In budget speech, Gov. Scott cites demographics, regional inequality as biggest challenges

The Governor points to a demographic crisis and regional inequity as state’s biggest challenges; Offers agenda and vision for addressing them

The following is a press release issued by the office of Gov. Phil Scott, following his budget address today.

Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott today delivered his fourth budget address, presenting a balanced budget that limits spending growth to a total of just two percent across all funds and does not raise taxes or service fees paid by Vermonters, such as drivers’ license, vehicle registrations, permit application, park admission or hunting and fishing fees. 

ADDRESSING THE DEMOGRAPHIC CRISIS

Governor Scott once again urged the Legislature to focus investments to reverse Vermont’s demographic crisis and strengthen the state’s fiscal foundation. Scott said addressing demographics trends, and the economic challenges they are creating across the state, is the only way to ensure that the state can continue to invest in essential services and shared priorities.

“Our demographic crisis is, without question, the greatest challenge we face as a state,” said Governor Scott. “Confronting this crisis is the only way we’ll be able to address other critical needs – whether it’s human services, public safety, transportation or climate change and transitioning to a clean energy economy.” 

REVITALIZING COUNTY ECONOMIC CENTERS & SMALL TOWNS

Governor Scott, who has highlighted the growing economic inequity from region to region, outlined several initiatives aimed at revitalizing regional economic centers across Vermont, including a $3.1 million Community Investment Package. This package proposes a $1.4 million increase to the state’s successful Downtown and Village Center Tax Credit program, a $1 million investment to rehabilitate existing housing stock in Vermont’s towns and villages, and additional incentives and grants for community revitalization.

EXPANDING THE WORKFORCE

Continuing his focus on strengthening and expanding Vermont’s workforce, the Governor’s recommended budget invests in training, retention and recruitment, including a proposal to double the number of apprenticeships for licensed trades, like plumbers and electricians over the next two years; and $1 million in incentives to retain graduates with nursing degrees to fill critical openings in the state’s healthcare sector. 

“Since 2017, we’ve added more than 700 apprentices to our workforce, which includes a 36% increase in the number of women in these important programs,” Scott said. “Apprenticeships are great opportunities for Vermonters to ‘earn while they learn,’ gaining the specific job skills they need in a wide range of industries with an average wage after completion of over $20 an hour.” 

Scott also proposed unifying the state’s adult education, adult career and technical education and workforce training delivered through the Community College of Vermont, Vermont Technical College, regional technical education centers and other partners.

To keep and attract more retiring veterans and assist their transition to the civilian workforce, Scott again proposed eliminating the tax on military pensions. And, in addition to his work with the federal government to resettle more refugees in Vermont, Scott proposed a new grant program to help more communities welcome refugees and legal immigrants.

MAJOR INVESTMENTS IN CHILDCARE, HEALTHCARE REFORM & CLIMATE CHANGE

Governor Scott also put forward major investments in his other priorities like childcare, healthcare reform and confronting climate change – all focused on growing the economy and making Vermont more affordable for families and businesses.

In addition to a new $3 million electric vehicle, clean energy, energy storage and electric grid optimization package – which proposes, among other things, to support the creation of energy innovation jobs by exempting these companies from the corporate income tax – he proposed directing 25% of all future budget surpluses be dedicated to home weatherization and transportation electrification initiatives.

Finally, the Governor emphasized the benefits of a collaborative approach to address the demographic and economic trajectory of the state, concluding, “If we accept the challenge, set clear objectives, have the discipline to commit to solutions and follow through, together, we can reverse these trends. We can restore economic vitality to every corner of our state. We can make Vermont more affordable for every family and every business. And we’ll ensure Vermont lives up to our proud traditions for generations to come and meets all our potential for a bright future.”