Vermont governor: State revenues offer path to budget fix
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont Republican Gov. Phil Scott said there are enough state revenues this year so his office and the Democratic-led Legislature can reach an agreement on a state budget he would be willing to sign.
If the governor and the lawmakers can reach an agreement it would end a standoff that led to his veto last month of the state budget and could prompt him to veto a second, replacement budget passed by lawmakers last week.
Speaking Tuesday after he got a briefing on the excess state revenues generated in large part by changes in federal tax law, Scott said the extra cash, at least just under $64 million in unanticipated revenues, could enable lawmakers to pass a budget that didn’t allow for a small increase in nonresidential property tax rates and help pay down the long-term teacher retirement debt as lawmakers have preferred.
“I believe we can come to agreement because we have enough cash to settle both initiatives,” Scott said.
Scott had invited Democratic leaders to attend a meeting Tuesday of the state Emergency Board, which makes revenue estimates on behalf of state government after consulting with economists. But the lawmakers who help make up the board declined to attend because they said they agreed with the budget estimates released last week.
So Scott used the opportunity to hear about the state budget.
Last month Scott vetoed the state budget in the dispute over property taxes and debt. Last week the Legislature passed a second budget, which Democratic leaders said they hoped Scott would sign so the two sides could resolve the relatively small differences between the two positions.
Scott said he hasn’t decided yet whether to veto the second budget.