Last week marked the beginning of the end of the 2020 legislative session. The Governor released what he’s calling a state fiscal year (SFY) 2021 budget “restatement.” The restatement is a revised proposal for a SFY2021 budget. The document highlights the changes between the original Administration budget proposal released in January and the new proposal that reflects the COVID-19 crisis. In the coming weeks, legislators will work towards the passage of a final budget so they can finally adjourn until 2021, now just around the corner. Since the start of the state fiscal year on July 1, Vermont has been operating on a short-term budget, buying time for state budget writers to make new revenue projections.
Vermont is grappling with a substantial revenue shortfall largely because the pandemic has reduced consumption and income taxes. The August revenue forecast projects $182.4 million less in available General Fund revenue for SFY 2021 than the January projection on which the original Administration budget proposal was built.
Despite the dismal revenue projections, the restatement does not call for cuts to Medicaid rates which is very good news for the provider community, including home health and hospice agencies. We are grateful to the Administration for its support and are hopeful the Legislature will agree with this approach.
The focus of our advocacy efforts over the coming weeks will be to ensure that low-income older and disabled Vermonters who would otherwise need nursing home care have the supports they need to remain at home. It’s hard to name an initiative that is more relevant to the state’s efforts to protect Vermonters from COVID-19 than home-based Choices for Care.