Economic stimulus package considered

The capital bill that was passed out of my committee of institutions and corrections last week was voted on favorably by the entire body of the Vermont House of Representatives. Even though it was the last money bill to go to the floor for a vote, we are not finished with our work. There will be discussions between the two bodies (House and Senate) before final decisions will be made. The impact of lower revenues will be taken into account. The other bill my committee is working on is H859, the bill that is dealing with the growth in the corrections population and possible rearranging of facilities and programs. Much of the direction and ideas for this are from our report from the Council of State Government. We are trying to assist offenders with the transition once they are released. We are doing this by investing in transitional housing, vocational training, and community based rehabilitation. What makes this analysis so important is that all three branches of government are at the table looking at this. It is not often that we have administrative, judicial, and legislative representation problem solving together. This will be the last bill we report from my committee before adjournment. The next few weeks will be intense as the legislature and the administration work out what is best for Vermonters. It is essential to look at both the current situation and what we plan for the future. Short term fixes are not always the best solutions for long term goals. As you know, the governor has proposed an economic stimulus package this past weekend. Some of the things I will be looking at as we explore his ideas are the substance of the work. Does it address long-term investment? How will it be paid for, as well as, how will it impact current year budget decisions? The package includes additional bonding. This may be an option that works. It certainly has been an idea our committee has talked about and asked Jeb Spaulding, our state treasurer to look at. If this does happen, I would think it is a good idea to increase our dollars toward transportation for much needed road work. I am hopeful that the good work we have accomplished so far this session will not be taken off course by this proposal and the work it will take to analyze it in the last weeks of the session. Fish, wildlife, and water resources committee will report S304, the ground water bill. One of its main purposes is to consolidate policy regarding groundwater use and management. It declares that the groundwater resources of the state are to be a public trust. The attorney generals office has noted that designating groundwater as a public trust resources will not result in any taking of property. I look forward to following this bill. Please be in touch with any comments, questions, or concerns. My phone is 802-985-8515 or at the state house at 1-800-322-5616. My e-mail is jglenes@aol.com. I will be at Brueggers Bagel each Tuesday morning from 7:30-8:45. Joyce and I expect our last Tuesday to be May 6th. I am always happy to meet you at a time that works for you. I am more flexible during the summer. Joan Lenes is the Representative for Chittenden County, District 5-2 in Vermont. Her column appears regularly in the Times Sentinel.

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