Education Spending - March 21, 2024

The House Education Committee attempted to get a “big picture” of the education financing challenges on Thursday morning. Julia Richter (Senior Fiscal Analyst, Joint Fiscal Office) noted that the material she was presenting would seem familiar because it is meant to be. Chairman Conlon wanted a refresher as they began to review the current situation. Richter stated these are the same slides she presented about a month ago with some updates based on recent data and budgets. Her presentation showed the various commitments of Education Fund dollars and the ways in which school districts receive them.

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Climate Change Cost Recovery (S.259) - March 21, 2024

Ben Edgerly Walsh (Climate & Energy Program Director, VPIRG) testified on S.259 in the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday afternoon.

He shared in his presentation that VPIRG supports this bill because the cost of the climate crisis is “staggering”, and Vermonters should not be responsible for “shouldering the burden.” They see this legislation as a medium to long-term strategy. The legal process will take years, as will the rule-making process.

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10% for Vermont Program - March 21, 2024

Treasurer Mike Pieciak spoke to the Senate Economic Development Committee on Thursday morning about “10% for Vermont,” a local investment program.

The program authorizes the Treasurer to invest up to 10% of the State’s average daily cash balance for economic development in Vermont.  As noted in an announcement from the Office of the State Treasurer “the State’s average daily cash balance has grown substantially in recent years due to increased state revenues allowing the program’s lending capacity to expand from $39M to $100M and then expanded to $115M.  In total, when combined with funds that were not committed from the original program, there is now $85M available to support local economic development. 

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Changes to VEGI - March 20, 2024

H.10 was presented in the House of Representatives on Tuesday. Representative Toleno spoke for the Committee on Appropriations, reporting in favor of its passage.

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Cooperative Education Services (H.630) - March 20, 2024

Legislative Counsel began the House Ways & Means Committee meeting on Wednesday with a discussion regarding the inclusion of Career and Technical Education centers (CTEs) in the Boards of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES) model that in H.630

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Future of VEGI - March 19, 2024

Chairman Marcotte presented Jessica Hartleben (Executive Director, Vermont Economic Progress Council) to the House Commerce Committee on Tuesday morning. She focused her presentation on the Vermont Employment Growth Incentive (VEGI) and a proposed forgivable loan incentive. She shared that the Council supports S.247 as it sends a message to the business community that “Vermont is encouraging businesses to come… stay… and create better workforce opportunities for Vermonters.”

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Miscellaneous Education Bill (H.874) - March 20, 2024

The House Ways and Means Committee reviewed H.874 on Wednesday.

The bill proposes several amendments to education law in Vermont. The amendments include repealing the High School Completion Program and making changes to the State's adult education and literacy program. The bill also aims to continue funding for the community schools program, require school districts to include military-related options in career development and postsecondary planning resources, and require the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) to include information on military-related options in planning resources.

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Changes to Clean Heat Standard (S.305) - March 20, 2024

Senator Bray provided an overview of S.305 to the Senate floor on Wednesday afternoon. He described the bill as creating a number of fixes. He reminded Senators that they had passed the Energy Efficiency Modernization Act in 2020, which was a three-year pilot program allowing electrical efficiency utilities to use $2M of efficiency charge money for pilot projects focused on energy reduction. However, the climate crisis is being driven by the thermal sector and transportation so they asked them to see if they could find solutions in these areas.

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VOTE: Basic Needs Budget - March 20, 2024

S.246, which amends the Vermont basic needs budget, appeared on the Senate Floor on Wednesday afternoon. Senator Clarkson outlined the members that assisted in a Technical Advisory Committee. They reviewed the Basic Needs Budget and Livable Wage metrics which are assessed by the Joint Fiscal Office (JFO) biennially and presented to the Senate Committees.

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VOTE: Workforce Development Governance (H.707) - March 20, 2024

Representative from the House Commerce Committee presented a revised version of H.707 on the House floor on Wednesday. The bill is an overhaul of Vermont’s workforce governance oversight which focused on workforce development, education, and training.  The recommendations made in the bill are a direct result of the creative of a task force in 2022 consisting of key players with the State workforce system and a workforce specialist consultant. 

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