Vermont Gov. Phil Scott proposes $6.1 billion budget

Published 01-25-2019

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Gov. Phil Scott proposed a $6.1 billion budget for the next fiscal year Thursday, asking lawmakers to approve proposals that will attempt to bolster Vermont's declining labor force and help fund the long-term cleanup of Lake Champlain.

For the first time since taking office two years ago, the Republican governor proposed $18 million in new revenue from new and increases in taxes and fees, with most of the money coming from enhanced sales taxes on internet transactions, taxing e-cigarettes and financial industry fees.

He also proposed $7 million more for child care and additional funds for the University of Vermont and the state college system. The budget represents about a 2 percent increase over the current year.

"As our demographics demonstrate, we can't afford to do things the way we've always done them, not if we want to maintain services, revitalize every county and invest more in our priorities," he said during his nearly 40-minute address before a joint session of the state's House and Senate.

Immediately after his speech, Democratic House Speaker Mitzi Johnson said she was encouraged by the tone of the governor's proposals and his willingness to work with lawmakers in crafting a budget together.

This year, Democratic gains in the Vermont House gave Democrats a veto-proof majority in both the House and Senate.

"He used the phrase 'these are ideas to get the conversation started,'" Johnson said in her Statehouse office. "And I think there were pieces of the speech that were ... initiatives that this Legislature, that the House, has passed a number of times."

Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe, a Democrat and Progressive, also said he appreciated the tone of Scott's address and that lawmakers would look to find common ground with the governor where possible. But he added that Vermont needed "more than incremental new initiatives" and said he was urging Senate committees to propose "bolder, more comprehensive solutions."

As he has done since taking office, Scott focused on the challenge the state is facing with an aging and shrinking workforce and a declining number of school-age children.

In his proposal, he called for more money to help entice people to come to Vermont and ensure the necessary infrastructure, such as high-speed broadband, is available for businesses and homes, especially in rural parts of the state.

To help comb

"He used the phrase 'these are ideas to get the conversation started,'" Johnson said in her Statehouse office. "And I think there were pieces of the speech that were ... initiatives that this Legislature, that the House, has passed a number of times."

Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe, a Democrat and Progressive, also said he appreciated the tone of Scott's address and that lawmakers would look to find common ground with the governor where possible. But he added that Vermont needed "more than incremental new initiatives" and said he was urging Senate committees to propose "bolder, more comprehensive solutions."

As he has done since taking office, Scott focused on the challenge the state is facing with an aging and shrinking workforce and a declining number of school-age children.

In his proposal, he called for more money to help entice people to come to Vermont and ensure the necessary infrastructure, such as high-speed broadband, is available for businesses and homes, especially in rural parts of the state.

To help combat climate change, Scott proposed incentives to make it easier for people to buy electric vehicles and proposed buying more electric vehicles for state use.

Vermont has been looking for ways to fund the long-term cleanup of Lake Champlain. The Environmental Protection Agency is requiring that the state do more to clean up the 120-mile-long lake, specifically by reducing phosphorus runoff that causes toxic algae blooms.

The governor's proposal includes nearly $48 million for clean water projects and would make changes to the state's estate tax that could provide an ongoing $8 million for ongoing lake cleanup projects.

Johnson and other House leaders say they're looking forward to hearing more details of the governor's proposals.

As he has done since taking office, Scott focused on the challenge the state is facing with an aging and shrinking workforce and a declining number of school-age children.

In his proposal, he called for more money to help entice people to come to Vermont and ensure the necessary infrastructure, such as high-speed broadband, is available for businesses and homes, especially in rural parts of the state.

To help combat climate change, Scott proposed incentives to make it easier for people to buy electric vehicles and proposed buying more electric vehicles for state use.

Vermont has been looking for ways to fund the long-term cleanup of Lake Champlain. The Environmental Protection Agency is requiring that the state do more to clean up the 120-mile-long lake, specifically by reducing phosphorus runoff that causes toxic algae blooms.

The governor's proposal includes nearly $48 million for clean water projects and would make changes to the state's estate tax that could provide an ongoing $8 million for ongoing lake cleanup projects.

Johnson and other House leaders say they're looking forward to hearing more details of the governor's proposals.

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