Dear Neighbors and Friends,
I hope this finds you warm and healthy. The pandemic has revealed how this pandemic is not landing equally on everyone. Taking care of our most vulnerable Vermonters and our small businesses is at the forefront of my work in the legislature.
We are heading into the fourth week of the session, and here are some of the highlights from the past week. I also send out bi-monthly e-newsletters that have more detailed updates, and if you would like to receive them please send me an email or sign up on my website saracoffeyvt.com and I will add you to the distribution list.
There are now 48,220 people who have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Vermont. Vermonters over the age of 75 can make an appointment to get a vaccine either online at www.healthvermont.gov/MyVaccine or by calling 855-722-7878 Monday to Friday 8:15 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. and Saturday to Sunday 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
The COVID-19 vaccine supply from the federal government is still limited, which is why vaccinations are being rolled out in phases, beginning with those who are most likely to experience severe illness and death from COVID-19. The Health Department will provide more information about registration for the next eligible groups when it is available.
For more information about the vaccines available and progress in Vermont visit the Vaccine Dashboard at: https://www.healthvermont.gov/covid-19/vaccine/covid-19-vaccine-dashboard
GOOD NEWS FOR PROPERTY TAX RATES
On January 19th State Economist Tom Kavet issued a report with a revised revenue update and projections. Across all funds, total revenues are above their forecasted targets. This is good news for the Education fund and for property tax rates.
This revenue update is dramatically different from what was known when the Education Tax Rate Letter was issued on Dec. 1, 2020. Based on the best information at that time, the December 1st letter forecast that education property tax bills would increase by an average of nine percent, with a 9.5 cent increase on the average property tax rate.
The legislature is now looking at a much lower increase on property taxes of roughly one penny. As we get more information about actual school budgets this may change, but we don’t expect it to change dramatically.
DIGGING INTO BUDGETS
Last Tuesday the Governor gave his budget address to the Joint Assembly, and now the money committees will consider the requests, hear testimony, dig into the details and also consider what might be missing from the Governor’s recommended budget and develop budgets that are aligned with our values and priorities.
The Appropriations Committee will be hosting two public hearings on Monday, February 8th at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. on the Governor’s budget recommendations. Information on how to register can be found here: https://legislature.vermont.gov/home/noteworthy/announcements/#a273
My committee, House Corrections and Institutions, is responsible for the Capital Budget— a two-year budget that funds infrastructure projects through State bonded dollars. Projects range from maintenance and improvements at the State House, our historic sites, state forests and parks, state-owned buildings and facilities to investments in clean water projects, housing and the Building Communities Grants Program. We will be working with a two-year budget of $123 million and over the next four weeks we will take testimony on the various line items and requests.
COFFEE WITH COFFEY: SUNDAY FEBRUARY 7, 3–4 p.m.
I continue to host my monthly “Coffee with Coffey” on the first Sunday of every month from 3–4 p.m. where I share legislative updates and hear what’s on your mind. For my next coffee hour, I have invited two legislative colleagues, Rep. Mollie Burke (Brattleboro) and Rep. Becca White (Hartford) who both serve on the House Transportation Committee, to talk about the Transportation Modernization Act, an initiative that seeks to address carbon emissions and expand public transportation options for rural Vermonters and more.
Please use this Zoom link if you would like to join us: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87653733300?pwd=c0pDdk9EcHJKUnUzQjY0cm0wbEw3Zz09
With every challenge there are opportunities for change, and that is the spirit that I am bringing to this work to ensure that no Vermonter is left behind and that we can build a bright future together. Please reach out if you need help, consider joining me at my next coffee hour this coming Sunday, and most important, stay healthy and safe.
State Representative, Windham-1/ Guilford & Vernon
Vice Chair, House Corrections & Institutions Committee