Vt. lawmakers aim for Thursday adjournment

Published: May. 11, 2022 at 5:55 PM EDT|Updated: May. 11, 2022 at 7:13 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - It’s a sprint to the finish line for Vermont lawmakers in Montpelier as they put the final touches on an $8 billion state budget before attempting to adjourn Thursday.

Lawmakers at the Statehouse are beginning to sing a different tune now that the legislative session is inching to the finish line and a vote on the state budget is in sight. The historic $8 billion state spending plan funnels millions into housing, state colleges, the health care workforce, broadband, clean water, and infrastructure.

The Senate is still working on tax bills and crafting a budget that Republican Governor Phil Scott is willing to support. But lawmakers came to an agreement on an $84 million workforce and economic development plan they say addresses the governor’s concerns.

“The House didn’t get everything they wanted but we got a majority. The Senate got a lot of things they wanted but didn’t get everything either,” said Rep. Michael Marcotte, R-Orleans.

Meanwhile, it’s back to the drawing board for Democrats after they failed to override by just one vote the governor’s veto on a major climate bill called the “Clean Heat Standard.”

“That fell apart yesterday on the floor and I’m very disappointed, but we are not done,” said House Speaker Jill Krowinski, D-Burlington. She says lawmakers will have to regroup over the summer and try to come up with a different plan to reduce emissions to meet the state’s climate goals. “It’s a time to celebrate the victories we have and restart regrouping and getting to work on what our next steps are since we do not have the Clean Heat Standard.”

Another late session showdown is also in the works -- Act 250 reform. Governor Scott this week threatened to veto the sweeping land-use bill because he says it would stifle opportunities for home construction. “We need to clear the way for more housing. We don’t need to put up another roadblock,” he said Tuesday.

But architects of the plan say the governor is wrong and that the bill provides incentives for housing, supports farming, and protects rural Vermont. “Now is the time to make progress. We can all come back to the table and do more next year. I’m hoping we can focus on the policy and not the politics,” said Rep. Katherine Sims, D-Craftsbury.

If the governor follows through on his threat, a path forward for Act 250 reform is murky. Lawmakers say they currently are not planning on scheduling a veto session.

Related Stories:

Vt. House fails to override ‘just cause’ eviction, ‘Clean Heat Standard’ vetoes

Act 250 reforms remain a legislative work in progress

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