Vermont House expected to give final approval to 2021 budget

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont House is expected to give final approval on Friday to the 2021 budget.

Lawmakers gave preliminary approval to the $7.1 billion budget on Thursday, which includes bridge money to help shore up the financially struggling Vermont State College system. Once approved, the budget goes to the Senate.

“The House worked collaboratively and quickly to ensure the budget is in balance, and ensure that there are no cuts to the services Vermonters count on,” said House Speaker Mitzi Johnson in a written statement. “At the same time, the House fully funded future obligations and kept our reserves healthy to ensure we are in a strong financial position heading into the uncertain months that lie ahead.”

The budget includes “the largest single-year investment in higher education in modern history,” she said.

Higher education institutions will see nearly $210 million this year from federal coronavirus relief funds and general fund dollars, she said. About $98 million will go to the Vermont State System including their annual appropriation and $23 million in bridge funding “they desperately need in order to stabilize this year for a strong future moving forward,” Johnson said.

Adam Greshin, the commissioner of the Department of Finance and Management, has said the state will be using more federal money, more one-time surplus money.

But the funds the state used to close the budget gap won’t be available in 2022.

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