Legislature Uncertain on Budget Surplus (ARPA): Racism a Public Health Emergency

The Speaker and the Pro Tempe are on a statewide tour called “Investing in Vermont’s Future Community Conversations”.  They have indicated that “the Vermont Legislature is positioned to make historic investments in Vermont’s pandemic recovery…”. This is as a result of an anticipated unprecedented budget surplus as a result of CARES and ARPA relief money.  

The Vermont Racial Justice Alliance provided a Moral Budget to all state legislators February 18, 2021 (no response).  This budget was directly attached to various components of our A.C.T. legislative agenda.  Highlighted in this agenda is an act relating to promoting racial and social equity in economic opportunity and cultural empowerment (H.406).  The purpose of this act is “to invest in systems of economic advancement and cultural empowerment as a way to move towards greater racial and social equity in wealth distribution, health, resilience, and economic and cultural prosperity”.

The delta variant of COVID-19 continues to disproportionately exacerbate determinant outcomes for Black and Brown Vermonters (with little state intervention).   Overt discriminatory practices and acts of hate against Black and Brown bodies, including instances of failure to provide equal protection under the law are on the rise. The outcomes produced by already inefficient oversight of policing and Department of Children and Families and an underfunded Human Rights Commission is making an already bad situation exponentially worse. This is an emergency!

In fact, the legislature passed our proposed joint resolution relating to racism as a public health emergency in May!  It states “That this legislative body commits to the sustained and deep work of eradicating systemic racism throughout the State, actively fighting racist practices, and participating in the creation of more just and equitable systems,…”

Vermont has an unprecedented state budget surplus! We’re calling on them to use some of this money to address this emergency.   The legislature should support and fund the moral budget.  Consistent with their commitment, the legislature must target economic support into underserved communities to enable Black and Brown stakeholders to implement programming that ensures the health, safety and prosperity of folks in their communities.  

See information on how to attend the community conversations below.  All sessions will be held virtually.

  • Final conversation open to anyone across the state, Tuesday, November 16th. Register here. 

If you can’t participate, complete the online questionnaire here.  Contact cwesley@leg.state.vt.us and ckennedy@leg.state.vt.us if you want to set up a conversation.

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