Governor Phil Scott Highlights Affordability Initiatives and Proposal to Realize Up to $26 Million in Savings
Brattleboro, Vt. – In an address to the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce Monday, Governor Phil Scott highlighted an opportunity for the state to realize up to $26 million in savings a year.
The federal Affordable Care Act signed by President Obama put high valued health plans at risk of a Cadillac tax. The Vermont Education Health Initiative (VEHI) is transitioning to new plans, which are projected to cost substantially less than existing plans and will not be subjected to the federal penalty.
Last month, the Governor introduced a policy proposal – developed through conversations with the Vermont School Boards Association and the Vermont Superintendents Association – to achieve tens of millions of dollars in savings through a statewide school employee health benefit where the state bargains with employee unions, maximizing the savings of these new plans.
This approach would save up to $26 million each year, benefiting taxpayers while ensuring school employees will not pay more for healthcare premiums or be exposed to higher out-of-pocket costs.
“When was the last time we had an opportunity to reduce education costs by millions of dollars, without asking employees to pay more or cutting services? Never in my lifetime,” said Gov. Scott in his speech before approximately 125 members of the Brattleboro community.
Highlighting the potential uses for the savings, Gov. Scott said, “We could return all of these savings to taxpayers, or invest in child care and early education, reduce the cost of college, or better manage our obligation to teachers’ retirement. What we can’t do is leave this savings on the table.”
The plan simplifies the bargaining process between school boards and school employees, freeing up time and energy to focus on other priorities, like afterschool opportunities and classroom innovation, while achieving parity in healthcare costs for school districts across Vermont.
“This is an incredible opportunity and I hope the Legislature will join me in supporting it. This approach is a win for taxpayers, school boards and school employees,” Gov. Scott added.
With a continued focus on affordability initiatives, Gov. Scott also touted his proposed $35 million housing bond. He discussed the need for affordable workforce housing to help attract and retain more young families and professionals to Vermont.
“Most across the political spectrum – whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, Progressive or Independent – agree with the need for more affordable housing,” he continued. “So, if we agree with the goal, there’s no reason we can’t get there.”