MONTPELIER – On Thursday, the Vermont Senate passed its version of the 2022 state budget, and a day later , Governor Phil Scott expressed concern about the $7.17 billion spending plan.
“I have concerns mainly around the ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funding,” Scott said at Friday’s COVID-19 briefing. “This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with a billion dollars to put towards tangible things that I think are so necessary and transformational in so many ways if we do it right, and I don’t think they’re doing it right.”
The budget makes investments in infrastructure, housing, broadband and the Vermont State Colleges System, among other areas of focus.
Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint said lawmakers sought to meet immediate needs while balancing the long-term ones.
“This bill reflects what your citizen legislature has heard from constituents, organizations, and businesses from across the state,” said Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint. “One of the hardest parts of our work is seeing all the needs of our constituents, doing the very best to address those needs, and knowing we still may fall short. Because the needs are so many. This budget seeks to meet immediate needs, while also addressing some longer-term needs. This is the complicated dance we must do.”
More than $478 million in federal funding was appropriated in the budget, but more than half has been set aside for further consideration into next year’s legislative session.
The Vermont State Colleges System released a statement supporting the proposed appropriation of $88.9 million for state colleges.
“The legislature is supporting a historic investment in the Vermont State Colleges System and a tremendous boost to affordability for our students,” said VSCS Chancellor Sophie Zdatny. “These actions are an incredible signal of support for the Vermont State Colleges System, our ongoing system transformation, and our students.”
The Senate also passed H.438, the Capital Bill.
“This year the Capital Bill devotes over $127 million to the State’s brick and mortar,” said Sen. Joe Benning, Chair of the Senate Institutions Committee. “Among many other things promoted and supported by this bill, we are most proud of the direction in which we are taking our corrections and mental health systems. The bill funds facilities that seek to promote more humane treatment for both populations. Senate Institutions looks forward to exploring promotion of this concept through our entire corrections, mental health, and juvenile treatment systems.”
After the House and Senate come to an agreement on the budget, it’ll need Governor Scott’s signature to pass.