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Budget Requires Bold Investments to Meet Needs


Governor Phil Scott delivered a budget address to a joint session at the Vermont State House in Montpelier on Friday, in which he proposed an $8.4 billion spending plan.

During the course of the 45-minute-long budget address, Scott proposed tax relief for Vermonters, expanded dental care in rural areas and placed an emphasis on improving the state's aging housing stock.

“This is undoubtedly the most significant budget I have presented in my time as governor,” said Scott.

For this budget, the governor is focusing on spending surpluses rather than digging deeper into Vermonters’ pockets.

“We’ve taken a lot of time to make sure this budget is investing, rather than spending, in areas that will put us in a much stronger economic and fiscal position to generate more dollars in the future,” said Scott.

In the governor’s seventh budget address, Scott is looking to put the state’s money into childcare and affordable housing reform.

“This budget makes an additional and ongoing commitment of $56 million, for a total of nearly $120 million a year, to expand access to and affordability of childcare,” said Scott.

His budget also invests over $80 million into the state housing programs. But even with additional investments into some of Vermont’s most crucial areas, some lawmakers feel it still isn’t enough.

“He still wants to do incremental investments towards big crises and big policy questions in front of us right now, versus bolder innovative investments that would actually take a much larger step forward,” said Rep. Emma Mulvaney-Stanak, the Progressive party house caucus leader.

Another focus of the Scott administration is to not increase the base budget or overspend on programs that will be hard to fund when federal stimulus dollars inevitably dry up.

However, some top Democrats disagreed.

“When we return to slightly more normal times, when some of that federal funding goes down, we’re actually still going to have a much higher revenue curve then we had before,” said Rep. Emilie Kornheiser, a Democrat and chair of the Committee on Ways and Means. “We’re going to be starting at a new base, a higher base.”

At the end of the day, House speaker Jill Krowinski said that Democrats and the governor share many of the same goals. The real struggle is in communication and finding common ground that appeases all parties.

Scott also talked about expanding child care and more generous childcare subsidies but did not propose any new taxes, something Democrats are expected to favor.

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