Legislative Update: Gov's Budget Address, Family Leave Insurance + Federal Updates

Governor's Budget Address

On Tuesday, Governor Phil Scott used his state budget address to pledge an increase in early care and education by $9.6 million, including $7.5 million to the Child Care Financial Assistance Program. This focus on affordable child care is encouraging, although the proposed financing sources, which include a reduction to teachers’ health insurance benefits, are coming under fire in the legislature.

The Governor also proposed a $35 million housing bond, in partnership with the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board "to expand housing across the full spectrum – from homeless populations to home ownership for middle-income families."  

Click here to read the full transcript.


 

Child Care

The Governor’s focus on child care is an important step toward achieving the goal of access to quality, affordable child care for all Vermonters. Lawmakers have begun the task of examining the Governor's budget proposal and considering the priorities it outlines. Now is an important time to encourage your legislators to invest in early care and education. Click here to find their contact information.

Let’s Grow Kids is launching its Early Childhood Business Council next Wednesday, February 1, 9 a.m. - Noon at the Capitol Plaza in Montpelier. The event will feature several speakers and a lively discussion with business owners and others. If you would like to learn more or attend the event, you may RSVP here.


Family Leave Insurance

A bill that would create a statewide family and medical leave insurance program is expected to be introduced in the House next week. This issue is a priority for Main Street Alliance of Vermont. If you would like to sign on in support of this issue, please visit this link.


Federal Updates

Health Care

Republicans in Congress and Trump are working to repeal some of the most critical pieces of the Affordable Care Act, including protections for those with preexisting conditions. The Republican plan also drastically alters Medicaid by essentially shifting significant financial responsibility from the federal budget to state budgets, and cuts entirely the program’s additional federal support during times of economic crisis. To compensate for these severe funding cuts, states would likely have no choice but to institute draconian cuts to eligibility, benefits, and provider payments.

On Thursday, Trump met with GOP leaders in Philadelphia to further strategize repeal plans. They were met by a crowd of people protesting the serious negative impacts that a repeal could have on individuals, families and small businesses. Yesterday, Trump halted all advertising - even that that has already been placed and paid for - for health coverage through the ACA in the last week of open enrollment. This is especially troubling because younger, healthier populations are critically important to balancing the insurance pool and need this last-minute reminder the most.

If you are interested in speaking out on this issue, please let us know.

Immigration

This week, Trump issued a series of executive orders that freeze refugee resettlement in the U.S, severely curtail visas to seven Muslim-majority countries, begin the process of building a wall on the Mexico-U.S. border, and threaten to strip federal funding from sanctuary cities. This action has impact in Vermont as the resettlement of refugees in Rutland was just getting started. Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan has put together an Immigration Task Force to help determine options under Trump’s orders. 

Main Street Alliance and our member businesses believe America is strongest when it is most inclusive. We are united in our opposition to Trump’s campaign of fear-mongering and xenophobia. In a time so rife with hate and intolerance, we must continue to stand with our neighbors, and send the message that All Are Welcome in Vermont.


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