New details on how sequester cuts will impact Vermont - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

New details on how sequester cuts will impact Vermont

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MONTPELIER, Vt. -

"It doesn't have to happen, but we need to manage it," said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont.

One-point-three million dollars by June, another $7 million a year later and $15 million to follow-- that's how much the governor and state budget experts say federal sequestration will cost Vermonters over the next three years.

The cuts are spread across a number of agencies, and will hit the unemployed, working students and fuel assistance programs.

"We're trying to manage it. We're trying to deal with it as best we can, to mitigate the pain as much as we can, but we do not have the resources to replace those federal dollars," Shumlin said.

The cuts amount to a fraction of a percent of the $1.85 billion Vermont receives from the federal government every year.

Shumlin says Washington, D.C., must rethink sequestration.

Vt. House Speaker Shap Smith says despite planning for cuts, Vermonters are likely to carry the burden of extra cost or reduced services.

"My concern, quite frankly, is the notion that the federal government will act. They have not shown themselves capable of doing so," Smith said.

Democrat Cynthia Browning of Arlington joined Republican representatives in voting against the recently passed House budget bill which includes about $27 million in new taxes. She says the new report confirms her concern: a lack spending thrift in the face of unknown federal cuts

"We always say in Vermont, well, we balance our budget, we don't have a deficit. We only balance our budget because the federal government gives us a truckload of money and they don't balance their budget, so this is like a cascade," Browning said.

The federal shortfalls come as Vermont struggles with declining revenues and population. The new projections can and will change again though if the federal government shifts course on sequestration.

Federal funds amount to about 35 percent of total state spending. Many of the legislators we spoke with Thursday had not seen the report yet.

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