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Vt. Legislature adjourns historic session defined by pandemic

Published: May. 12, 2022 at 5:25 PM EDT|Updated: May. 12, 2022 at 8:12 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - An $8 billion state spending plan is headed to the desk of Vt. Gov. Phil Scott. The budget ends a historic legislative session defined by the pandemic with huge investments in housing, broadband, and tax relief.

With the fall of the gavel, the 2022 legislative session came to an end Thursday. The biennium was defined by remote lawmaking, the pandemic, and hundreds of millions of dollars in federal cash.

During a final scramble at the Statehouse, lawmakers passed longstanding bills on tax policy and Act 250 reform. The final budget includes a $1,000 annual Vermont child tax credit, a student loan interest deduction, and expands Social Security tax exemptions. It also exempts up to $10,000 in military retirement pay. It does not include the full exemption Governor Scott wanted.

“We think people should be treated equally. Once you start saying one group of people is worth more than another, I can’t say that military people are more worthy than police or firefighters or other people that put their lives on the line,” said Sen. Anne Cummings, D-Washington County.

The Democrat-dominated chambers also worked to pass last-minute Act 250 reform and address a veto threat from the Republican governor. Scott said one version of the bill would increase red tape and make building housing harder. So, Senators engaged in a late-session shuffle and attached provisions to a separate housing bill that they say the governor will be able to support.

“We benefit from 50 years of Act 250 work that’s already gone on plus municipal planning that has Vermont a great place to live. We want to develop but we want to do it thoughtfully and that involves some controversy,” said Sen. Chris Bray, D-Addison County.

House and Senate lawmakers passed their $8 billion spending plan and addressed their colleagues, reflecting on investing millions in workforce investments, broadband, education, and more. “You showed up energized, ready to work diligently on the important issues that needed to be tackled to create a brighter future, one that leaves no Vermonter behind,” said House Speaker Jill Krowinski, D-Burlington.

For the first time in three years, Governor Scott addressed lawmakers in person and reflected on their work and the areas of bipartisanship. “We will be the example for others and show that putting politics aside is the best way to get the people the results they deserve and that’s just what we did,” Scott said.

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