Forum to address budget choices

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(Host) Vermont is facing some hard choices in the coming year. There are large projected deficits in budgets for public services, road projects, education, health care and more.

So will those budget choices make the Vermont we know now a very different place in the future? That’s the question being asked by the Vermont Children’s Forum and the Public Assets Institute.

Tomorrow in Montpelier an all-day forum will be held to address the budget issues facing the state, and the public is encouraged to attend.

Barbara Postman is the Public Policy Coordinator for the Vermont Children’s Forum, and says hard as these choices are, they can’t be ignored:

(Postman) “We can’t hide our head in the sand and say we don’t want to know what’s coming. We have to have it out there. But we also know we need to collaborate and figure out the best way to pay for services and the best way to make it fair for people and really be aware of the Vermont that we want to create. And that’s what we want to focus on. What is the Vermont we want and how do we pay for it?”

(Host) Postman says the problem goes beyond funding for roads and bridges and threatens some of the advances Vermont has made in areas like health care. She notes a new study that shows Vermont leads the nation in the number of children with health insurance:

(Postman) “We’re very proud of that. And was that something we’re willing to give up? Or, our education – We do very well nationally in education. There’s a lot of pressure to cut spending. But if we need to cut spending, what are we going to cut? What is it that we don’t want the schools to do?”

(Host) Tomorrow’s forum includes a workshop with a national representative from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, as well as local religious leaders and health care officials. It begins at 8:30 in the morning and goes until 4pm at the Capital Plaza Hotel in Montpelier.

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