Legislative pay hike veto stands – for now

Legislature funds homeless hotels, overrides Scott vetoes of budget, childcare, and teenage voting

By Guy Page

The Vermont Senate decided Tuesday morning to avoid veto override votes on two bills, including the controversial legislative pay and benefits increase. By contrast, the Vermont House overrode all five vetos on its agenda and also passed a bill continuing ‘homeless hotel’ funding.

The Senate had two possible veto overrides to consider: S.6, banning manipulative, deceitful police interrogation of minors, and S.39, a controversial pay and benefits increase for legislators.

S.39 would give the next and every future Legislature a steep raise, plus adjournment pay, plus State of Vermont employee-level health care benefits, plus several other benefits that, when toted up, equal almost $50,000 (estimated) per legislator. 

Supporters say it will increase the racial and age diversity of the General Assembly. Opponents say legislating should remain a part-time public service, not a well-paid part-time or full-time job.

Senate President Phil Baruth (D-Central Chittenden County) didn’t tell Senate colleagues Tuesday why he wanted to return S.39 to the Government Operations Committee. It’s likely the bill’s supporters – Baruth included – were unable to persuade any additional senators to vote yes on a bill that never gathered 20 “yes” votes during regular session roll calls. Rather than hold an embarrassing vote upholding Scott’s veto, the bill was instead returned to its committee of origin.

When Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman asked the ‘return-to-committee’ question, only a few senators voted “nay.” One of them was Senator Tanya Vyhovsky (P-Chittenden).

Vyhovsky told her colleagues that serving in the Legislature has meant taking a pay cut from her social worker job, and that she lives “paycheck to paycheck.” “The barriers for service are astronomical, and for most Vermonters they are actually insurmountable,” Vyhovsky said. “I am deeply saddened that we can’t move forward.”

Baruth seconded her sentiment, and promised to get a pay hike passed – eventually. “It may be that it needs to be a slightly skinnier bill to get passage…either way we will come back to this issue until we get it right,” he said. 

Scott vetoed S.6 because the State of Vermont is treating juveniles like adults in many other respects. Senate Judiciary will work on the bill off-session and have another version ready by January, Judiciary Chair Richard Sears said. He remains committed to the bill’s goals.  “You shouldn’t lie to kids during an interrogation,” Sears said. “We need to pass a bill that all sides can live with.”

Before the vote, the Campaign for Vermont, a citizen advocacy group, suggested a non-legislative committee weigh the pros and cons of a pay and benefits hike. Shorter sessions and term limits also might legislative service more accessible, CFV President and former legislator and administration official Pat McDonald said.

“While we are all for making the Vermont legislature more accessible, legislators should not be voting themselves salary increases of this magnitude,” McDonald said. “Where else does someone get to set their own salary? This would be an appropriate use of an independent commission. Other options to increase diversity that should be considered include shortening or changing the structure of the legislative session to make it more flexible for people with outside employment. Additionally, term limits should be considered if compensations is raised to this degree.”

The House and Senate both overrode vetos on the following bills:

H. 217, Child care, early education, workers’ compensation, and unemployment insurance, 116 yes, 31 no

Gov. Phil Scott vetoed the $120 million childcare bill subsidizing childcare centers and pre-K school programs because, he said, it relies on a slippery-slope payroll tax and ignores a cheaper, voluntary plan set forth by his administration. 

H.305, raising fees for professional licensure, 109-38

H.386, Brattleboro charter change allowing 16-17 year olds to vote and hold office locally, 110-37

H. 494, the $8.5 billion state budget, 105-42. Democratic leadership feared 17 Progressives and Democrats might vote against the budget because it didn’t continue funding the ‘homeless hotel’ pandemic-era emergency housing program. However, before the veto override votes were held, the House amended a Senate adult services bill to restore ‘homeless hotel’ funding, albeit with eligibility restrictions. The bill directs the administration to find the funding from existing revenue. 

H. 509, non-citizen voting in Burlington, 111-36

Categories: Legislation

12 replies »

  1. It appears that ms. vyhovsky assertion of “living paycheck to paycheck” is her choice- she may alter her lifestyle at her discretion- or not. It is also evident that “taking a pay cut” while absent from he employment as a social worker is a standard business practice and if a state employed social worker, certainly required.
    The elitist attitude clearly demonstrated by baruth, vyhovsky and a plurality of our “legislators” is indicative of their goals and self interest. It is not what qualities are required for an elected representative.

  2. Hey Tanya: GO BACK TO YOUR REAL JOB. This was formed as a PART-TIME citizen legislature, not as a means of padding your purse – or wallet….my, what an “ist” thing for me to say, implying that women carry purses. The horror of all it all.

    “Progressives”. Fruit Loops. But at least the latter serves as a tasty midnight snack with milk! Uh-oh….milk?! Another horrific reference as the dreaded, planet-destroying COWS make milk.

    Please forgive my awful ist-isms today, Tanya.

    • Senator Tanya Vyhovsky doesn’t have a ‘real’ job. She is the consummate progressive Vermont social worker, always in search of a victim to serve (it’s a cookbook). Without a victim, she would have no raison d’être. In fact, Ms. Vyhovsky is the poster child for progressive hypocrisy. In her final analysis, we see that it’s all about her, her work, and her pay rate. It’s anything but her job performance. Ms. Vyhovsky recognizes that if she were successful in achieving her goal of helping those who can’t help themselves, she would be out of a job. And the only reason she can claim to be taking a pay cut when serving in the State Senate is because she is grossly over-paid by the failing Vermont public education system of which she is a part. The term ‘parasite’ comes to mind.

      • “Parasites are organisms that live in, on or with another organism (host). They feed, grow or multiply in a way that harms their host. However, they need their host for their survival. For this reason, they rarely kill their host, but they often carry diseases that can be life-threatening.”

      • Senator Tanya Vyhovsky (P-Chittenden).

        Now we see what the (P) really stands for. The only reason the legislative pay veto wasn’t over-ridden is because the parasites determined that it might kill the host.

  3. We need less government any way. Politicians don’t want everyone to know they aren’t needed. So they won’t sit there and not pass new laws. So they come up with new taxes and such to look important. At this point they only need to act for instances like Storm Irene. Actually they should undo the law passed to ban combustion engine car sales by 2035, I think.

  4. Thank you for broaching the alternative solutions Pat ! We’ll never hear any of them from any of our Legislators !

  5. Congratulations to the Vermont Legislature – you have officially hammered that last nail into the coffin. Your deeds are done. Now comes the pain! Your hardened hearts, merchandised souls, and willful criminal conduct has not gone undocumented or unnoticed. You are led to the brim of the pit on purpose. The purpose shall now manifest, the consequences will unfold in haste, and all will witness darkness, while some will be led out by His light. Declared and decreed.

  6. Vyhovsky displays the typical leftist victim/entitlement mentality. Now that SHE is in the Legislature, she thinks her wants and needs take priority. So lame. The private sector is calling her.

  7. Oh don’t worry your heads off about this generous pay increase…. it will be coming back. This was just a momentary concession for all the veto overrides. We need to be taking names of all the senators and house reps on this and other matters. They are unstoppable due to the numbers they have. Vote republican for a much needed change or you will get a lot more of this lumpy lukewarm pablum again real soon. Run for office or help find someone in your community that you can get behind.

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