House Approves Budget, Protects Rainy Day Fund

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(Host) The House gave final approval to its budget adjustment bill Wednesday. It also defeated an effort to use the state’s rainy day fund to balance this year’s budget.

The key part of the legislation is a plan to deal with an unexpected revenue shortfall of $15 million during the current fiscal year. The bill makes some cuts in the existing state budget and it calls for the Woodstock jail to close at the end of the month. But it makes up most of the deficit by taking money from more than a dozen dedicated funds in state government.

Burlington Representative David Zuckerman urged House members to leave these funds alone and instead tap into the state’s rainy day budget fund. It’s a fund that has roughly $50 million in it:

(Zuckerman) “What this is addressing is whether or not we should take money from these special dedicated funds as a last resort, or whether we should take them from these funds because apparently removing them from these funds is a lesser priority than money that’s sitting in the bank in the rainy day fund.”

(Host) House Appropriations Chairman Richard Westman opposed the plan because he thinks the Legislature may need the money later in the session:

(Westman) “And one of the things that we are all very concerned about is the fact that the refunds in April may be higher than what they have been in the past¿. So we clearly are reluctant to take out of the rainy day fund before we know the scope of the whole problem.”

(Host) The House defeated the Zuckerman amendment by a four-to-one margin. The measure now goes to the Senate for its consideration.

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