Special session scheduled at Statehouse for budget showdown

MONTPELIER — There won’t likely be a veto session, but there will be a showdown at the Statehouse to handle unfinished business on the state budget.

U.S. Department of State

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott

Gov. Phil Scott on Tuesday named a date for a special session to address financial matters after his expected veto of the $5.86 billion budget proposed by the Legislature. It will begin May 23 and likely run for two days.

In recent weeks Scott has doubled down on his 2016 campaign promise of no new taxes or fees. He continues to emphasize that Vermonters are exhausted from the high cost of living and high costs for businesses.

He has said he will not support the current budget proposal that would increase taxes on Vermonters by almost $50 million, including $33 million in property taxes. Instead, he is urging lawmakers to fix the budget deficit using this year’s $82 million in revenue growth, $34 million from the attorney general’s tobacco settlement, and $44 million in revenue surpluses.

“That’s $160 million more revenue available to them without raising taxes,” Scott said in a statement.

Meanwhile, his political opponents, including his own lieutenant governor, are saying the Vermont governor should cooperate with the majority party on the budget and other bills he has threatened to veto.

“Unfortunately, there has also been a void in leadership from the Governor,” Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman said in a statement. “On many critical issues, incomplete ideas were presented at the last minute making it impossible for sufficient legislative vetting.”

House Minority Leader Don Turner, R-Milton, told True North that while the Republican caucus had a mixed vote on the budget, he personally backs the governor.

“The governor was very clear for many weeks that he wasn’t going to raise taxes or fees. That is what he ran on and that’s what he’s delivering, and I fully support that,” Turner said. “I think with the additional $180 million in revenue that we should be able to balance the budget and go home without raising taxes.”

Bruce Parker/TNR

House Minority Leader Don Turner, R-Milton

Turner added that there is another $9 million found in the education fund and other estimates that Scott may not have included in his $160 million figure for extra funds. In any case, they agree that there’s enough extra money available to avoid tax hikes.

Asked how taxes are going up with so much extra revenue, Turner noted that some surplus money is going to unfunded debts such as $34 million towards the state’s future pension liabilities. The governor himself has referenced unfunded debts as a priority.

However, Turner doesn’t see a strong chance that Scott’s anticipated vetoes will be addressed in the special session. Bills Scott intends to veto include the $15 minimum wage hike, paid family leave and others.

“Those bills all died,” Turner said. “In the special session, it’s an entirely new session. We’ll have to take up those bills all over again just like they did before.”

Turner said those bills could still come up again in the special session, but he doesn’t predict it will amount to much.

“I’m sure they will [come up again], but I don’t know what they are going to accomplish. I mean they can pass the bills and they are just going to get vetoed again and they are just going to die again,” he said.

Turner said his side has already offered up terms for a compromise. His goal is to pass the budget and no new taxes and fees “using as much of the one-time money to fill a gap with the understanding that there are some policy changes that will reduce spending in the out years so we don’t have more and more one-time money required.”

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at bielawski82@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Images courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR, U.S. Department of State and Bruce Parker/TNR

8 thoughts on “Special session scheduled at Statehouse for budget showdown

  1. But all those liberals keep getting voted back into office. Stop bitching and start replacing the irresponsible legislative spenders with conservatives or stop bitching and keep paying out.

    • The trouble is, the major populations are in the big city areas. Liberals (Flatlanders) moved into those areas and expect “Gov benefits”. So they vote to get and keep their way. Until the country folk overcome that obstacle, common sense won’t prevail.

      Mentioning some liberal areas: Windham Cty, Burlington area, Rutland, Bennington. There are a few legislators that come from other areas and they constantly fight, but are overcome.

      Perhps people will read articles like this one and get educated reading the comments. I’ve noted some legislators are a following and comment.

      What else can be said?

      • People express their thoughts and knowledge via comments and other means. I have discovered many avenues of great info by reading the messages. I and I expect others are not just venting by posting, it’s a summary of concerns.

        In my instance (and I expect others) comments are a forum to reach out to a bigger world and hopefully in that mode, others will become more concerned. Also I don’t just do comments for the fun of it. I have my circle of friends and family from WA, SD, FL, NH, VT, AL, MD, TX, OH, UK, AU, etc in which we exchange-expand the base- info and comments. So a bigger world exists beyond True North Reports. I suspect other commentators do the same. I have read comments from great writers and have a few I wish I could talk to directly. In a sense it’s like a family.

        As said I’ve gained a lot of knowledge via comments and compiled links, articles about many subjects. If I comment it’s to show concern and hopefully export some of my (limited) expertise. My mind is a sponge to gain more knowledge that affects my life and those close to me.

        So the comment section of articles isn’t a bitching post. People are concerned and are doing things, but in VT it seems to be irrelevant. Perhaps the pendulum will swing back to reality.

        My two cents.

  2. Quoting: Turner said. “I think with the additional $180 million in revenue that we should be able to balance the budget and go home without raising taxes.”

    Does “taxes” have a new name? Tell me how Montpelier raises $180 million without raising taxes–voodoo economics. Last I knew, States cannot print their own money. Turner is a “republican”??? It stinks of Liberalism and total crapology. Doesn’t matter who’s in Montpelier they all stink the same.

  3. We may have a Republican Governor, but the Progressive Democrats have the control
    in Montpelier. Be prepared for a TAX Hike.

    And get this line “Unfortunately, there has also been a void in leadership from the Governor,
    Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman said in a statement. Isn’t he special.

    If you think the State is in trouble today, wait until Zuckerman runs for Governor he’s frothing
    at the bit. God Help Us !!

  4. $33 million more in property taxes, which of course, go to support our failing public schools; cesspools of liberalism. The money does NOT go to support the kids; it goes to provide a nice life style for the teachers. Period. Yeah, gee, let’s keep throwing money at them in HOPES they will provide a better education. But they won’t. Where’s the incentive?

  5. Really, Zucker-SPEND didn’t agree with a plan to reduce the tax burden on working Vermonters ? who would have thought? That man is owned by the teachers union and other far left entitlement organizations.

  6. The governors new found buddys the Regressive/Commiecrats are going to use the special session he is going to call to fork him over and he is blind to it.
    He isn’t going to have a shoulder to cry on as the majority of his voters he stabbed in the back.
    I voted for him once and that will never happen again as I don’t vote for proven liars and Constitutional violators.

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