MONTPELIER, Vermont – The Put People First Campaign presented a proposal today to Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding and Finance Commissioner Jim Reardon, for moving toward a state budget based on the needs of all people in Vermont. The Campaign called for the State Administration to take immediate steps to fully comply with the new law that requires public participation in the development of Vermont’s budget.
“We know we have a long way to go until the people of Vermont have a real say in the budget process,” said Peg Franzen, Vermont Workers’ Center president. “We appreciate that the Secretary and the Commissioner are engaging in this dialogue. Since so many of us are struggling to meet our needs, this is really important. Today we encouraged the Administration to take concrete actions toward creating a real process of public participation in state budgeting. With our many thousand members we will continue building political will for re-envisioning the budget process and strengthening democracy in Vermont.”
The Put People First Campaign’s proposal included four immediate demands for a budget based on the needs of all people in Vermont. It called upon the Administration to:
- prepare an accessible and easy-to-understand version of the budget and related documents to increase transparency and enable inclusive participation;
- create a formal, continuous process of public participation in the development of the state’s budget by setting up an independent committee to design the participation process;
- create full accountability to the public participation process by requiring the governor’s budget proposal to be clearly tied to goals and initiatives identified in the public participation process; and
- carry out a needs assessment that measures unmet needs and rights in all Vermont communities.
These proposed actions are intended to move the state toward strengthening democracy and developing a People’s Budget that addresses people’s needs and advances dignity and equity, as required by state law.
“The focus must be on people rather than money. Put People First proposes a new approach to budget and revenue policy, based on human rights principles,” said James Haslam, director of the Vermont Workers’ Center. “Rather than adjusting the budget to match a revenue estimate, the budget must start with an assessment of people’s fundamental needs and then seek to fund the services required to meet those needs.”
Read the full proposal, titled Re-Envisioning State Budget & Revenue Policy: Addressing people’s needs and rights through strengthening democracy, here.
The Administration’s meeting with the Put People First Campaign came on the heels of last month’s Vermont Interactive Technologies budget hearings, which for the first time allowed the people of Vermont to take part in the budget process before the legislative session. The budget hearings and this week’s meeting are the direct result of the Put People First Campaign’s achievement in getting the purpose of the state budget written into law for the first time.
The People’s Budget is part of the Put People First initiative, which includes a number of organizations working to advance human rights in Vermont and is coordinated by the Vermont Workers’ Center.
Download the proposal here.
Sandy Gaffney from the Put People First Campaign hands the proposal to Jeb Spaulding, Secretary of Administration, as the Commissioner of Finance, to the left of Spaulding, and Put People First members look on.