MONTPELIER — The Vermont Senate on Thursday passed H. 439, the FY 2022 budget bill, which appropriates a total of $7.17 billion to meet the ongoing costs of operating state government. The bill also makes investments in Vermont’s infrastructure and human capital from the federal funds available from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the CARES Act (CRF).
“This bill reflects what your citizen legislature has heard from constituents, organizations, and businesses from across the state. One of the hardest parts of our work is seeing all the needs of our constituents, doing the very best to address those needs, and knowing we still may fall short. Because the needs are so many. This budget seeks to meet immediate needs, while also addressing some longer-term needs. This is the complicated dance we must do,” added Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint.
The bill appropriates $478.6 million of the ARPA State Fiscal Relief Fund, while reserving over half of these flexible funds for further consideration in the 2022 session. Among other expenditures, that allocation would see $153.8 million spent on broadband, $115 million on clean water investments and $132.7 million on workforce, higher education and economic development.
“We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to invest one-time federal funds towards Vermont’s future in a way that honors what each of our communities need,” said Balint. “The senate, house, and administration largely agree on spending priorities, including broadband, affordable housing, and tackling climate change. We can take action in several of these areas now and take time to do careful, deliberate work on others.”
The senate also passed H.438, the Capital Bill.
“This year the Capital Bill devotes over $127 million to the State’s brick and mortar,” said Sen. Joe Benning, D-Caledonia, chair of the Senate Institutions Committee. “Among many other things promoted and supported by this bill, we are most proud of the direction in which we are taking our corrections and mental health systems. The bill funds facilities that seek to promote more humane treatment for both populations. Senate Institutions looks forward to exploring promotion of this concept through our entire corrections, mental health, and juvenile treatment systems.”