Gavel closes epic Vt. special session

Published: Jun. 29, 2018 at 2:33 PM EDT
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Vermont lawmakers Friday officially ended their special legislative session, and while the state budget they passed will become law Saturday, the process to get it was far from smooth.

It took six weeks of a special legislative session, but Vermont has a state budget for the new fiscal year, and lawmakers have gone home.

"This session is now adjourned," said House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, D-South Hero, bringing down the gavel.

While the House and Senate may be done, there are lingering hard feelings about Gov. Phil Scott's demands late in the legislative session for a second year in a row. Johnson says she hopes that practice will also end. "I wanna make sure that next year everyone's proposals are out on the table by the governor's budget address, which is where every other governor before Phil Scott has been able to do it," she said.

House Minority Leader Don Turner, R-Milton, a candidate for lieutenant governor, says there's room to improve the process next year. "I think communication has got to improve going forward," he said.

Scott vetoed two previous spending plans and drew firm lines in the sand, saying he wouldn't negotiate from his position of no increase in property tax rates. It's left some former legislative colleagues questioning if he's a different man. The governor says no. "I haven't changed. It's just that I'm in a different position," Scott said.

Scott didn't sign the final budget and it will become law Saturday without his signature, but he says he shares the praise for its benefits to Vermonters with lawmakers. "I think we should all take credit for it. It's good work and provides relief for Vermonters," he said.

Turner says despite the dispute that led to legislative overtime, the session was positive for Vermonters. "I think there's a lot of things that Vermonters will benefit from this biennium. Unfortunately, what they'll remember most is this end," he said.

The Governor says he will look to improve his work with legislative leaders. "I have some responsibility in terms of trying to develop a good rapport with them. I was meeting with them every week until the very end, but they could be more productive and we could do things differently. We're all learning," Scott said.