Posted about 2 months ago by Meredith Roberts


As the year begins, we plan our strategy for the year and consider resolutions.

So does our governor.  Governor Scott presented his budget proposal January 24th sharing his fears about the declining workforce, and offering incentives to move to Vermont. He strongly advocated education and his desire to have Vermont known for it’s educational excellence, wanting us to imagine how Vermont could distinguish itself by being the best in education nationally. VSAC funding was increased by 1M. UVM is to receive $700,000, and the VSC system $3.2 M.

Higher education funding helps support nurse faculty and reduces tuition rates, which helps to support more nurse graduates, and increases the nurse workforce.

To address children born of addicted mothers he allotted 2 million for family services. He noted that the number of children using e-cigarettes had nearly doubled; hence 1.5 M was designated to address it, and safety improvements in schools. A tax was proposed on e-cigarettes and vaping products. Another $1.3 million in funding is to go for lead testing in schools.

He directed $7 M more to the early Child Care Financial Assistance program, providing financial assistance to early educators and redesigning to improve efficiency. He proposes one million of General Funds, and 2.5M of the total funds for launching a voluntary bi-state paid family and medical leave insurance program. At a recent legislative breakfast one-on-one by VT-Digger, Senate President pro-tem Tim Ashe mentioned reservations about a voluntary paid leave plan by Vermont solo. However, Vermont and New Hampshire creating a paid leave plan together, will leverage the economies or both states allowing for a more competitive plan than either can do alone.

While he cannot support a carbon tax, he will provide incentives ($1.5M in rebates) to make electric vehicles. Exemptions to Act 250 would be allowed for projects with environmental protection for “natural areas”. Eight million this year  will go to the state's federally-mandated clean water projects, using the estate tax as a revenue source, rather than raising taxes. The Vermont Housing Incentive Program will receive 1 M, and the land gains tax is to be eliminated.

An increase in occupational licensing fees, (Office of Professional Regulation) was mentioned, but without specific details about nurse licensing costs. For cybersecurity a one-time investment of 3.3 million to strengthen the state firewall. The strong broadband initiative will enhance telemedicine and student services. Governor Scott has also allied with Microsoft to improve access to digital skills programing and computer science education and to promote rural broadband access. For veterans, by the end of the year military retirement benefits will no longer be taxed.

Please check the legislation page for recent updates in introduced legislation. I have spent time this last week visiting the Health Care committee as they are briefed about healthcare reform and how our system works, as well as top issues such as our lack of beds for mental health patients, the opioid crisis, and how we are continuing to develop the ACO Model which can be seen in brief on the Green Mountain Board site

I am creating collaborative partnerships. We are piloting being part of the Vermont Businesses of Social Responsibility, so we can attend their events at lower cost: . We can also publicize events on their site and seek out sponsors.

On January 30 at 1PM there is a public Board meeting of the Green Mountain Board where the ACO design will be discussed with a Health Care Workforce Presentation in the Pavilion Auditorium at 109 State St, Montpelier, 

For those interested in climate change issues I am collaborating with an expert on this topic and you can join us for coffee February 7 at the State House.

I am proud of nurses like Representative Mari Cordes, who serves on the Health Care committee. Representative Donahue is the vice-chair of Health Care committee and is a strong advocate for many nursing issues, as is the Chair Representative Lippert. I am amazed that we still need to legislate to prohibit female genital mutilation, prohibit the involuntary sterilization of individuals with an intellectual disability,  fight for immunity from liability for licensed professionals providing essential services during emergencies, ensure that providers using electroconvulsive therapy be qualified, and defend people from violence. Yet we do, and I cannot do it alone. These are just a few of the issues for this legislative session.

Thank-you for supporting ANA-Vermont. You are needed