This past week the Vermont legislature re-convened to continue the work of crafting a budget for these unique times. Due to the immense financial uncertainty last spring, the legislature determined early on that trying to predict a full year budget wasn’t prudent. So we approved a first quarter budget and are meeting now, with new financial forecasts and projections and Governor Scott’s proposals, to map out spending for the rest of this uncertain fiscal year. There is also about $200 million remaining in federal CARES money to allocate where it is needed most.
While continuing to meet remotely, much of this week was devoted to committee work: digging into budget requests and receiving updates on the successes and failures of the relief spending authorized in June. In addition to tweaking earlier programs the legislature will take up some bills that had already passed one chamber and were awaiting action in the other. The goal is to complete all work and adjourn by September 25th.
One of the biggest unknowns is whether there will be another federal stimulus package, and if there is, how large it will be and what strings are attached. The current stimulus dollars must be spent by December 31 or they revert back to the federal government. Will that deadline be extended?
If more federal money does arrive after the legislature adjourns, the Joint Fiscal Committee (comprised of four Senators and four Representatives) is authorized by law to accept and allocate those grant dollars.
As always, please contact me with questions and concerns.