Gov. Scott Urges Vt. to Set National Standard for Discourse

Vermont's governor took the oath of office Thursday, starting his second two-year term.

In his inaugural address, Republican Gov. Phil Scott urged state lawmakers to rise above the kind of partisan bickering that has made Washington such a tough place to get things done — and Democrats echoed the governor's sentiment.

"We have so much to offer, and so much to be hopeful for," Gov. Scott said in his inaugural address.

The Republican also outlined big challenges facing his small state — among them, what he described as a demographic crisis.

Scott called for the state to do more to attract young people to move to Vermont and settle, to expand the workforce and tax base.

To do that and to achieve his other goals, like making health insurance more affordable, reducing inequities between cities and rural pockets, and protecting seniors and folks battling mental illness and addiction, Scott said intense partisanship needs to be put to rest, and replaced with civil debates on the issues.

"Social media still overflows with negativity and hate, and politics as a whole still seems to divide us more than it brings us together," Gov. Scott said in his speech. "I truly believe that in Vermont, we can set a standard others across the nation can aspire to, and elected officials can look to as a better way—the right way — to go about the work of the people."

Democrats, who hold a supermajority in the state's House of Representatives, also pledged a constructive tone this session.

Their priorities include paid family leave, gradually increasing the minimum wage, and clean water funding, said House Majority Leader Rep. Jill Krowinski, D-Burlington.

"Especially after what's happening in Washington, it's important for us to be showing Vermonters and showing the country how we can work together, across party lines, to get things done," Krowinski told necn.

"I 100 percent believe that we will definitely behave better than the national politics," added Rep. Matt Hill, D-Wolcott.

The start of the governor's address Thursday was very briefly delayed because of shouts from a protester.

A man threw fake money from the upper level of the House of Representatives chamber, yelling, "Without clean water and clean air, jobs and the economy don't mean squat."

Capitol police escorted the man from the State House.

Gov. Scott will provide more specifics on his proposals in his budget address, which he will give in two weeks.

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