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January 24: Governor Shumlin presented his Budget Address

In his Budget Address, on January 24,  Governor Shumlin stressed a series of important issues that stand before the state, while presenting a balanced budget. The issues he stressed were education, including support for our youngest children; the welfare benefits program; health care costs; transportation funding; and investments in clean energy and efficiency.

This is what Governor Shumlin had to say about energy and efficiency:

Let me now turn to the fifth and last area where our investment will increase our prosperity and our quality of life. Our leadership in clean energy in Vermont is remarkable:

We have more green jobs per capita than any state in the country.

Since I became governor two years ago, we have seen the amount of solar energy on our grid double. We are successfully harnessing the sun, the wind, our water, fields, forests, and manure to generate clean, green power. We continue to lead the nation in electric energy efficiency.

We are on the right path, but it’s not enough. We have done a great job of creating jobs and saving money by helping Vermonters cut down on electric usage. We have done a lousy job of keeping our homes and buildings comfortable and affordable in our cold winters on days like today.

We heat about sixty percent of our homes with traditional heating oil – a huge and growing expense for Vermonters, and a huge cost to our environment. Meanwhile, we have for several winters now kept needy Vermonters from freezing in their homes by scrambling to pay for heating oil as the federal government callously slashes its contribution to the LIHEAP program.

We must do better. That is why my budget proposes to join our neighbors in Connecticut and Massachusetts by assessing a ten-percent surcharge on the retail value of break open tickets and applying the $17 million raised to comprehensive energy program funding. I propose to allocate the $17 million for three purposes:

First, to keep low income Vermonters warm in the winter through the State’s first-ever base budget contribution to LIHEAP, at the level of $6 million. Let’s recognize the sad fact that Washington is unlikely to fund this critical program adequately and let’s do something about it, so that all Vermonters stay warm in the winter.

Second, we must create jobs, save energy, and stop wasting dollars in drafty homes by investing another $6 million per year in thermal efficiency. We have a simple choice. As oil prices continue to rise, we can send our hard-earned Vermont dollars to oil producing countries that mostly don’t like us, or we can buy less oil and help fight climate change by keeping our heat inside our homes and buildings.

Third, I propose that we provide $5 million as a stable source of support forth Clean Energy Development Fund to continue our leadership in building renewable energy and efficiency projects.

Governor Shumlin’s Budget Address can be seen in whole at Scribd.

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