Don’t forget to go to VHCC’s Annual Legislative Day this Wednesday, 2/16!
Please help produce a strong showing on Legislative Day to support the Governor’s request for full VHCB funding at $12.6 million
The State’s $176 million budget shortfall creates enormous challenges Holding on to the Governor’s strong recommendation is going to take real work
Please let us know that you’ll be attending, who’s coming with you, and who you are scheduled to meet. You can email or call Erhard, John, Adam or one of us. Our addresses appear below.
Turn-out is a critical element of Legislative Day. It is absolutely essential that we fill the building with our supporters and meet with as many legislators as possible, either one-on-one or in small groups. These meetings are the most important work you can do on the 16th.
Our most effective support comes from the local folks involved in your projects. We need Vermonters from every walk of life – low-income residents, farmers, business leaders, the faith-based community, bankers, contractors, town officials – to tell their legislators about the difference VHCB-funded projects have made in their lives and their communities. The Vermont League of Cities and Towns has its Legislative Day on the 16th as well, so please reach out to your municipal partners and ask them to help advocate for housing and conservation funding.
The best time to schedule meetings with legislators is between 7:30 and 9:00 AM, before they go into committee meetings. This year another organization is sponsoring breakfast in the State House cafeteria, but you should feel free to take advantage of this opportunity to meet with legislators. Please come early so we can create a strong presence in the State House right at the start of the day. Lunch will also be a good time to meet with legislators.
We need to contact legislators on key House and Senate committees: Appropriations, Institutions, Agriculture, General, Economic Development, Natural Resources, Commerce and Fish & Wildlife. If your legislators are on any of these, please make an extra effort to reach them. You can leave a message with the Sergeant-at-Arms (1-800-322-5616), send email, or call them at home over the weekend. Click here for House and Senate committees, here for the legislative directory.
Your meetings with legislators are also the best time to give them written information on VHCB. Talking points and tips for talking to legislators are attached. Here are additional materials to help you prepare. We’ll have a full info packet for you on the 16th.
BACKGROUND – Governor Peter Shumlin has made support for VHCB funding a signature part of his inaugural fiscal policy. His budget recommends $12.6 million for VHCB next year, which is the amount due under the statutory funding formula. He does this through a combination of $8.6 million from the property transfer tax and $4 million from the capital bill. BUT, this good news brings a real challenge to VHCC supporters. The state budget faces the fourth year of budget deficits. With a $176 million shortfall, many areas of state spending are being seriously cut. Holding on to this strong recommendation from the Governor is going to take real work.
OUR MESSAGE – Ask legislators to support the Governor’s request for $12.6 million for VHCB. VHCB investments ARE Economic Development and will result in long term benefits for the State. They must remain a priority despite the State’s fiscal crisis:
Our housing efforts produce construction jobs, maintain vibrant downtowns and village centers, and provide permanently affordable housing for the workforce and the most vulnerable Vermonters, which reduce human services budget pressures.
Our conservation efforts help build the farm economy and are central to the “agricultural renaissance.” These investments in the dairy and maple industries and our diversified local farms are the backbone of the farm-to-plate food future. Conservation stewards Vermont’s special brand, by protecting our world-class landscape and public access to recreation.
Over the past several years, and again this year, VHCB has made significant contributions to the state budget deficit because its statutory funding formula was not followed. As a result, almost $35 million in VHCB funds have been redirected to the general fund deficit. This year, $4 million in transfer tax receipts due to VHCB will be redirected to the deficit and backfilled with capital funds. Even the $12.6 million level proposed by the Governor is down nearly $3 million from the VHCB funding level just a few years ago.
We look forward to seeing you on the 16th!
For more information contact: