What’s in the $8 billion Vt. budget?
MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - The Vermont Legislature passed an $8 billion budget that contains what the governor and others have called “once in a lifetime” investments. The spending plan dedicates millions to economic development, workforce, and housing, while also providing significant tax relief.
Under the Legislature’s spending plan, many Vermonters, like Ruby Verge from Barre, may have tax dollars coming back to them.
“It’s critical to being a single mom and needing that extra money to catch up on bills,” Verge said.
Under the plan, Verge and other parents receive a $1,000 tax credit, picking up where the federal Child Tax Credit left off. It will allow her to buy gymnastics lessons for her daughter. “It’s quite costly, so it’s nice to be able to do things for her,” Verge said.
And there’s tax relief for property owners too. A windfall in the Education Fund means property tax rates will drop 14-cents on every $100 of assessed property value on average. There are also big investments in housing, too.
“The demand is oh so incredible. The issue we will have to think through is what will it be like in a year or two. How can we sustain some of this level,” said Michael Monte with the Champlain Housing Trust.
There’s more funding to develop rental homes, mobile homes, and for property managers to rehab old units. And there’s $15 million for middle-income housing -- something lawmakers say is sorely needed. “Housing is not entirely about subsidies and policies. We can have some smart use policies that can make development quicker, more timely, and less expensive,” said Sen. Michael Sirotkin, D-Chittenden County.
Act 250 updates incentivizing growth in downtown centers made it in, too. But some environmental protections for forests and were left behind in a different bill, which likely faces a veto from Governor Scott.
The budget also carves out big investments in education, funneling $29 million toward a one-year extension of universal school meals and $22 million toward PCB remediation in Vermont schools.
“It’s a little bit hard to tell right now how far this $22 million will go and we will have to see as the results come in,” said Sue Ceglowski, the executive director of the Vermont School Board Association. The process of testing schools - begins next month and will take several years.
But not everything made it into the budget. Some veterans say they’re frustrated lawmakers chose not to exempt their full retirement pay as the governor asked. And an expansion of the bottle bill also never made it across the finish line.
The budget and other final bills now head to the governor for final approval.
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