Cutting our commitment

The message couldn’t have been clearer this week from three former officials of the Vermont Agency of Human Services. They said budgets proposed by both the administration and the Legislature would result in cuts to services for many of the state’s most vulnerable citizens. They also called on political leaders to restore the commitment to helping people in need during difficult economic times that Vermont historically has shown.

The former officials, Con Hogan, Tom Davis, and Cheryl Mitchell delivered their message at a State House press conference organized by Public Assets Institute on April 7, 2010. The event accompanied the release of our latest report: 2011 Budget: Cutting the Commitment to Vermonters, which contrasts the state’s response to the current recession to the actions taken by the governor and the Legislature during the recession of the early 1990s.

Twenty years ago, the Vermont raised taxes and put more state resources into human services to meet the increased demand from people struggling in the recession. Today, the Legislature is proposing to put additional federal funds into human services, which was also done in the early 1990s, but it has been cutting state funding.

Con Hogan and Cheryl Mitchell both led the Agency of Human Services in the 1990s. Tom Davis served in the administration of Gov. Tom Salmon and headed the agency in the mid-1970s. They all described a commitment to improving the lives of Vermonters that they see lacking in the current administration and among legislative leaders.

Video clips from the press conference can be seen at vtdigger, the online news service.

Posted by Jack Hoffman on April 9, 2010 at 3:45 pm

2 Responses to “Cutting our commitment”

  1. Ralph Howe says:

    Bravo. The economic stupidity of cutting these services will only be revealed to the trogdolites when the huge consequential costs come home to roost—presumably after they are safely tucked in their warm beds.

  2. Rep. Cynthia Browning says:

    Forget pushing to raise taxes now. That is not even the right thing to do for the economy: both the spending cuts and raising taxes weaken economic activity.

    Instead, we should use our high bond rating to borrow a relatively small amount, say $20 million, to be used to finance investments in future productivity of state government. We could finance the $10 m in the regular budget that goes toward information technology. We could finance the $13 m in spending from the Challenges for Change proposals that are categorized as “investments” in future efficiencies and savings.

    This would be better than agreeing to get the last $20 m in C4C savings from unspecified and unknown cuts in spending to be determined later.

    I feel that we are engaged in Tinker Bell Budgeting. Everybody close your eyes and clap really hard and the budget will be balanced.

    I am not clapping.

    Rep. Cynthia Browning
    Arlington, VT