Rep. Gina Galfetti's Floor Report

Legislature declines to save $7.5 million, continues free housing for able-bodied people without kids

By Rep. Gina Galfetti

As another cold day settled over Montpelier, I quickly made my way into the House chamber. For today – Friday, Feb. 3 – was the 2nd reading of H.145, the budget adjustment. 

The budget adjustment is usually non-controversial. It ties up loose ends and investigates which programs and expenditures are under budgeted and which are on track. Money is re-allocated as needed. 

Rep. Gina Galfetti

However, 2023 is not an average year. With the Progressives and Democrats in control of a veto proof majority, nothing in the State House follows a linear track. The physics of good government are suspended. One-party arrogance rules. Thus, $90,000,000 was added to the total. 

The budget adjustment had come to the floor after being voted out of the House Appropriations Committee by a vote of 8-4. Only 4 opposed as there are only 4 Republicans on the Committee. One of the members, Paul Clifford (R-Rutland), had offered an amendment that sought to cut $7.5 million of the $13.4 million in new, general fund money allocated to the General Assistance Temporary Housing or hotel voucher program. This amendment would have effectively made able-bodied folks with no demonstrable need ineligible for a free room. It would not have put anyone over the age of 60 or those with minor children in danger of losing their housing. 

Clifford rose from his seat in the well and offered the amendment again on the house floor in a last ditch effort to save the taxpayers $7.5 million. It is rare that an amendment that fails in Committee passes on the floor. But with 51 new and hopefully astute members perhaps Representative Clifford stood a chance. 

Other members rose in support of the Amendment and spoke passionately about how their communities had been affected by the program. They spoke of the increases in crime, overdoses and deaths. Every manner of crime was reported on the rise in the vicinity where these hotels are most concentrated. 

Here in the Barre area we are not ignorant to these facts. From the Pierre Motel to the Hollow Motel the voucher program and its warehousing of folks has concentrated both drug dealers and users in a small area with families, the elderly and the disabled. The fact that a person of any means with no demonstrated hardship can get a room is not a demonstration of humanity but rather a demonstration of ignorance. I am certain that older folks, those with disabilities and those with children who are in this program would take great comfort knowing that folks who are of working age and means would no longer be able to shelter in their midst without explanation. 

The floor debate rolled on and after a number of members rose to speak it was clear that Clifford’s amendment would fail. The legislature had decided that rather than protect our most vulnerable, us Vermonters will continue to foot the bill for all, wasting money and resources which could go to far worthier causes like the affordable housing, treatment centers or day-care. 

The greatest overspend that was put into the so-called budget “adjustment” was an additional $50,000,000 dollars Vermont Housing Conservation Board or VHCB. 

This money was touted as being essential to developing more affordable housing. And in the state that things are in, who could say no to more affordable housing? But look carefully and you will see that the VHCB cost per unit is between 300 and 400 thousand dollars. Then upon completion this will translate into subsidized housing, housing that will never be owned by low or middle income Vermonters. 

The other problem with the VHCB is that it rarely funds small scale projects in rural communities. Many of the VHCB’s projects are in Chittenden County. This does nothing to address the housing crunch across the state. However, by putting additional funding in the budget adjustment for the VHCB it is possible to downplay the amount that will surely be given in the Big Bill, or main spending bill this year. Working Vermonters, the dying breed that we are, would like to see our budgets adjusted not added to in a slight of hand to take the sting out of the next blood letting. 

Gina Galfetti is the Representative for the Washington/Orange District and can be contacted at: 802.461.3520 or

1 reply »

  1. Gina ! Thank you for all your efforts, for all the updates and keeping us informed. Keep up the good work, stay strong among all those senseless ignorant politicians.

Leave a Reply