Scott, Balint at odds over budget priorities

Scott threatens veto over one-time spending and inclusion of vetoed bill language

By Guy Page

The leader of the Vermont Senate and the Governor Phil Scott both have gone public with their budget priorities. As the Legislature moved toward passing the $8 billion 2022-23 fiscal year budget bill in the coming weeks, the governor has said he’s not afraid to veto it if necessary.

In particular, Gov. Scott has said he deplores excessive spending on budget items that use federal recovery money now, but will require state funding when the money runs out. He also opposes the Legislature sneaking language of bills that have already been vetoed into the budget bill, the culminating piece of legislation for the 2022 session. 

A statement issued by Senate Pro Tem Becca Balint (D-Windham) highlighted the Senate budget:

  • $70 million in housing investments for the development of affordable and middle income Housing.
  • 8% rate increase for community mental health providers under tremendous stress..
  • Almost $15 million to support the transformation and stabilization of the Vermont State College system, on top of $10million base increases to both the State Colleges and UVM
  • More than $100 million in workforce and economic development funds to support hard-hit sectors of the economy
  • Increased investments in:
  • Treatment facilities and peer-support recovery centers for those experiencing substance use disorder around the state
  • courthouse security
  • Child care providers, Children’s Integrated Services, and parent child centers that to provide wraparound services and key prevention for families at risk 
  • Legal aid services related to health care and poverty law

Key investments across House and Senate:

  • More than $200 million to address climate change, including $80 million for weatherization in low and middle income households
  • $95 million in broadband connectivity
  • Historic investments to hold up the legislature’s end of the bargain in protecting our public employee pensions

An April 19 statement by Scott noted that “from what we’ve seen thus far,” the Senate budget reduces or eliminates funding Scott proposed for:

  • Substance abuse prevention programs;
  • Tax relief for seniors on fixed incomes, military veterans, low-income Vermonters, nurses and childcare workers and more;
  • Economic development for rural and small communities that have seen economic stagnation and decline over the last ten years;
  • A capital investment program, which would help small businesses like childcare centers and local general stores survive and recover from the pandemic;
  • Career and Technical Education;
  • Workforce retention and recruitment initiatives;
  • Cell phone tower expansion, and more. 

Categories: Legislation

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