Higher education, human service cuts recommended

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(Host) The details of nearly $20 million in cuts to this year’s Vermont budget were released this morning.  The cuts are being recommended to offset a drop in state revenues.

The cuts include reductions in higher education: the University of Vermont will have to trim a million and half dollars from its budget, the Vermont State College system will have to cut nearly a million dollars.  And an appropriation to the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, which provides loans to students, is being reduced by three quarters of a million dollars.

Several Human Service programs are slated for major cuts. The Department of Mental Health is being asked to cut just over $2 million from its budget. And the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living is also being cut by roughly $2 million.

A number of state offices are also facing budget cuts that will most likely result in a reduction of some state employees.  These departments include the State Treasurer, the Secretary of State and the Auditor.

The Douglas Administration had asked legislative leaders to identify $37 million in cuts but Senate Appropriations chairwoman Susan Bartlett says it wasn’t possible to do this without making policy decisions. And Bartlett says those decisions should be considered by the full Legislature in January.

The Joint Fiscal Committee will hold two public hearings on the cuts this week at the Statehouse. The first will take place tomorrow afternoon – the second is scheduled for Wednesday.

On Friday, the committee is expected to vote on a final package of cuts.

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