Scott vetoes child care reform bill

Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 3:57 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont Gov. Phil Scott Tuesday carried through on his threats to veto Democrats’ $150 million overhaul of the state’s child care system, a major priority this session that lawmakers will almost certainly attempt to override.

House Bill 217 -- nearly a decade in the making -- would raise wages for child care providers and increase subsidies for parents.

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

Scott says he attempted to provide a compromise package that was sustainable and did not involve raising taxes. “If we had gone with the proposal that I put forward -- the $56 million out of organic growth from existing resources -- we would have been tied for number one in the nation for generosity -- that’s a bold statement,” Scott said at a media briefing Tuesday afternoon.

But some advocacy groups have said the governor’s original proposal didn’t go far enough to shore up the state’s child care crisis. “What we have found in talking with Vermonters is Vermont is not affordable today. So, the question becomes what are we going to do together? Investing in child care is one of those things we can do, we can agree on and it pays for itself,” said Aly Richards with Let’s Grow Kids.

House Speaker Jill Krowinski, D- Burlington, and Senate President Phil Baruth, D- Chittenden County, issued statements calling the veto a setback and say they will work to override the veto when they return to Montpelier on June 20. “During his years in office, the Governor has talked about the need to expand and enrich our childcare offerings, but he has never been willing to address the problem at the scale it demands,” Baruth said. “H.217 represents an authentic, long-term solution to our childcare crisis by helping parents afford care and helping caregivers afford to stay in their profession.”

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