It's been a few weeks since my last legislative update. The first few weeks of the session have been a lot of moving pieces in my committees. Still, we have only managed to work our way through a few pieces of more secondary legislation. With our testimony on proficiency-based learning beginning next week, there hasn't been a lot to report on. In this update I am going to focus on the topic of climate change because it is such a prevalent topic in the Senate Natural Resources Committee.
We understand the importance of the issue and the need to do our best to meet the challenges ahead to build a better, cleaner future for all us and our children. Gov. Scott used the following line in his budget address this year, "it's important to note we spend many millions—if not hundreds of millions—of dollars in clean energy and climate change mitigation initiatives each year." This made me wonder how much we do spend at the directive of public policy in Vermont on climate change mitigation. So, I asked, and here is what I found. That the State, through its own budget and through entities the legislature has created, invests over $200 million annually in climate change mitigation.
How does that compare in comparison to other programs and policy objections? We spend about $100 million annually in paving our roads. We spend about $50 million in water quality. Our whole agency of Commerce and Community Development, i.e., economic development is about $35 million. All of these investments are less than our directed investment in climate change initiatives.
So, where is the money invested in combating climate change? We spend about $79 million in efficiency investments, most of which are directed to electrical efficiency from Efficiency Vermont and other Efficiency Utilities. We spend about $74 million in what I would categories as energy transformation and $4 million on electric vehicle and electric vehicle infrastructure incentives. The remaining $80 million is spent on public transit and commuter-friendly infrastructure in the Agency of Transportation.
I think as proposals such as TCI (Carbon Tax), and the Vermont Green New Deal and others are being debated at the State House, we must look at where we are already investing and are those dollars spent as efficiently as possible? Before we ask Vermonters for more of their hard-earned dollars, we need to make sure we're spending the $6 billion-plus they give us each year as wisely as possible. The fact that we such a substantial investment in climate change mitigation shows how serious we are about combating the issue.
Sen. Corey Parent
Franklin County & Alburgh