$7.1 billion budget heads to state Senate

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MONTPELIER — The Vermont House of Representatives on Friday made amendments to the fiscal 2021 budget before passing it on a third reading and sending it to the State Senate.

Additions to the $7.1 billion spending plan include funding for the Global Warming Solutions Act and clarifying language on a program establishing mental health services in conjunction with the Vermont Department of Public Safety.

When the Global Warming Solutions Act passed the House on Wednesday, it had been stripped of nearly $1 million in funding by the state Senate. The amendment, offered by Rep Timothy Briglin, D-Thetford, restored $566,000 for fiscal 2021 to hire three staff members and fund per-diem expenses. It passed 100-42 on a roll call vote.

The mental health services amendment, offered by Rep. Anne Donahue, R-Northfield, offered no additional funds. But it clarified the Legislature's intent to expand services, address disparities in access to services, and assure that they needs of psychiatric survivors and marginalized communities are being heard.

"Our services are still wholly inadequate and the root cause of many emergencies is that lack of robust services. That's something we must continue to work on," Donahue said.

Her amendment passed by a vote of 128-5.

An additional amendment, offered by Rep. Mark Higey, D-Lowell, removed $400,00 from the budget that had been set aside to build a registry of apartments in the state. The registry was being sought as an emergency housing resource in case of disasters such as Tropical Storm Irene, but members voiced concern about the lack of policy in place ahead of the appropriation.



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