As the Governor concluded his seventh budget address, he admitted that “there is no joy” in making cuts of such magnitude at such a challenging time in our state’ history. Clearly, many of those programs targeted for his axe have been priorities of his administration over the previous three terms. And he knows full well the consequences of such proposals, if acted upon by the legislature. Vermonters are justified in worrying.
However, we have inflicted some of this pain upon ourselves. Our ever- expanding view of the state as beneficent provider has now met head-on with the incontrovertible evidence of Vermont’s fiscal instability and structural deficiencies associated with mandated expenditures and unfunded liabilities. So, now the budget process begins and we must keep our eyes on the ultimate goal to get through this storm intact and positioned for the future.
You know, somewhere between the cranky beginning of the ninth month of pregnancy and the exhausted smile when it’s over, the mother-to-be moves beyond denial and realizes with exquisite clarity that there’s only one, messy, and very painful way out. Members of the administration and legislature involved with the budget process have reached that point of clarity as well, and we need to support their efforts to find common ground around uncomfortable decisions.
When there’s no money – no alternative – priorities become clear. Businesses and families deal within that framework every day. State government is now in that same space, and there is no joy at all. For a copy of the Governor’s budget address click on the Roundtable’s homepage (www.vtroundtable.org) .