Vetoes $120 million childcare bill, override vote expected June 20
By Guy Page
Gov. Phil Scott yesterday vetoed a $120 million childcare bill because it relies on a slippery-slope payroll tax and ignores a cheaper, but still effective plan set forth by his administration.
H217 would subsidize childcare centers and spend more on pre-K in public schools. At his press conference yesterday, Scott stressed that he wants Vermont to become the #1 childcare spender among the 50 states.
His administration’s plan to allocate $56 million from existing revenue sources would raise family eligibility to four times the federal poverty level – the highest in the nation, he claimed. A family of four could earn $105,000 and still qualify, he said.
But what Scott won’t stand for is funding childcare via a payroll tax.
“The payroll tax itself has never been used this way before,” he said. “Once the door’s open, it takes a little bit out of everyone’s pocket, they will be going back to the well time and time again.”
A payroll tax is especially unfair when the Legislature could have spent some of the large surplus, he added.
Other bills vetoed by Scott and subject to possible override at the June 20-22 Special Session of the Legislature are:
S.6, juvenile crime
S.39, legislative pay increase
H.386, underage voting in Brattleboro
H.494, state budget
H.509, non-citizen voting in Burlington
S.5, Clean Heat Standard, was overridden by the Legislature last month.
Sen. Phil Baruth promised to override the veto:
“Phil Scott’s veto of this year’s historic childcare bill comes as no surprise, unfortunately. 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. 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.
“Fortunately, overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate have made it clear that the Governor’s rhetoric on this issue will not be the last word. This bill will be our number one priority for the veto override session, at which time we will speak loudly, in the only way that matters in the end. We will vote to end the childcare deserts in our state, and we will vote to pay childcare professionals a respectable wage. Vermont’s kids can’t wait any longer.”
House Speaker Jill Krowinski added:
“The Governor vetoed a bill that would have cost an individual Vermonter, earning the median wage less than $1.00 dollar per week. That is a truly significant benefit for Vermonters at a minimal cost. This bill, along with base funding invested in the budget vetoed by the Governor, would allow for increases in child care subsidies, which would provide for families to find and afford quality care while guaranteeing higher wages for early childhood educators and staff.”