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December 15, 2008

State Budget Cuts

One of the most clicked on websites in Vermont this morning was probably a special page set up by the Department of Finance & Management that lists $19.7 million in proposed budget cuts.

The cuts were agreed to by the Douglas administration and the Joint Fiscal Committee over the weekend, though talks have stalled on the remainder.

In all, the Douglas administration wants the special legislative committee to approve $37 million in cuts. Committee members, however, say they do not have the authority to make some of those cuts because they affect state policy. The committee believes cuts affecting policy should be discussed by the full legislature when it convenes Jan. 7, 2009.

The list was supposed to be made public at 10 AM, but web traffic was so intense that it caused some "technical difficulties". State staffers are working on the problem. I wonder if programming support has been offshored?

When they get the documents up there, what we'll see is the approved list of cuts.

Those cuts will be the subject of several meetings this week. Here is the schedule as of today:

  • Overview of Rescission & Public Hearing: Tuesday, Dec. 16th, 2-5 PM (Room 11, Statehouse).
  • Public Hearing: Wednesday, Dec. 17th, 1-4 PM (Room 11, Statehouse).
  • Committee Discussion & Vote: Friday, Dec. 19th, 9-11 AM (Room 11, Statehouse).

The Douglas administration has balked at making its entire $37 million list of proposed cuts public.

"The format for discussions was agreed to by both sides, and because of the short timeframe, all sides believed the work with the JFC was the best way to proceed," said the gov's spokesman Steve Wark about why they are not making the full list public.

One of the cuts Wark did mention is a 5 percent across-the-board salary cut for all "exempt" employees (i.e. political appointments) making $60,000 or more.

A nice gesture, but don't forget—a number of top Douglas aides for Douglas got 10-25 percent salary boost over their counterparts in Gov. Howard Dean's administration six years ago when they took office. And, they've been getting raises and bonuses ever since.

Nice work if you can get it.

Budget allocation is one of the most sensitive aspect that must be done accordingly by the responsible individual.Assigning fund for a particular program requires critical thinking for a wasted money is never easy to regain.Some states are considering revising rules on corrections. State spending was about $10 billion per state annually on corrections. Many people feel that this is far too much so are considering changes to save cash. Most people would love to see less offenders who don’t need to be jailed released and then monitored in order to free up a little more on the state budget. It is estimated that many offenders do not need to be incarcerated if they haven’t committed any violent crime. It is hard to justify locking someone away for some minor offenses. It seems some codes in the law may get some corrections of their own.

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