It has been a time of thoughtful consideration, conversation, and debate at the State House. Both the Budget Adjustment Act and S-13, the bill commonly referred to as the sex offender bill, were passed. I supported the passage of both of them.
One of the items discussed in the Budget Adjustment Act is the pay we receive as legislators and if we would take a 5 percent pay decrease.
If we all agreed to this from the date the Act is passed, it would save the state approximately $34,000. If we are diligent and work the long hours that it takes to tend to the state's business, we are hoping to not use one week of the money put aside for the legislative session. With all that is included with one less week, the savings are projected to be 240 thousand dollars. I think it is 20more worthwhile to do the latter.
As a personal decision, I will donate my 5 percent ($120 monthly) to a Shelburne or Chittenden County non-profit agency/organization of my choice. I feel that is the best way for me to address this.
The sex offender bill focuses on prevention, strengthening of our sentencing practices and collaboration between agents of the state, especially within the department of corrections and the department of children and families. I am working to ensure that resources go with the intent of this legislation. The bulk of the funds are going to the department of children and families and a sexual abuse center for training and coordination. We want to have no overlap of services and training.
The Capital Bill will not leave my committee of Institutions and Corrections before the town meeting crossover date as originally thought. We a re awaiting the specifics of the federal stimulus package and how that will assist us in meeting the needs of Vermonters. I will do whatever I can to see that federal dollars are invested in projects that will create productive public assets as well as the jobs to get this work done. The combination of federal and state spending can support Vermonters while stimulating economic activity. Many of these anticipated projects will strengthen our infrastructure as we face the challenges of the future.
Joan Lenes is the Representative for Chittenden County, District 5-2 in Vermont. Her column appears regularly in the The Eagle.