Public Assets Institute > Policy Areas > Vermont Budget > Statement on Gov. Phil Scott’s Jan. 26, 2021 Budget Address

Statement on Gov. Phil Scott’s Jan. 26, 2021 Budget Address

Over the past year Gov. Phil Scott has recognized that many Vermonters needed help to meet their basic needs during the pandemic. His administration deserves credit for applying the power of state government, with the help of billions of dollars in federal aid, to meet those needs.

The governor acknowledged in his Budget Address today that many Vermonters were struggling even before the pandemic. Our State of Working Vermont 2020 report notes that many Vermonters—especially Black and brown Vermonters, low-income Vermonters, and Vermonters with disabilities—had not recovered from the Great Recession when the pandemic-driven recession began last year.

Federal aid has helped thousands of Vermonters and Vermont businesses make ends meet over this last year. It also allowed the state to spend money on things that have historically received inadequate investment, such as affordable housing, higher education, and child care. But instead of cautioning that this is one-time money that shouldn’t set the standard for budgets to come, the governor and Legislature should chart a course to continue to meet not only Vermonters’ basic needs, such as food, but also those needs that it took a global pandemic to reveal and address.

The goal cannot be to return to business as usual, or to the systemic inequities that harm many Vermonters. We need to aim higher and live up to the statutory goals of the state budget—”to address the needs of the people of Vermont in a way that advances human dignity and equity.”

Vermont has the resources to do this, but it also takes the will of our leaders. We cannot get there by aiming only at the governor’s goal of minimal budget growth. In fact, that priority insures we won’t get there.

Posted by Stephanie Yu on January 26, 2021 at 4:08 pm

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