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Five Joint Public Hearings on the Governor’s Proposed FY 2017 State Budget – Monday, February 15th

Posted February 1, 2016

The Vermont House and Senate Committees on Appropriations are seeking public input on the FY2017 proposed State budget and will hold five joint public hearings Monday, February 15, 2016, 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. at 5 locations across the State. For further information, please go to: .

The Committees will take testimony on the Governor’s FY 2017 State budget proposal at that time. Anyone interested in testifying should come to one of the hearings. Time limits on testimony may apply depending on volume of participants.

To view or print a copy of the proposed budget, go to the Department of Finance and Management’s website at:

For more information about the format of these events, or to submit written testimony, call Theresa Utton-Jerman or Rebecca Buck, Joint Fiscal Office, 802-828-5767 or toll-free 1-800-322-5616; or e-mail: or Requests for interpreters should be made to the office by 3:00 p.m. on Monday, February 1, 2016.


Public Budget Forums to Receive Public Comments on the FY 2017 State Budget Development

Posted November 12, 2015

The Agency of Administration Department of Finance and Management is holding two public webinars to discuss the FY 17 state budget on November 23, 2015:

Secretary of Administration, Justin Johnson announced two open- to- the public webinars to discuss the FY 17 State budget on November 23, 2015. In accordance with Act 162 Sec E.100.1 of the 2012 session, public participation is required with the “development of budget goals, as well as general prioritization and evaluation of spending and revenue initiatives.”

This year’s meetings will be held through a webinar to allow for the public to provide input. As was the case last year, this year we will discuss different areas of state government at two separate meetings. On November 23rd at 1:00pm-3:00pm we will discuss Human Services. On November 23rd from 4:00pm to 6:00pm we will discuss General Government such as Education, Public Safety and Transportation.

The webinar will consist of brief introductory remarks by Secretary of Administration Justin Johnson, a short FY 2017 fiscal update with the remainder of the time devoted to questions and comments from the attendees taken through, previously submitted statements, phone calls and chat discussions. We appreciate your participation in the development of budget goals and prioritization and evaluation of spending and revenue initiatives for the State Budget. To assist the Finance and Management Department with prioritization and evaluation of spending and revenue initiatives, we are asking the public to answer a quick survey found at the link provided:

The webinar will consist of brief introductory remarks by Secretary of Administration Justin Johnson followed by a short FY 2017 fiscal update. The remainder of the webinar will consist of reviewing questions and comments from the attendees taken through previously submitted statements, phone calls and chat discussions.

This year we will accept written testimony on the public’s priorities. Please address to Secretary Justin Johnson with the subject Public Budget Development FY 17 on the envelope. 109 State Street, 5th Floor, Montpelier VT 05609-5901.

You may e-mail Aimee Pope for additional questions at with the title Public Budget Meeting in the subject line.

To register for the Human Services webinar please go to

To register for the General Government webinar please go to:

For more information, visit the link here (PDF File).


Latest Budget Cut Could Harm Affordable Housing Sector

Posted May 7, 2015

This week. VPR spoke with several affordable housing advocates about Governor Shumlin’s new proposed plans for cutting the state’s budget and how they may cause damage to the affordable housing sector, including VAHC coordinator Erhard Mahnke:

“The way this has been presented by the administration is that this is a cut that will really only affect middle-income people, and they have other places they can go to get energy efficiency funds to make improvement to their homes,” says Erhard Mahnke, coordinator of the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition. “And nothing could be further from the truth.”

Mahnke says the weatherization funds often provide a critical piece of financing for rehabilitation of old affordable housing stock, as well as the construction of new units.

“When you’re taking these monies … away from the Vermont Fuel Efficiency Partnership, you’re removing one of the key sources that helps to stabilize housing costs over the future, for both the nonprofit operator and the low-income residents that benefit from it,” Mahnke says.

Mahnke says the program funds improvements for as many as 500 units a year. He says the heating costs that are saved are vital to the residents, half of whom report average annual incomes of $17,000. Take away the weatherization money, and Mahnke says the state will stall production of needed affordable housing capacity.

“And we need more affordable housing,” Mahnke says. “This is death by a thousand cuts. And it’s going to make it that much more difficult for us to make headway in the battle against homelessness.”

For the full article, including audio, click here.


DCF unveils new emergency housing proposal

Posted July 24, 2013

Vermont housing advocates met with officials from the Department for Children and Families yesterday to discuss revising the agency’s proposal that would limit access to emergency motel vouchers.  The original plan required Vermonters who had not experienced a catastrophic event to meet 6 points on a scale of vulnerability in order to become eligible for a motel voucher.

At yesterday’s meeting, DCF unveiled their new proposal which would maintain the point system, but lower the eligibility threshold to 4 points. Additionally, the plan makes vouchers available to individuals who are 65 or older, have a child age 6 or younger, women in their third trimester of pregnancy, and individuals who have applied for or received SSI/SSDI.

