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Scott Administration Bracing For Revenue Downgrade

A key official in the administration of Gov. Phil Scott says she anticipates economists to downgrade Vermont’s revenue forecast when they unveil new fiscal projections next Thursday.

On Wednesday, Administration Secretary Susanne Young announced that general-fund revenue results for the month of December came in 2 percent below projections. The latest figures, driven by an especially poor showing in corporate tax, leave Vermont $4 million below target for the first half of this fiscal year.

“The shortfall in corporate revenue in the first half of this fiscal year is a concern, and that revenue is not likely to rebound in the second half of this fiscal year,” Young said in a written statement. “I expect this trend will be reflected in the updated consensus revenue forecast that will be presented to the Emergency Board next week.”

The Emergency Board – it consists of Gov. Phil Scott, as well as the chairs of the House and Senate budget and tax committees – will be briefed by economists for the executive and legislative branches next week. Officials in the Scott administration don’t expect the news to be good.

In a budget-adjustment proposal unveiled by Commissioner of Finance and Management Andy Pallito on Tuesday, the administration says it’s anticipating a shortfall of nearly $10 million by close of the fiscal year, which runs from July 1 of 2016 to June 30 of 2017.

Scott, a Republican, made clear in his Inaugural Address last week that he won’t abide the passage of new taxes or fees to cover revenue shortfalls. Democratic lawmakers have questioned whether the state can adhere to that pledge without inflicting an undue toll on programs and services.

Revenues for the transportation fund are also coming in under target; through the first half of the fiscal year, transportation revenues missed projections by about $2.3 million.

As a percentage of total revenues, the general fund is off target by .58 percent, and the transportation fund is down by 1.7 percent.

Despite missing projections, general-fund revenues for this fiscal year are still about 2.5 percent higher than last year’s figures.

The Vermont Statehouse is often called the people’s house. I am your eyes and ears there. I keep a close eye on how legislation could affect your life; I also regularly speak to the people who write that legislation.
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