Will budget impasse shut down Vt. government? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Will budget impasse shut down Vt. government?

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A budget impasse in Montpelier has left the Vermont government on the brink of a shutdown. Despite that, the governor says a deal isn't off the table just yet.

A state government shutdown or Washington, D.C.-style short-term fix would be a first in Vermont's modern political history. But Gov. Phil Scott says that's not going to happen.

"This isn't D.C. and I will not shut down state government over this issue," said Scott, R-Vermont.

House and Senate leaders say they've been more than fair, finding ways to save the money the governor wanted on teachers' health care.

"We took them at their word and we put on the table $26 million with a guarantee that it go back to taxpayers," said Sen. Tim Ashe, D/P-Vt. President Pro Tem.

But they say the governor wanted more. However, no one will tell us exactly what ideas are on the table because they're worried if it goes public, it could kill a potential deal.

"I'm still confident we can work to find a compromise," Scott said.

All three sides say they nearly closed a deal Thursday. The governor says he will veto the budget to buy everyone more time to hash it out. But it's unclear which side will ultimately come away with the better deal.

There's a bright spot in the budget proposal. It would reduce the property tax rate for residents. But not by as much as they had hoped.

So did the rookie governor weaken his position by conceding he would back down in order to avoid a government shutdown?

Republican analyst Mike Smith believes the governor still holds the upper hand because he has the public on his side.

"When the governor said, 'Look, we can save money, we can reduce taxes,' as soon as he said that, he was off to the races with the people of Vermont. They understand it. The proposal was fairly simple to them. They understood it and they liked it," Smith said.

Smith says Democrats might have more negotiating strength if they had a counterproposal that had support in both the House and the Senate.

Related Story:

Vt. lawmakers conclude work, governor veto likely

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