Advocates at yesterday’s meeting generally felt the new proposal was more fair and inclusive, and appreciated the opportunity to collaborate and provide input. Linda Ryan, Director of the Samaritan House in St. Albans, stated, “I think we are way ahead of where we were to begin with. You’ve done a tremendous job of listening to us and adapting.”

Coverage of the story in local media:

Link to Article, 7/23/2013, 7/23/2013

Fox44/ABC22 News, 7/23/2013

Seven Days VT – Fair Game, 7/24/2013 

Seven Days VT – The Scoreboard, July 26, 2013

Rutland Herald – July 28, 2013



Federal public housing program tightens competition for financing

Posted June 21, 2013

“The Melrose Terrace public housing development was full long before FEMA maps placed it squarely in a special flood hazard area. Its 80 or more elderly and disabled residents were accustomed to evacuations long before and long after President Bill Clinton issued a presidential order that no critical population shall be housed in a flood zone using federal money…

Since 1937, housing agencies…traditionally have relied on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the vast majority of their public housing funding. But a new test program would lead them to the world of private equity…”

Link to Full Article 

View PDF of Full VTDigger Article




Vermont plan to limit welfare-to-work draws fire

Posted April 23, 2013

By Dave Gram, Associated Press. Reposted from the Brattleboro Reformer.

“MONTPELIER — For Roslyn Haldane and Jen Grey, a plan by Gov. Peter Shumlin’s administration to put new limits on a welfare-to-work program could create a nasty domino effect.

Grey could lose the $640 monthly check she receives from the state, which would force the extended Barre family to combine two households into one. Haldane would have to ask the disabled man she cares for to move, costing her the $2,400-a-month state stipend she gets for providing that care and forcing the man to find a new situation…”

Link to Brattleboro Reformer Article 

View PDF of Full Brattleboro Reformer Article


Times Argus Editorial – Too far a reach


Editorial. Reposted from the Times Argus, April 21, 2013.

“Ordinarily, major reforms receive close attention from affected groups and from legislators keen to study a problem and examine solutions. But sometimes a governor will launch an initiative from within the inner sanctum of his administration, without warning or the kind of preliminary work that is designed to build support from the public and the Legislature. That is what has happened with Shumlin…

There was moving testimony in the House from people in the program about the difficulties they encounter in finding stable employment, housing, transportation and child care, and not for want of trying. Cutting off benefits could throw a small core of troubled families into chaos, introducing new instability among people struggling to get by…”

View PDF of Full Editorial


VTDIGGER – Advocates make their cases before Senate Appropriations Committee

Posted April 2, 2013

By Alicia Freese. Reposted from VTDigger, April 1, 2013.

“Now that certain warning cries and requests for the 2014 budget have gone unheeded in the House, advocates are turning their attention to the Senate. On Monday afternoon, the Senate Appropriations Committee listened to advocates detail their needs in advance of taking up the budget bill passed by the House last week. The testimony lasted three hours — each advocate was allotted five minutes to make their case, and every slot was filled, leaving some on a waiting list…Not everyone was there to solicit funding. Many advocates spent their allotted time to warn against the proposed caps to Reach Up, the state’s family welfare program.

Advocates described the Reach Up cap — proposed by the Shumlin administration and included in revised form in the House’s budget — as a rash policy plan that will end up costing the state more money.

Representatives from housing organizations asked the senators to consider the ‘ripple effect’ that a cap on Reach Up would have on their programs…”

Link to Full Article 

View PDF of Full VTDigger Article


Times Argus – Welfare cap debate: ‘Unable’ or ‘unwilling’?

Posted April 1, 2013

By Peter Hirschfeld. Reposted from the Barre Montpelier Times Argus, March 30, 2013.

“MONTPELIER — The battle in Montpelier over whether to impose a five-year lifetime cap on welfare benefits peaked this week when House lawmakers gave final approval to a budget that includes the new limits.

But the House proposal has drawn fire from both sides on this controversial issue. And while welfare-reform advocates say the House version doesn’t go far enough, advocates for low-income Vermonters say it will exact an undue toll on poor people.


Link to full Times Argus article 

View PDF of full Times Argus article



House Human Services Committee supports five-year cap on welfare benefits

Posted March 24, 2013

By Alicia Freese. Reposted from, March 22, 2013. 

The House Human Services Committee voted Friday to support a 60-month cap on the state’s family welfare program.

The committee’s endorsement came with a number of caveats and changes, but it keeps in tact the main precept of the Shumlin administration’s proposal — that the state should limit welfare benefits.

The proposal enacts a firm five-year cap on Reach Up benefits. It pushes back the onset of the cap, giving all but 20 families who are currently under sanctions, seven more months to prepare for it. The proposal also offers a handful of exemptions that would extend the cap for some families, and it carves out a one-time appropriation to provide additional services to families approaching the 60-month limit…A handful of members, including the Human Services Committee chair, Rep. Ann Pugh, D-South Burlington, remain adamantly opposed to the recommendations sent to Appropriations…”

Link to Full Article 

Read Full PDF of VTDigger Article


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