Tuesday Governor Scott gave his budget address. While he should be applauded for suggesting many important initiatives such as additional funding for early child care, Vermont state colleges and adult non-degree training; expanding our home electronic monitoring system to reduce correctional costs and adding funding to the St Albans treatment center and suggesting a $35m housing bond to move towards fixing our housing shortage - I am a bit concerned regarding his suggested changes to the education fund, level funding education budgets and moving to a one time special vote on May 23rd for all school budgets. I will be meeting with Judy DeNova, the CCSU superintendent next week and the education committee will begin hearing testimony on all the Governor's suggested changes. Senate bill S.46 was introduced yesterday and can be read here.
The topics affecting our healthcare committee were not many. He suggested reducing payments to hospitals by 10% and eliminating the state as middle man to those buying healthcare directly from commercial carries. The healthcare committee will begin reviewing once we have the proposed budget. In the budget address was also an unspecified savings from the Agency of Human Services which we will review.
A key takeaway from the budget address, for me, was to "think differently". That is one of the reasons I ran to represent Essex Junction and hopefully one of the reasons you voted for me. We need a fresh, open minded look at state government. I will continue to be open minded, question current processes/policy and move away from making decisions in a silo by thinking about the entire system and unintended consequences made by our decisions.
You can listen to and read the Governor's address here.
As always I want to hear from you. Please reach out if you have any questions or comments.
Thank you for reading!
It has been an exciting and exhausting couple weeks. Being sworn in to represent Essex Junction was an honor. Having Sam and Jon watching made the day that much better. Sam has learned a lot in the last few months about campaigning, the three branches of government and the statehouse. During their drive to Montpelier on our first day, Jon asked Sam why he thought I might be good at this job. Sam didn't hesitate when he said "because she speaks up". I will continue to speak up for Essex Junction residents and at the same time teach Sam the importance of being engaged.
Listening to both Governor Shumlin's departing speech and Governor Scott's inaugural address was inspiring. There is much about Vermont that is special - the landscape, the people, the lake and the many ways we lead the nation. But we have many challenges ahead - water clean-up, the opioid epidemic, and aging population. I look forward to tackling these challenges with the thoughtful representatives serving this biennium and with your input.
Mitzi Johnson, Representative from South Hero, was elected as Speaker of the House. I wholeheartedly supported this decision. Mitzi brings a wealth of information from her role as House Appropriations chair and is a strong advocate for results based accountability. She has a vision for the House that I believe in and support.
During the first week committee assignments were made and I landed in the healthcare committee. As some of you know Jon had a health crisis back in 2006 and again in 2013. So although I don't have any policy experience, I have practical experience and look forward to ensuring our healthcare system works for our residents. I will be posting much more about the healthcare committee in the coming days, weeks and months.
As exciting as the last few weeks have been, they have also been exhausting. Adjusting to a new schedule, meeting new people and learning as if drinking from a fire house - definitely take a toll. That is why this website has been slow in coming online. For that I apologize, but look forward to more frequent updates.
Don't hesitate to reach out with questions and comments. If you want me to write about a particular topic, please let me know. Best way to reach me: firstname.lastname@example.org or 373-0599.
Thanks for reading!