By the time we are reading this, we will have heard the Governor's budget address. We will know what areas of projects and programs he recommends funding. Then it is our job in the House Institutions and Corrections Committee to look at that and see, after hearing from Department heads, where we want to go with it. A huge task lies ahead. We always know that the need and requests are more than the revenue. Prioritizing needs is essential as we face this challenge. I believe we must look at where we want to be as a state, how we want to live and, what we want our future and our children's future to be. This will help to guide us as we make this year's financial decisions that affect our future. In this session we will make a change in the order. The Senate will look at the Capital Bill before the House takes a look. We will cross over with them at about the Town meeting time. The House Human Services Committee is looking at our foster care program. Currently, a youth in the care of the State can only stay in that system until age 18. Often the ages between 18 and 22 are very crucial in making good choices for life's pathways. It is a time most young adults need more guidance and help. They are almost in the adult world but would still benefit by some structure and guidance and support. Bill H.449 is looking at extending the care and supervision of this group of young adults until they reach their 22nd birthday. One of the areas of responsibility that we have in my committee of Institutions and Corrections is the Department of Corrections. Within Corrections is the State High School of Vermont. We are also looking at raising the mandatory age for offenders, who do not have a high school diploma, to attend the High School of Vermont. It is based on similar beliefs and research that shows spending energy and time, on these young citizens who are struggling, is beneficial in the long run. We have extended the age to 22 for one year and will be looking at whether or not this is sustainable and if we can even raise that age to 25 which was our original goal. I believe these two areas are closely related. In both cases, adult involvement and education for these young people are helping to reach the long-term goal of helping these young people become contributing members of society. Much of the testimony we have heard in Committee this week has been from reports and results of summer study committees. We are continuing to look at the Corrections Oversight Report as well as the Study on the Substance Abuse Treatment System. As we continue to hear, substance abuse plays an ever- increasing role in who is in our Correctional system. This will be a focus for us this year. As always, I look forward to hearing from you and am available at 985-8515 or e-mail
. I am at Brueggers's Bagel on Shelburne Road each Tuesday morning from 7:30-8:45. I will also be attending the St. George Select Board meeting on February 14th. I will have a schedule soon as to when I will be at the St. George Town Hall.