Vermont officials held the first Public Budget Forum Tuesday evening to get citizen input on the formulation of the statewide budget.
In the last Legislative session, Act 162 was passed requiring the state of Vermont to “develop a process for citizen participation in the development of budget goals, as well as general prioritization and evaluation of spending and revenue initiatives.” The Vermont Workers Center had advocated for the law to be passed. Executive Director James Haslam says they sought more transparency and greater needs assessment in the budget process.
The Public Assets Institute in Montpelier helped the Workers Center advocate for the new law. President Paul Cillo says historically production of the budget has been a closed door process with few opportunities for citizen input.
The new law mandated that the process begin this year. Vermont Commissioner of Finance and Management Jim Reardon says suggestions may, or may not, be incorporated into the budget.
The state set two Public Budget Forums to comply with the new law. The first was held Tuesday statewide in 8 cities via Vermont Interactive Technologies. Participants were teleconferenced with officials in Montpelier.
Following a presentation on the budget by Commissioner of Finance Jim Reardon, numerous questions and comments were made on what was in the budget and how it was crafted, and even critiques on how this initial Public Budget Forum was presented.
The second Public Budget Forum is scheduled for Monday November 19th.