MEDIA RELEASE: Vermont is one step closer to public participation in the state’s budget process, says People’s Budget Campaign

*** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ***
Date: October 16, 2012
Contact: Avery Book, avery@workerscenter.org, 802-343-7565, Vermont Workers' Center
See website: www.workerscenter.org

Vermont is one step closer to public participation in the state’s budget process, says People’s Budget Campaign

Burlington, VT - At Sunday’s People’s Candidates’ Forum in St. Johnsbury, Senator Jane Kitchel announced a participatory process for developing the state’s budget, which has been a key demand of the People’s Budget Campaign. The Campaign, which is part of the Put People First movement spearheaded by the Vermont Workers’ Center, had submitted its own proposal for public participation to the Secretary of Administration, Jeb Spaulding, in September, based on a new requirement in Vermont law.

This new legal provision, passed at the end of the 2012 legislative session after a sustained advocacy effort by the People’s Budget Campaign, requires the state budget to address the people’s needs and advance equity and dignity among Vermont residents. It also set an October 1 deadline for the Administration to design and implement a public participation process for developing the state’s budget and revenue policies.

“We welcome the Senator’s announcement that our elected representatives are about to take a first step toward public participation in the budget process,” said James Haslam, Director of the Vermont Workers’ Center. “While there’s insufficient time for carrying out meaningful participation this year, we can make a start now and show how this could work in practice, and then hold the Administration accountable for designing a timely, meaningful process for the coming years.”

The proposal for public participation submitted by the People’s Budget Campaign lays out a detailed plan for a process for engaging members of all communities in setting budget and revenue goals, determining budget priorities and developing specific proposals for spending and revenue measures, which the governor would have to take into account in his budget proposal.

“Public participation in the budget process can strengthen our democracy and ensure that our money goes toward meeting people’s fundamental needs,” said Haslam.

The Put People First movement has been holding a series of 13 People’s Candidates’ Forums across the states, with the last forum scheduled for October 30th in St. Albans. See a complete list of forums here: http://www.workerscenter.org/news/put-people-first-candidate-forums

The People’s Budget Campaign proposal for public participation can be found here: http://www.workerscenter.org/sites/default/files/vwc_participation_proposal_8-30.pdf

Senator Jane Kitchel is the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee which inserted the new legal requirements for the state’s budget process into the 2012 appropriations bill. This new legal provision can be found here: http://www.workerscenter.org/news/people-s-budget-language-vermont-statute

In response to this legislative achievement, the Vermont Workers’ Center issued a press release (http://www.workerscenter.org/news/breaking-peoples-budget-moves-forward-vermont-legislature) and published an op-ed in the Burlington Free Press (http://www.workerscenter.org/news/op-ed-first-step-toward-peoples-budget).

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