As the Legislature undertook its work this year, it faced the daunting challenge of filling a $154 million budget gap, and yet legislative leaders showed a curious lack of urgency or concern.
One of the reasons was that many of the tough decisions that awaited both the Legislature and the Douglas administration had been obscured by a bewildering fog. The fog was called Challenges for Change.
Challenges for Change was the name given to a plan for reorganizing state government to achieve new efficiencies through new technology, reorganization, and consolidation. The plan, developed by consultants, was adopted by the Legislature in February, and it promised to eliminate $38 million from the budget.
...Some of the startling changes proposed by the Douglas administration come in the area of economic development, where some of the state's innovative and relatively low-cost programs would get the ax. The Council on Rural Development, for example, would lose its $47,000 state appropriation, though the office brings more than that to the state in foundation and federal money. It has proven to be an important catalyst for change within communities around Vermont, including Rutland where the Creative Economy initiatives represent an important spin-off of the council's work.