On Vermont Nonprofit Legislative Day 2017, several Vermont leaders gathered to discuss the impact of federal policies and proposed budget cuts on Vermont.
John Killacky (Flynn Center for the Performing Arts) spoke about the impact of cuts on Vermont’s the state’s arts, culture, museum community. He addressed the erosion of services, impact on employment and affect on the local economies. Read John Killacky’s comments on cuts to arts and culture organizations
Martha Maksym, the new Deputy Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Human Services is watching federal actions very closely. “Overall there is not a lot of wiggle room.” For example, when LIHEAP is threatened, that is $19 million that will be difficult to find. We will know more in May. “The numbers are alarming. My optimist side says that we are nimble and innovative. But the loss of this level of funding is a game changer.”
Amila Merdzanovic (Executive Director, Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program) explained the background on the program and the 35 year history
of welcoming refugees to the state. VRRP is deeply interconnected with social support, employment and education programs across the Vermont. The program “very much” depends on federal dollars and are already seeing the impact of presidential proclamations on the services they provide and the people they provide.This year, the number of refugees will be reduced by 50%, which will have an impact on housing rentals and filling jobs–not to mention the diversity of our state.
Kate Ash (Field Representative for Senator Patrick Leahy) explained that Washington, in the short term, there is likely to be another omnibus budget continuance in May. So far, the federal budget uncertainty has already restricted access to grant monies. Because Congress–not the President–writes the budget, there is hope that bi-partisan action could preserve the programs close to Vermonter’s hearts. That said, Kate reminded the room that their voices needed to be heard. Senator Leahy and the entire Congressional delegation needs to hear from Vermonters and nonprofit leaders about what they are accomplishing and what programs they want to preserve.