The Peak of Summer: election season, state budgets, and a pandemic.

Last week I was proud to receive the Democratic and Progressive nominations for State Representative. This week I found out that I have a Republican challenger in my bid for State Representative. Next week the legislature reconvenes to finish out the biennium. Biden/Harris seems to be our hope for the future. There is still a pandemic: we’re struggling with what safe school looks like for teachers and for families, so many of us are out of work, and even the smallest decisions are fraught with consequence. All to say-- there is much going on for each of us these days.

No matter which direction our elections go in November they will transform the world-- not just our small place in it. This is of course true for the presidency but also true for down ballot races. The next two years will require courage, vision, and an ability to think systemically as we rebuild our economy, our administration, and find new ways to support each other and our families. This work isn’t done by legislators in isolation-- it is best done with a strong mandate from our voters and strong relationships with our communities to ensure that each policy matters.

Campaigning in a pandemic will be different, it’s not safe to knock on each of your doors and talk. I’m looking for new ways to connect with folks. I’m hoping that being able to attend campaign events virtually from home will make it easier for different people to get connected to the political process. I’ll send more mail-- to both remind people about the election in the midst of the chaos of our lives, and to share my thoughts on our political future. I loved all the conversations on doorsteps and backyards, but I’m looking forward to finding new ways to bring all our voices to the Statehouse.

Would you consider volunteering for my reelection campaign and to support other election year work in our community? You can sign up on the volunteer tab.

If you can’t volunteer this year, would you consider donating to my reelection campaign? I know that times are hard, needs are many, and choices are heightened--but elections matter more than ever. You can use Act Blue for a secure link on this site or send a check to Committee to Elect Emilie Kornheiser, 528 Goodenough Rd, Brattleboro Vt 05301.

This final month of the session will run from August 25th through September 25th. While we usually finish up in May, the instability in our revenue projections and lack of clarity regarding federal action led us to wait until September to finish up the FY21 budget. While some revenue shortfalls remain at this point, the situation is significantly less dire than it seemed in April. It will be a complex puzzle to see where spending naturally decreased as our lives shifted, and where significant investments are required to sustain our communities. We’ll also finish off a limited number of bills that are in committees of conference: cannabis, Global Warming Solutions Act, and criminal justice reform. And finally, we’ll check on the billion dollars of COVID relief legislation we passed and make changes to ensure the money is going both where it’s needed and where it will be spent by our federal deadline of December 30th.

If you have accessed (or struggled to access) any of the COVID relief programs I would love to hear about it. I’ve shared many of the resources for back rent, small business support, and health guidance in previous newsletters-- you can still find that information on my website, or just reach out-- I’m happy to connect you with what you need. The issues that called me to public service are magnified by this pandemic— the cracks in our system have widened and more of us can see them.

Folks on the front lines of the economy need compensation and dignity (pay and protection.) Most of us are working paycheck to paycheck. We need strong social infrastructure to build stable communities Housing, food security, and connectivity are essential to public health. We must invest in government and communities— we all need systems of support. Not all of us experience the challenges of our times equitably— class, race, and gender change our experiences of criminal justice, school, and the economy— we must restructure these systems if we want a Vermont that truly works for all of us.

Thank you for your support over the last two years. I couldn’t do this work without you-- your time, money, and encouragement. I’ll use this shorter election season as an opportunity to connect with constituents, elevate issues, encourage voter turnout, and build power for next biennium.

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