This Monday from 4:00-6:30pm is the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations will hold a joint public hearing on Vermont Interactive Technologies (V.I.T.) to give Vermonters throughout the state an opportunity to express their views about the state budget for fiscal year 2015. All 13 V.I.T. sites will be available for the hearing: Bennington, Brattleboro, Johnson, Lyndonville, Middlebury, Montpelier, Newport, Randolph Center, Rutland, Springfield, St. Albans, White River Junction and Williston. V.I.T.’s website has an up-to-date location listing, including driving directions, addresses and telephone numbers.
This will be a great opportunity to not only makes your voices heard about our state's budget, but also push for two bills that will be taken up in the Appropriations Committee.
1) Earned Sick Days H.208 (most up to date online at Senate bill S.255) - This bill will likely be voted out in the next week of the House General, Housing & Military Affairs Committee and head to House Appropriations Committee. Winning paid sick days is a huge priority for us in our struggle for work with dignity (see more here). There has been a tremendous amount of business opposition in the last couple of weeks to try to stop the bill even with overwhelming support. At 10am on Thursday January 30 a public hearing was held (hardly a great time for workers to attend) and supporters of the bill outnumbered opponents more than 3 to 1. That support even included a number of business owners and their was a well attended business press conference calling for a paid sick days law last Thursday at the Statehouse (check out a great story in Times Argus/Rutland Herald here). It would be great for the Appropriations Committee to hear from you, about why you think paid sick days makes sense and even why it is tied to the state budget in so many ways.
For example, last year we heard many stories of women who were on Reach Up because they had been fired from their job for missing a day because their child was sick. We also know that many the thousands of Vermont workers who do not have paid sick days affect the health of public employees and when other employers don't pay paid sick days the cost burden is often ultimately shifted to taxpayers. This includes the many temp workers who work side by side with state employees and the fact that currently in many of the public employee holseholds the other parent doesn't have paid sick days leaving the public employee to be the one taking care of children and loved ones everytime the need arises. Finally, for a state moving towards publicly financed universal healthcare it does not make sense to have sick people be forced to work when they should be home resting and not spreading illnesses (in case you missed it, read a great op-ed making public health case by Mari Cordes, RN and President of VT Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals here).
2) H.763, An act relating to assessing needs in preparing the State budget (see it here). This is a brand new bill that was just introduced based on the work of the People's Budget Campaign. This committee has probably not gotten much of a chance to look at it yet, but it would be great if you could thank them for their consideration of our bill and ask them to adopt needs assessments in our budget process to end the disconnect between the state budget and our communities' needs.
Here is a link that connects to more information about the People's Budget Campaign in regards to these VIT Hearings.
Hope to see many of you tomorrow!