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Vermont Has Lost A Greater Share Of Revenue Than Most States Due To COVID-19

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This story is part of an NPR nationwide analysis of states' revenue and budgets during the pandemic.

In Vermont, elected officials say COVID-19 has forced some difficult questions about the role of state government in Vermonters' lives. But they aren't ready to answer them just yet.

Like other states, Vermont passed a three-month "skinny budget" that will keep the wheels of government churning through September.

In the meantime, the Democratic-controlled legislature and Republican Gov. Phil Scott will try to figure out how to accommodate what analysts say will likely be a 14% year-over-year drop in general fund revenues.

Scott favors an 8% reduction in overall spending, spread out evenly across the whole of state government. Lawmakers, however, say the coronavirus pandemic will only intensify demand for government services. And they're holding out hope that Congress will let states use federal coronavirus relief funds to backfill lost revenues.

While elected officials have deferred the difficult task of balancing the fiscal year 2021 state budget, they have settled on a spending plan for public schools.

Despite a substantial drop in the revenues that support education spending, school budgets approved prior to the pandemic will remain in place. And legislation approved in June relies on a projected $100 million in deficit spending to offset the revenue declines.

Peter Hirschfeld covers state government and the legislature for Vermont Public Radio.

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