A political firestorm over the
state budget erupted today at the Statehouse. Democratic leaders and
Republican Governor Jim Douglas are locked in a struggle that threatens to
derail a bipartisan effort to resolve big budget issues.
The impact of Vermont’s
revenue shortfall became very real this afternoon.
That’s when a list of nearly $40 million in budget
cuts was presented to key lawmakers and the Douglas Administration. The group needs to select $25 million in
reductions from the list in the next few days.
It’s a lean budget year in Vermont. The
economy has slowed, so there’s less money coming into state government. Demand
for services – like road repairs and health care – is high. And
so are the political tensions at the Statehouse.
(Host) House Minority leader Steve Adams made an emotional return to the Statehouse on Tuesday, a month after having heart surgery. Adams told his House colleagues that his recuperation is going well and that he expects to be back in Montpelier on a full time basis after Town Meeting Day. But Adams said his return was difficult because of the death of his seat mate, Lyndonville Representative Cola Hudson, late last month: (Adams) "My return is obviously bittersweet I’ve sat in this chair here for seven years and have had the wisdom of seat # 113 guide me in many of the decisions that I’ve made and I as all of you do miss Cola." (Host) Dorset Rep. Patti Komline is the acting head of the House GOP caucus until Adams returns.
Outgoing Public Safety Commissioner Kerry Sleeper says the impact of drug use is the biggest challenge facing Vermont’s law enforcement community; The Vermont Institute of Natural Science dedicates its Quechee campus in honor of Senator Jim Jeffords and his late wife, Liz; Peace activists adorn the Statehouse with symbolic flags representing those killed in
Iraq; and commentator Paul Richardson remembers the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Last fall we joined a group of tourists at the Statehouse and went along on a tour led by Jim Murray, one of the volunteer guides. With visitors arriving by the busload for early glimpses of fall foliage, it seems appropriate to take that tour once again.