Updated: Mar 23
Friday, March 19th was cross-over for money committees, so the General Assembly was very busy.
The Senate Education Committee continued to take testimony regarding statewide healthcare benefits for school employees. The committee heard Sue Ceglowski’s testimony and Jay Nichols’ testimony on March 18th. On Friday, March 19th, the Senate Education voted to recommend H.81 as passed by the House. We expect that the bill will be referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee this week.
The Senate bill addressing universal school meals, S.100, is scheduled for consideration by the full Senate this week. Late Friday afternoon, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted favorably on a strike-all amendment, which removed all appropriations from the bill as well as the language promoting local foods for school meals. The Senate Calendar for Tuesday, March 23 (pages 722-726) provides the version of the bill that passed Senate Appropriations. This version of the bill imposes a new and significant unfunded mandate upon Vermont’s school districts and local taxpayers. In the absence of a state appropriation, school district officials may be compelled to reduce programming for students in order to comply with the state mandate to provide universal meals. There is widespread support for good nutrition for children and the role that schools play in providing meals to students.This unfunded mandate would add substantial new increases to local school spending and impact local tax rates (testimony found here