Vermont lawmakers to tackle struggling state finances

Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 3:34 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont lawmakers are set to return to the virtual Statehouse in about three weeks where they will tackle state finances which are millions of dollars in the red. Our Calvin Cutler reports on how Vermont's coffers are holding up.

It's no secret the pandemic has punctured a hole in every state fund, mostly because consumption taxes fell through the floor.

This spring, the general fund took a big hit with the lack of meals and rooms tax when thousands of restaurants and hotels closed in the spring to keep COVID-19 at bay.

The general fund is lower than forecast by about $135 million. But there is a silver lining; economists say the general fund surpasses expectations by about $25 million because of late tax filings.

On the education fund front, which is fueled by property taxes, lawmakers will have to find a solution this session, as well. The Legislature's joint fiscal office says the ed fund is running a deficit of about $92 million in the next fiscal year.

In the transportation fund, which keeps roads and bridges intact, the state is down about $21 million, mostly because people weren't filling up their cars and weren't making transactions at the DMV.

Next week, state and legislative economists are presenting an updated revenue forecast for fiscal years 2021 and 2022.

So how will the millions of dollars that came in from the CARES Act play into the budget? As of now, the state has spent just over $1 billion of the $1.25 billion from the CARES Act. The money went to hospitals, schools, businesses and others.

But we are not allowed to use the remaining cash to fill holes in the budget. So much of how we can use the remaining cash and a potential second stimulus package depends on Congress and whether they can come to an agreement.

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