Vermont Gov. Phil Scott outlines spending priorities in $8.4B budget address
MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Gov. Phil Scott on Friday pitched an $8.4 billion state spending plan. It’s the largest budget in Vermont history and is packed with one-time investments the governor says won’t raise taxes.
The Republican governor walked into the chamber facing a majority of Democrats.
“This is undoubtedly the most significant budget I have presented in my time as governor,” Scott said.
He unveiled a budget proposal packed with a slew of initiatives, like $200 million of one-time investments in housing, workforce training, child care, health care and tax cuts-- all fueled by federal money.
“This is too important to let slip through our fingers, so we must not squander this opportunity,” Scott said.
The moderate Republican proposes nearly $80 million toward rehabbing old homes, reforming regulations and housing the homeless.
He wants to take aim at climate change by assessing where the state is in meeting its goals and evaluating where to invest going forward.
Scott is also pitching big investments in higher ed, the workforce, state colleges and mental health.
“We have a lot of ground to make up in our mental health system,” he said.
Scott’s plan also allocates $160 million for future expenses, matching federal infrastructure funds, clean water, PFAS contamination and future FEMA claims which may be denied.
“There are many projects that have been on the books for decades, and we’ve been handed the opportunity to move them forward now,” the governor said.
Scott is also unveiling his own child care plan which he says does not raise taxes. It funnels $56 million in subsidies for people at 400% of the poverty level, nearly doubling the number of families served.
“And it achieves all this without asking families with less to pay for families with more,” Scott said.
Along with tax cuts to the tune of $17 million coming your way.
Top Democrats say some of Scott’s proposals won’t go far enough. They warn underfunding child care and climate will lead to failures later on.
“We now give horribly insufficient funding for child care. What the governor’s proposal does is extend horribly insufficient funding to more people,” said Sen. Phil Baruth, D-Vt. President Pro Tem.
“We need to see the details but I am concerned this isn’t a long-term solution. This is one step in a much longer process that we need to evaluate,” said Jill Krowinski, D-Vt. House Speaker.
Republicans, who are in the minority in the House and Senate, like what they heard and say they will work to carry Scott’s message.
“We just have to keep hammering to say no new taxes, no new fees; Vermonters cannot afford it,” said Rep. Pattie McCoy, R-Poultney.
In a final message to lawmakers, Scott is asking the Democratic majority to work across the aisle.
“The choices we make this session, right or wrong, will have tremendous consequences on our state long into the future,” he said. “So, let’s make the right decisions, not just the easy ones.”
Lawmakers will now take the governor’s budget and make changes over the next four months until they pass a budget of their own.
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