State budget passes key hurdle

SHOREHAM — Local lawmakers at Monday’s Legislative Breakfast at the Shoreham Congregational Church shared details the fiscal year 2016 state budget of $1.46 billion.
Rep. Diane Lanpher, D-Vergennes, a member of the House Appropriations Committee explained what was a difficult process of closing a $113 million revenue shortfall. The committee ultimately recommended $52.8 million in long-term cuts, $23.8 million in one-time cuts and revenues, $35 million in new fees and taxes, and $1.7 million in earnings from renting prison beds to the federal government.
Specific cuts include $6 million in heating assistance, $5 million for Vermont Health Connect, and the closing (in 2017) of the state prison in Windsor.
“It’s been a particularly tough year this year,” Lanpher said.
She explained the state has, during the past five years, been able to tap into federal stimulus money to stabilize its budget during a prolonged recession.
But the financial landscape has changed this year.
“All those nice Band-Aids are pretty much finished,” Lanpher said. “We are now going to pretty much have to face the reality of where we are.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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