In his final budget address to lawmakers, Gov. Jim Douglas compared the devastating flood of 1927 that wiped out many of Vermont's roads, bridges and farmlands to today's economic crisis.
"The Great Flood of 1927 was a defining moment in our state's history not just for the magnitude of destruction, but for the effort to rebuild that followed," said Douglas. "Today, the crisis we confront is economic. Just as Vermonters did more than 80 years ago, we must rebuild better than before. This year we will be judged not just by our ability to pass a balanced budget, but by whether that budget prepares our state and its people for a stronger tomorrow."
To see a Tweet-by-Tweet account of his speech, check out my Twitter feed.
And what a budget it will be: The state is facing a $150 million shortfall. To meet that gap, the governor is cutting programs throughout state government, though largely in the Agency of Human Services.
AHS was largely spared from drastic cuts last fiscal year because the legislature used one-time federal stimulus money to plug budget holes. Douglas said that won't work this year, as fewer federal dollars are available.
"By starting now the difficult process of realigning human services spending within currently available resources, we will spare programs from devastating cuts when the federal spigot is eventually turned off," said Douglas.