Vt. House poised to approve $8B budget; Senate gives nod to housing bill

Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 6:26 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - The Vermont House of Representatives Thursday debated a proposed $8 billion budget that makes investments in housing, child care, and paid family leave. It’s a massive broadening of the social safety net that the governor -- and many lawmakers -- have said they have concerns about how to pay for.

The proposed budget funnels $90 million into child care, $30 million into universal paid family leave, $100 million into housing, $48 million into workforce development, and $46 million into Medicaid rate hikes.

There’s a shared understanding among all parties at the Statehouse about what the pressing needs of Vermonters are. But Thursday’s debate showcased lawmakers’ dueling versions of their visions of how to achieve those goals. Both parties held back-to-back press briefings ahead of the debate.

Republicans say the spending plan is too large -- and raises taxes on Vermonters that will end up hurting the people lawmakers intend to help. “Disappointed that at a time where we have record surpluses and one-time money, the majority is looking to raise new taxes,” said Rep. Patricia McCoy, R-Poultney.

With federally-fueled state surpluses expected to cool off, Republicans say they are concerned about the future funding of these new programs. “On this time of record surpluses, the party is almost over,” said Sen. Randy Brock, R-Franklin County.

But Democrats say these policies will lift up all Vermonters and lay a foundation for the future. “The cost of not doing anything and the cost of not taking action is greater than what we are talking about,” said House Speaker Jill Krowinski, D-Burlington. They add that voluntary plans offered by the Scott administration don’t meet the complex and growing needs of Vermonters.

A vote could come as early as Thursday evening. The Senate still has to come up with its version and both chambers will likely have to reconcile their differences before sending it to the governor.


The Vermont Senate Thursday gave preliminary approval to a sweeping housing bill aimed at easing the housing crunch.

It’s estimated Vermont will need up to 40,000 housing units before the end of the decade. In what’s been the most comprehensive housing bill in years, S.100 seeks to strike a balance between reforming local zoning reforms and Act 250.

Senate lawmakers Friday are expected to take up several amendments that would greatly expand Act 250 exemptions to more communities, trying to strike a balance between development needs and keeping the state’s rural character.

The bill still needs to cross over to the House, where it’s expected to undergo other changes.