Johnson State Student Appointed to Governor's Veterans Advisory Council

Shane BouthilletteJohnson State College senior Shane Bouthillette, who has lobbied the Vermont Legislature over the past couple years to increase state funding for higher education, has been appointed by Gov. Peter Shumlin to a two-year term on the Governor’s Veterans Advisory Council.

 

"I'm thrilled to receive the appointment," Bouthillette said. "I can’t wait to continue serving the state in this capacity."

 

The 19-member Veterans Advisory Council meets four times a year to advise the governor's administration on public policy related to Vermont's veterans. The council examines a full spectrum of veterans’ needs and how state government can best address the interests of veterans.

 

A member of the Vermont National Guard, Bouthillette just ended his term as president of JSC's Student Government Association. A political science and anthropology/sociology major, he plans to spend next fall in a for-credit internship and graduate in December 2013. He also hopes to run for the Legislature in 2014.

 

Bouthillette, a 2009 graduate of Missisquoi Valley Union High School, grew up in Swanton. His parents now live in Berkshire, while he now makes his home in Johnson.

 

His involvement in Vermont politics began during a course at JSC his sophomore year, when he first learned of the growing gap in state education funding.

 

In Vermont, 19 percent of public higher education funding came from the state and 81 percent from tuition in fiscal year 2012. That puts the state close to the bottom nationally in higher education funding. Vermont’s state funding-to-tuition ratio in the 1980s was more like 50-50.

 

Over the past two years, Bouthillette has visited the State House a dozen times to lobby for an increase in the state appropriation for higher education. In November, in conjunction with the Vermont State Colleges Student Association, he met with Shumlin and Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding. In April, he joined student leaders from the five state colleges for a rally and press conference that drew more than 75 people concerned about the issue.

 

Their efforts paid off.

 

"This year, a 3 percent increase made it into the state budget," Bouthillette said. "I've been involved in this lobbying for only two years, so it was nice to see some result from it."

Although Bouthillette hasn't had to take out student loans because the National Guard has paid for his college education, he has become all too aware of what the impact of decreased state spending has had on his friends and the state college system.

 

"I see a lot of my friends taking any jobs they can get, even if those jobs are not in their fields, so they can pay their student loans," he said. "And the high cost of tuition here isn’t drawing students from out of state to the state colleges."