House Takes Up 2013 State Budget

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Members of the Vermont House are debating the $1.3 billion 2013 state budget today.

That’s the amount that would be supported by state taxes and doesn’t include various other sources of money, including the federal government.

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Martha Heath says more than $16 million would be set aside in case of unanticipated challenges.

(Heath) "This is a responsible budget that provides for the essential services of state government while saving money to address an uncertain future."

Health says the budget represents a 6 percent increase from the current year, and she says almost half of that is to pay for recovery from Tropical Storm Irene.

(Heath) "The past year has brought Vermont unprecedented natural disasters. We will be dealing with the effect of these storms, particularly Tropical Storm Irene, for years to come."

Among the areas where the state had to invest, in part because of the storm, is mental health services. The state plans to invest $20 million in community mental health.

The state is still trying to find an alternative for the state hospital, which was forced to close after heavy damage from the floods of Irene.

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