Vt. lawmakers strike deal on $150M child care package; bill faces veto

Published: May. 11, 2023 at 6:01 PM EDT|Updated: May. 11, 2023 at 7:56 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - With the clock ticking down to the Legislature’s adjournment, lawmakers Thursday struck a deal on funding a $150 million overhaul of the state’s child care system, a Democratic priority this session that faces an almost certain veto from the governor.

After weeks of brinkmanship between both chambers, lawmakers settled on the Senate’s preferred way of funding the child care package through a 0.44% payroll tax split between employer and employees.

House lawmakers had wanted to fund it through an increase in personal and corporate income taxes but the Senate argued their method was fairer.

“I think we can feel relieved and proud in the progress that we will have made in strengthening our child care programs,” said Sen. Jane Kitchel, D-Caledonia County "

“Hundreds of programs would close if we did not make an investment in child care right now. Everyone felt that urgency. We also know when we get it right, we put people back to work, we give kids what they need, we start putting our economy on a sustainable path,” said Aly Richards with the group Let’s Grow Kids.

Another Democratic priority -- universal paid family-and-medical leave -- will be taken back up next session. The goal was to pay for that with a payroll tax, so lawmakers will have to recalibrate later this year.

The breakthrough in the Statehouse stalemate paves the way for the House and Senate to pass their budgets and attempt to adjourn Friday.

Gov. Phil Scott Friday said that with no new sustained revenue for that child care package, he cannot support the tax increase.

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