Vermont Legislature passes state budget
MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont lawmakers pass the largest budget in state history Friday.
The $8.5 billion spending plan makes massive investments in housing and child care paid for by new taxes and fees.
The centerpiece is a $150 million plan to make child care more affordable and accessible by subsidizing wages for child care providers and financial help for families. Backers of the bill say having a fully funded and staffed child care system will keep parents at work and improve the financial well-being of families and the state economy. It’s funded by a 0.44% payroll tax split between employers and employees.
Lawmakers say the bill gets at some of the core issues facing Vermont’s economic and social well-being. “Hardworking families are facing impossible decisions -- whether to keep working, whether to continue working, whether to go back to work, leave Vermont, and even whether the parents or inlaws can find housing and come to assist with child care,” said Rep. Jessica Brumsted, D-Shelburne.
The budget funds some of the initiatives through new fees, including $20 million in new fees at the DMV. One example is license renewals or registrations, which will cost about 20% more.
The governor has big concerns over the reliance on the new payroll tax and the other fees and has threatened to veto the budget.
The lack of funding at pandemic levels for emergency housing also remains another sticking point for some Democrats, who have said they might sustain a veto unless more money is added. Federal funding for the hotel-motel program is set to run dry this summer and housing advocates say that could potentially put upwards of 1,800 Vermonters who have relied on the program out on the street.
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