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vt.Buzz ~ a political blog

Political notes from Free Press staff writers Terri Hallenbeck, Sam Hemingway and Nancy Remsen



They're back

After a week away from the Statehouse, lawmakers return today, many with fresh insight about Vermonters’ views on pending budget decisions and other bills thanks to conversations with constituents.

Lawmakers will be greeted with unpleasant news today. State revenues have continued to decline – especially personal income receipts.

The weight of this bad financial news falls especially on the House Appropriations Committee, which must wrap up work on its budget bill in the next two weeks.

Recall that revenues for next year already were projected to fall short of expenditures by $150 million. While the Legislature and Douglas administration agreed on a way to find $38 million in savings, the House budget-writing committee now must put on the table its plan to address the remaining shortfall – and more if the new revenue shrinkage turns into a long-term trend.

Secretary of Administration Neale Lunderville said there is no way lawmakers can avoid spending cuts. In a statement accompanying the February revenue report, he warned, "Now is not the time to rely on one-time patches or tax increases, both of which will slow our recovery and speed an exodus of businesses and taxpayers from Vermont."

There won’t even be standing room in the House Appropriations Committee as representatives of interest groups crowd in to witness the decision-making this week and next. The gasps coming from the room will either be reaction to cuts or to lack of breathable air.

-- Nancy Remsen

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