On June 26, 2024
Opinions

The impact of veto overrides

By Gov. Phil Scott

Editor’s note: At his weekly press conference Wednesday, June 19 Governor Phil Scott addressed the impact the Legislature’s veto overrides will have on Vermont taxpayers, workers and families and their ability to afford to live in the state. What follows is a transcript of his remarks.

The Legislature voted to override six of my vetoes. As you might remember, after the last week of a chaotic end of the session, where they passed 70 bills in three days, I talked about how we were going to review each bill and weigh the good against the bad when deciding whether to sign the bill, let it go without signature, or veto the bill.

And, with each veto, I included a letter explaining my concerns and described a path forward, where neither got everything we wanted, but each gave a little.

As some may frame this as a loss for me, and a win for the Legislature, the reality is, it’s a major loss for Vermont taxpayers, workers, and families.

Unfortunately, what has become typical of the Legislature is their unwillingness to meet me in the middle, to come to a reasonable compromise.

Yesterday, the Legislature proved once again, they don’t need to consider my perspective or proposals.

And what’s sad about that is their strategy only hurts everyday Vermonters. Because it’s Vermonters who pay the price.

When I travel around the state and talk to people, so many are worried about how expensive it is to live here, and they wonder how they’re going to make ends meet.

It’s them who will pay a higher property tax, while schools struggle to put forward reasonable budgets.

It’s them who will pay more to turn the lights on, or heat their homes, because of the renewable energy standard and clean heat standard.

It’s our rural communities, who will continue to suffer in the future, due to the expansion of Act 250 and will have fewer tools to help them with housing and making life more affordable.

And it’s Vermonters who are already paying 20% more at the DMV, and will face a new payroll tax starting July 1, all while being crushed by inflation.

So, as some may frame this as a loss for me, and a win for the Legislature, the reality is, it’s a major loss for Vermont taxpayers, workers, and families.

For six months, the Legislature has known about the property tax increase facing Vermonters. We warned them in our December 1st letter that there was an 18% property tax increase heading their way, but instead of sounding the alarm, they said I was fearmongering and the Pro Tem promised to get it down to “1 1/2 maybe 2%.”

Instead, Vermonters will face a historic double digit property tax increase this year of about 14%.

And yesterday, they were even declaring victory, when they said they had gotten it down more than 33%. But, what they failed to mention was, that 33% reduction is compared to the projected 18% increase. That’s like raising the price of a loaf of bread by 60% and then having a 20% off sale.

They also failed to mention they raised taxes and fees in other areas to give you 33% off. And because nothing was done to address the structural problems, we’ll see this same thing play out again in about 6 months.

From my first day in office, I’ve been clear about my priorities to make Vermont more affordable, protect the most vulnerable, and grow the economy.

My team has spent this entire legislative session trying to keep costs down for Vermonters, while working to make housing more affordable and more available, improving our education system for kids and taxpayers, and revitalizing communities, so we can keep and attract the workers we desperately need.

It’s clear this Legislature, led by the super majority, has little interest in compromise or taking a moderate approach on any issue.

As I’ve said, I feel obligated to be the voice of Vermonters. And I’m sorry that it was not enough this year.

At this point, we simply need more balance in Montpelier, and lawmakers who will put people and communities over party politics.

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