House fiscal 2017 budget
The House passed its fiscal 2017 budget along with tax and fee bills raising approximately $49 million in new revenue to support it.1 The House budget came in at $5.81 billion, approximately $1 million above the governor’s recommendation. Overall, the House made minor changes to the governor’s spending plan.
The House did reject the governor’s proposals to fund higher-education savings accounts for children and the Step-up program, which provides a free semester of college classes to first generation and low-income students to encourage them to pursue higher education. The House also cut the governor’s proposed $1 million for additional security at state facilities, but may include it in the annual bill to fund long-term construction, maintenance, and improvement projects. The House added a 2 percent increase for designated regional mental health agencies that ensure services throughout the state, and $1 million for the child care subsidy program, which helps low-income families pay for child care. The $1 million is a small step toward funding the additional $9.2 million the Child Care Financial Assistance Program (CCFAP) needs to operate at current market rates as estimated by the Department for Children and Families.
The House agreed with many of the governor’s spending recommendations, but rejected several of his revenue and savings initiatives, including a proposal to shorten the process to involuntarily medicate certain mental health patients and a $17 million assessment on dentists and independent doctors. The House did embrace the governor’s proposal to increase the fee on mutual funds, but went further than the governor’s proposal, to bring in an additional $7.6 million. This change brings the fee more in line with what other states charge and will be passed on to mutual fund investors. Providers of ambulance services would pay a new assessment, which will generate $1.2 million annually, if the House version stands. This change was supported by the Vermont Ambulance Association.
Some employers who don’t provide health insurance also would see a fee increase. Currently, employers with four or more full-time equivalent employees not covered by the company’s health insurance plan pay an annual assessment for each uncovered employee to help defray the state’s costs for uninsured individuals. The House plan would raise the base fee and change to a tiered system where businesses with more uncovered employees would pay higher fees. This change is estimated to add $4.8 million to the General Fund.
- The House bills are H.571 (driver restoration), H.872 (fees), H.873 (tax changes), H.875 (appropriations), and H.877 (transportation funding). [↩]
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