by Guy Page
House Speaker Jill Krowinski this morning announced she has sent the finalized 2023-24 state budget to Governor Phil Scott, urging him to sign it.
The $8.5 billion budget contains “funding for transitional housing programs that are needed as soon as possible” – but not extended funding for the ‘homeless hotel’ program enacted during the pandemic era. 17 Progressive and liberal Democrat House members have threatened to support a budget veto during the scheduled June 20-22 veto override session. If they follow through on their threat, their numbers and the House GOP caucus would be enough to support the veto.
Krowinski clearly wishes to avoid that possibility. She also places the blame for what the ‘gang of 17’ say is an abrupt, uncompassionate termination of emergency housing funding on Scott’s failure to develop a homeless hotel transitional plan.
Krowinski’s statement appears below:
Yesterday, the Speaker of the House, Jill Krowinski, delivered the 2024 fiscal year state budget to Governor Scott to be signed, weeks ahead of the traditional timeline. Today, she called upon the Governor to sign the budget to ensure funds allocated to assist the most vulnerable Vermonters are available as soon as possible.
“I urge Governor Scott to sign the budget without delay,” said Speaker Krowinski. “Over the last four months, the legislature engaged in a comprehensive process, taking testimony, hearing from Vermonters, and carefully weighing the diverse range of budgetary needs. The budget before the Governor has money that can be immediately allocated to communities in all 14 counties, including funding for transitional housing programs that are needed as soon as possible. Many housing and service providers have stated there is a critical need for additional staff and there are funds in the budget that would allow for wage increases and the hiring of additional personnel. I am calling on the Governor to act expeditiously, delivering critical aid to Vermonters in need of support and those that work every day to support them.
“Several federally funded programs designed to assist Vermonters during the pandemic and ongoing recovery were intended as temporary support systems. One such program, the motel program, has been instrumental in supporting Vermonters. However, we knew that it would not be available in perpetuity. For nearly two years, we have asked the Governor and his administration to present a plan to address the transition of people from the motel program into other housing. No comprehensive plan has ever been presented and now municipalities across the state are forced to manage this transition on their own.
“It is the responsibility of the governor and of the executive branch to ensure the welfare of the state and the health and safety of all Vermonters, and not having a plan for those living in the motels, is a failure of leadership. These individuals and families, who have relied on the motel program as a temporary lifeline, now face uncertainty and the risk of falling through the cracks.
“I implore Governor Scott to recognize the urgency of this matter and take action to allow the state budget to become law. Together, we can make a meaningful difference in the lives of Vermonters, providing them with the support and resources they deserve to lead successful lives. Vermonters are counting on a safe transition plan to come forward, and I will continue to use my position to make sure that the legislature provides oversight of this transition, and the administration is held accountable.”