Responsible Budgeting

As the chairman of the Senate Institutions Committee for six years, I led the effort to more responsibly budget the state’s capital construction each year. When I came to that role, there was very little process, or transparency – and far too much ”inside baseball.” Before I was chairman, taxpayer funds were distributed with little accountability and process. This goes against every principle of public service that I believe in. So I set in motion new practices for this budget that, for the most part, still guide the process today.

That work includes:

  • Establishing a threshold of expenditures that is affordable, steadily reducing long-term debt and staying in line with debt affordability recommendations that protect our state’s bond rating;
  • Ensuring that capital expenditures are allocated to long-term infrastructure, both structural and telecommunications, not short-term IT projects or personnel.
  • Creating a fair and principled process for distributing grants that requires application and evaluation before granting taxpayers’ money.

I’ve applied the principles of responsible budgeting to my own office budget as Lt. Governor. My first year in the Lt. Governor’s office, I was urged by budget writers to spend the savings we’d found in our budget. I chose instead to return the money, and have done so every year since.

In my six years as Lt. Governor, I have run my office efficiently and have returned more than $53,000 in savings to the General Fund. The $185,000 annual office budget supports my annual salary, one full-time staffer, as well as office expenses (such as telephone service, IT service and office rent). It also covers one National Lt. Governors Association meeting every year, on which I serve on the Executive and Finance Committees.

As Governor, I will apply this type of principled, practical way of operating to our entire budget, listen to the people of this state, learn the details and then lead a budget process that helps achieve our goal of making Vermont more affordable and growing our economy.