Vermont Legislature Adjourns After Expanding Childcare and Housing; Governor Hints at Vetoes to Come

The Vermont State House in fall

The Democratic-controlled Vermont Legislature has adjourned for its 2023 session by passing an $8.4 billion state budget, the largest in state history, as well as expanding child care and housing. But Republican Gov. Phil Scott hinted at a veto of some of that legislation by saying lawmakers could have more work to do next month.

In a statement issued after the House adjourned on Friday evening, Democratic House Speaker Jill Krowinski said the budget is a reflection of the state’s values and addresses issues important to Vermonters such as housing assistance, health care, education, workforce development and infrastructure.

The lack of access to child care has cost Vermonters millions of dollars in lost wages, she said. The child care expansion would subsidize wages for child care providers and provide financial help for families.

“Since the beginning of this biennium, we have spent hundreds of hours together forging paths to better our state,” she said. To help achieve that, the House has passed dozens of pieces of landmark legislation.

Scott, who has threatened to veto the budget — which would require lawmakers to return to Montpelier next month to override his veto or find a compromise — said he agrees with the goals of the legislature, but he disagrees with the methods.

The $150 million childcare plan would be paid for with help from a .44% payroll tax split between employers and employees. The budget also includes $20 million in new fees at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

“We’ve got to make Vermont more affordable,” he said Friday in the state Senate chamber after the body adjourned.

“To be clear, if we’re taking money out of one pocket to put it into the other, that’s not making anything more affordable,” Scott said.

He said he was elected last fall to give Vermonters a balance. If he were to veto the state budget, lawmakers would be required to return to Montpelier to override that veto or pass a budget that is acceptable to the governor.

“I know this isn’t what the majority of you want to hear, but I believe we’ll have another opportunity to give them that balance next month,” Scott said. “But it’s going to take both of us to make that happen.”

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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