Opinion: House Speaker: The Legislature does not deficit spend
Some on the campaign trail suggest that the Vermont Legislature has engaged in deficit spending over the last 14 years. That is simply not true.
Here’s how the budget process works in Vermont. Each year the Legislature works from projected revenue for the next fiscal year, and the House and Senate pass a balanced budget for that year based on those projected revenues. Since this budget is based on projected revenues for the next fiscal year, in the middle of the fiscal year the Legislature passes a budget adjustment act to make changes as needed based on actual revenue and expenditures. We do this to ensure that we don’t deficit spend, and if revenues are coming in lower than expected we look for ways to cut back on future spending so that the budget remains balanced.
Furthermore, the Legislative Joint Fiscal Committee has the authority to make recessions, and cut back spending, if needed when the Legislature is not in session to keep spending in line with revenues.
Saying that the Legislature deficit spends is inaccurate and misleading to voters. The state’s nonpartisan Joint Fiscal Office is a great resource to be able to verify or get clarity on how this budget process works.
This weeks’ writer is Morrisville resident Shap Smith, speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives.