It is week No. 3 at the Legislature and here’s my report, this time on budgets, the economy and housing:
Budget adjustment for the current state fiscal year: Task No. 1 in my House Appropriations Committee is to work on the FY2023 Budget Adjustment Act (BAA). Much of the BAA involves a true-ing up (or recalibration) of state programs’ revenues and expenditures half-way through the existing state fiscal year. BAA also provides the opportunity to address urgent needs that cannot wait for the next fiscal year budgetary process. Our committee responsibilities involve evaluating the governor’s proposed adjustments and arriving at a final BAA bill to debate on the House floor. Upon passage out of the House, the bill will then go to the Senate for their review. A highlight for me was to hear details about the governor’s proposed BAA from our former state representative and now the state finance and management commissioner, Adam Greshin, Warren. He also walked our committee through the governor’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year (beginning on July 1) which was released at the end of last week.
Economic outlook: Our committee also heard from the Legislature’s economist about the consensus revenue projection that was presented to the state emergency board, or E-Board, last week. (Unlike most states, Vermont creates a consensus revenue report for both the Legislature and the executive branch.) We use this information when setting a budget for the next fiscal year that is balanced. As we know, there are two opposing forces at play in our economy: an unprecedented recent federal spending (and subsequent returns in state budgets, and people’s wallets as a result), and monetary policy designed to slow the economy in the face of inflation. While reports anticipate a drop in revenue in the next fiscal year as federal funding is reduced, overall revenue projections are expected to stabilize above pre-pandemic levels.
Housing: The House restructured to support a greater focus on housing, which continues to be a major priority for the Legislature. The House General and Housing Committee has been taking testimony from affordable housing advocates, developers, bankers, and real estate representatives. The Legislature is focusing on a wide range of housing needs including emergency housing and the successful Vermont Housing Incentive Program (VHIP), a program that supports the creation of affordable rental apartments and accessory dwelling units in existing properties. More to come on this topic.
Coffee with Kari is back and scheduled for weeks one and three of each month. Week No. 1: Monday at The Warren Store (9 to 9:50 a.m.) and Three Mountain Café in Waitsfield (10 to 11 a.m.); week No. 3: Tuesday at the Moretown Store (6:30 to 7:30 a.m.); and Wednesday at the Stowe Street Café in Waterbury (to better accommodate Duxbury residents): 7 to 7:45 a.m. See you there!