Shumlin Says: “Forget the Feds, Full Speed Ahead!”

That seems to be the message from the Shumlin Administration as reported by Andrew Stein in a Vermont Digger article yesterday:

The Shumlin administration painted an optimistic portrait of the state’s financial future the day after the Federal Emergency Management Agency dealt the state a fiscal blow.

FEMA determined on Tuesday that the Vermont State Hospital and other government facilities were not destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene and are therefore not eligible for the 90 percent public assistance match the state had hoped for. Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding said afterwards that the state would not receive as much overall funding for the state hospital.

Te question is where is the money going to come from:

A spreadsheet passed out to legislators during the briefing showed a $120 million gap between state revenues, or the money it knows it has, and estimated construction costs.

The gap reflected a reduction of more than $700,000 from a July estimate, due primarily to a decrease in costs for a seven-bed residential facility in Middlesex. Spaulding said the state would proceed with construction of that psychiatric facility despite a citizen appeal of the zoning permit.

As of Oct. 16, the sheet showed that estimated construction costs would amount to roughly $182 million for a revamped state office complex, a new state hospital, new labs, renovations at the National Life building and other psychiatric facilities. The combined construction costs of all five psychiatric facilities across the state is estimated at about $43 million, and the new Berlin hospital is projected to cost $28.5 million to build.

All by itself this concern would not seem to be overly worrisome.  The problem s that this is not the only case of this Administration singing the tune “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” when it comes to telling Vermonters where the money is coming from to fund some expense.  The 800 lb gorilla in this category is the failure to come clean with Vermonters on how Green Mountain Care will be funded.  If we cannot even count on the Feds for the expected money for such a relatively small expense, how can we expect help in covering the roughly $3 billion dollars that it will cost to enact a single payer plan?  After all, part of the argument for going that route was that there would be federal assistance in funding the plan.  While we are on the subject of where is the money coming from, perhaps we should discuss the total unfunded liability for Vermont’s teachers and state workers that, as of June 30 2011 was about $3 billion.


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