Legislature returns Wednesday for veto session - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Legislature returns Wednesday for veto session

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Vermont lawmakers are due back in Montpelier this week for what's scheduled to be a two-day session to deal with vetoes issued by Republican Gov. Phil Scott.

The clock is ticking for Vermont Lawmakers and Governor Phil Scott, but there's still no agreement in Montpelier surrounding how to cut teachers' health care costs without cutting benefits.

Well-placed sources differ on the likelihood of a deal. Pessimism is growing while a few hold out hope. Last Thursday the Governor suggested a deal is imminent.

We've learned that a statewide health care negotiation for all teachers -- as sought by the Governor -- is highly unlikely to be in any agreement. Scott says that doesn't have to be a sticking point if there's a different way to save cash.

"That we are able to have a mechanism where we can recoup the up to $26 million dollars a year, possibly more, that is there for us to get some relief," Scott said. Previously though, the Governor concluded that other ideas to guarantee savings don't add up.
We spoke with Senate President Tim Ashe before negotiations resumed last week. He said the Governor should re-run the numbers on the legislature's proposals. "The administration will have to view this as an actual negotiation where compromise occurs," Ashe said.

Sources say the sides are closer, but progress is around the edges, not the sticky centers of disagreements. A deal that pegs school boards to a health plan standard or dollar amount in savings could be the basis of an agreement, especially if it leaves the door open to a future statewide health care negotiation.

If there's no budget or short-term spending plan by July 1st, state Government would shut down. But Gov. Scott says he will backdown before it comes to that.

"I am actually heartened that the Governor would say that he wouldn't let there be a government shutdown, which to me would be an embarrassment to the state of Vermont," Ashe said.

Deal or no deal, lawmakers return to the statehouse Wednesday. One source who expects an agreement says it's a struggle to see how it gets done, but also noted "no one wants to come back in the same place."

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