State budget cuts out Monday mean college students will pay more, mental health programs will be able to do less, and some state workers are losing their jobs.
Democrats and Republicans say the list of $19.7 million is painful, but necessary to balance the budget.
That list falls far short of the total of $66 million they need to cut. But it was all that both sides could agree to now before the full Legislature returns to tackle the rest.
Get ready for big changes-- starting on the roads.
To save money, the state is closing four rest areas; in Highgate, Sharon, Hartford, and Randolph.
"If they close it down it would be an inconvenience certainly. I noticed a lot of cars in the parking lot," said Art Borror, of Pittsfield, N.H.
College students take a hit. VSAC had to trim three-quarters of a million dollars, meaning less money for grants students were counting on-- anywhere from $75-$100 a grant.
And UVM took a $1.5 million cut, which means less student aid.
Fees at state parks are going up several dollars.
And one of the biggest hits-- mental health agencies cut 8 percent. It will significantly impact services and officials say could lead to less treatment.
"It is a very challenging environment," said Robert Appel, of the Human Rights Commission.
An example of the cuts-- the Human Rights Commission. It enforces state discrimination laws working on about 100 cases a year. Trimming $23,000 means cut backs on investigator hours.
"We will be slower to respond to complaints," Appel said. "We get calls daily about is this discrimination-- will you open an investigation?"
Across state government accessing help could take longer.
The state laid off 35 workers and is not going to fill another 15 positions. Also anyone making over $60,000 will get a 5 percent pay cut-- a savings of $225,000.
"It will get tougher, that's right," Gov. Douglas said.
Douglas says these cuts seem bad, but just to balance the budget lawmakers will need to find another $40 million over the next few weeks.
And this is just the beginning-- next year's budget could have a potential $100 million hole in it already.
"I don't think we can look at the order of magnitude of changes that we are going to have to consider in the next few months without looking at the possibility of stopping some programs entirely," Douglas said. "There is a limit to what we can do nickeling and diming programs across the board cuts as we've done a few times."
Held harmless this go around; the Department of Public Safety, the state's attorneys, and the Defender General's office. And the Judiciary has yet to hand in their cuts, which could mean courts closing or layoffs.
The Douglas Administration and key Democratic lawmakers plan to vote on the cuts on Wednesday, but before that, they will hold a public hearing on the cuts Tuesday.
Sunday, May 19 2013 8:39 PM EDT2013-05-20 00:39:09 GMT
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