Legislative Review: Lanpher vows to help close budget gap

This is the start of my seventh year in the Vermont House of Representatives, and it is still as special as my first year. In many ways I am experiencing those freshmAn hurdles again due to my acceptance of a new and challenging legislative assignment. For six years I served on the House Transportation Committee. But after several conversations with House Speaker Shap Smith, I knew this 2015 legislative session was going to have a very different approach.
Vermont’s challenges always require members of the state Legislature to contribute their full measure, but it’s never been truer than this year. On your behalf, my full measure is now devoted to my new assignment on the House Appropriations Committee. This is one of toughest assignments in the Statehouse, and I was deeply honored to be appointed because it speaks to my work ethic as well as speaking highly of you, the voters who elected me. The work of the Appropriations Committee calls for an additional time commitment, both with longer committee days per week and agency site budget reviews. I have been meeting outside of committee time with state agency commissioners and finance managers as well as listening to the voices of concerned citizens, advocates and lobbyists. In order to make the best use of my time in serving as a representative, during the week I live in Montpelier.
This past week the full House passed the 2015 budget adjustment (H.82), which rebalances the current year’s budget to the reformulated revenue forecast, on a vote of 135-5. Adjustments to the General Fund are necessary because of revenue downgrades (over $41 million) from the original revenue forecasts January 2014. This is not a result of overspending, but a result of less then expected revenue.
In the coming weeks the focus of the Appropriations Committee will be on the 2016 budget and closing the $112 million gap between the current level of state government services and the projected revenue. In his budget address, the governor presented his idea for closing $94 million in the budget, however the forecast has now projected the need for an additional $18 million reduction. 
My goal is to keep you informed on the work of this crucial committee and to encourage your participation in the budget process. The Vermont House and Senate Committees on Appropriations will hold a joint public hearing on Monday, Feb. 9, 4–6 p.m. at all 13 Vermont Interactive Television sites (there is one at the Hannaford Career Center in Middlebury). For further information/directions, please go to www.vitlink.org. Anyone interested in testifying should come to the hearing.
To view or print a copy of the proposed budget, go to the Department of Finance and Management’s website at: finance.vermont.gov/state_budget/rec.
As an elected representative in Addison County, I make it a high priority to attend the weekly Legislative Breakfasts and urge you to attend. The Legislative Breakfast series on Mondays is sponsored by the Bridport Grange and Addison County Farm Bureau and supported by the Addison County Chamber of Commerce. I also invite you to write me with your comments and questions at [email protected].
Editor’s note: Dianne Lanpher represents the five communities in the Addison-3 district, which includes Vergennes, Ferrisburgh, Addison, Panton and Waltham.

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