All I can say is “phew!”
When we started the second half of the biennium, the chair of my Health Care Committee, Bill Lippert, told the new members that the second year of the biennium is totally unlike the first, especially during the last two weeks. He was right, but his warning did not describe the intensity of those weeks. It felt like a whirlwind. The pressure mounted to get bills through both the House and Senate before a predicted last day of May 13. This meant bills went back and forth sometimes two to three times with amendments to vote on. Sometimes a “committee of conference” was required before both bodies could agree. Finally though, most were approved by the respective bodies and sent to the Governor. He always has the option to veto, which he exercised many times this session.
The most important bill, the budget or “the Big Bill,” was the very last item taken up. Its passage is crucial to funding our state government with the new fiscal year starting July 1. Once this bill passed the House and the Senate, the Legislature adjourned. The Governor has the option to veto this as well, if he objects to the amount and distribution of funds. We understand that the budget, though essentially 213 pages of figures, is a statement of philosophy. “What” and “who” are our priorities? “Where” and “how” is the best investment of our tax dollars to support Vermonters? There are many opinions on these questions and the process of getting to one document is daunting.
Significant work was done this session regarding climate change, expanding affordable and safe housing, financial stability for our public pension system, expanding healthcare access through telemedicine, investing in our health care workforce through grants and loan programs, equalizing access to educational opportunities, and many others. Please go to my website, www.lesliegoldmanvt.com, for a link to a more detailed discussion of these issues.
Now that the work of the legislature is done, I have spent some time thinking about what I have learned and why I want to run again. For me as a legislator, there are two main areas of work. The first is connecting with constituents, and the second is creating good policy. I have connected Windham-3 residents with members of the state government, with advocacy teams, and with other legislators to help them solve problems. Also, I have held regular constituent meetings over Zoom to learn what issues my constituents were concerned with, have tried to answer their questions, and have really enjoyed the dialogue and connections made on the call. I look forward to continuing this work in the “new” reapportioned Windham-3 of Brookline, Rockingham, and Westminster.
As for policy, my committee work has been focussed on creating health care policy. If I’m re-elected, I will take what I have learned into my second biennium with the goal of creating policy that supports improving health care access and quality while containing costs. I will also look forward to supporting colleagues who are working on policy dealing with climate change, education, jobs, racial and social justice, and rural economics. I believe in the Vermont Democratic values of “leaving no Vermonter behind.”
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your representative these last two years. I will continue to represent the “old” Windham-3 (Athens, Brookline, Grafton, Rockingham, North Westminster, and Windham) until Jan. 3, 2023, so please get in touch with me with your thoughts, questions, and concerns! And go to my website, www.LeslieGoldmanvt.com for ongoing information and to sign up for my newsletter.
Rep. Leslie Goldman
Windham-3 District, Vt.