Welch launches budget roundtables

BURLINGTON - With America's budget crisis in the news and Congress considering the federal budget for fiscal year 2012, Rep. Peter Welch (D. Vermont) said he is bringing budget discussions to Vermont with a series of public forums and budget-related tours.

On April 19, at Physician's Computer Company in Winooski, Welch held a roundtable discussion with business, education and community leaders to talk about workforce development and job training programs that will be affected by pending budget proposals.

At last week's roundtable, Welch focused on the Workforce and Education Training Fund (WETF) and the Pell Grant program. Several area business leaders, including representatives from the education community, were part of the discussion.

"The WETF, which provides grants to improve the skills of Vermont workers, is facing an estimated 10 percent FY 2011 funding reduction. The Pell Grant program, which provides need-based grants to low-income students to promote post-secondary education, could face a Fiscal Year 2012 cut of $1,765 to the maximum per student award, eliminating nearly 2,220 Vermont students from the program," according to Welch.

In addition to the Winooski roundtable, Welch announced that it is one of several in the coming weeks. He will hold roundtables, at yet-to-be announced locations, focusing on Medicare, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and women's health programs.

The Budget Priorities Workforce Development Roundtable included Welch, John Canning, president of Physician's Community Company and the Vermont Software Developers' Alliance, John Evans, UVM Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies and Technology Council, Lisa Ventriss of the Vermont Business Roundtable, Jacquie Dagesse of EIV Technical, Dan Smith of Vermont State Colleges, Lyle Jebson of the Rutland Tech Center, Joe Teegarden of the Green Mountain Tech Center and president of Vermont Association of Technical Directors, John O'Kane, IBM and chairman of the Vermont Workforce Development Council, Tracy Burns of Revision Military, Adam Knudsen of Dynapower Corporation, Melissa Hersh of Champlain College, Anita Prouty of Liquid Measurements, Tom Hughes of Vermont Country Products, and Tiffany Bluemle of Vermont Works for Women.

No definitive conclusions about the budget discussion were announced by Welch's office following the roundtable.

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