(Host) Governor Peter Shumlin delivered his first budget address to the legislature this afternoon.
He described his message as "sobering but necessary".
(Shumlin) "The budget that I propose today represents a General Fund spending reduction of over $25 million from last year. This is the first time in a decade in which state spending is lower than the previous year."
(Host) Shumlin is recommending a $1.2 billion spending plan that addresses a deficit of nearly $176 million.
The governor says that, with health care as the largest area of growth in the state budget, costs must be brought under control – and can be, under a plan designed by Dr. William Hsiao.
(Shumlin)" This is yet another reason why it is so important that we pass a single payer health care plan that Dr. Hsiao estimates will save over $500 million in the first year alone."
(Host) He proposes folding the Catamount Health program into the Vermont Health Access Program, known as VHAP, to create one single health care pool for Vermont.
Shumlin also recommends that the state assess taxes on health insurance companies and dentists, and to raise assessments on hospitals and nursing homes.
While the budget decreases funding for mental health services, it also includes a plan to replace the Vermont State Hospital with a new state of the art facility.
The Governor says that despite the state’s high deficit, he is committed to not raising broad-based taxes.