensure that there are no cuts to the services Vermonters count on. At the same time, the House fully funded future obligations and kept our reserves healthy to ensure we are in a strong financial position heading into the uncertain months that lie ahead.
“In addition, this budget makes the largest single-year investment in higher education in modern history. Between the Coronavirus Relief Funds and General Fund dollars allocated, our higher education institutions will see nearly $210 million dollars this year.
“We want a Vermont that works for all of us. This steady budget delivers for Vermonters in need, invests in our state’s future, and ensures our communities have the tools they need to rebuild from the pandemic.”