STATEMENT: MAJORITY LEADERSHIP CONTINUES TO REJECT PATHS TO AGREEMENT
Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott’s Communications Director Rebecca Kelley today issued the following statement:
“In a year where the state has $160 million more in revenue and a surplus that’s expected to grow this month, Governor Scott has been clear he will not sign a budget or tax bill that result in increased taxes, including statewide property tax rates.
“Over the last several weeks, the Governor and his Administration have put forward a comprehensive plan to fully fund school budgets, avoid an unnecessary property tax rate hike, keep property tax rates level for five years, and reinvest in improving the quality of our education system.
“While he continues to advocate for this plan, Governor Scott has also been open to alternatives that achieve these goals. Over the first three weeks of the Legislative special session – called to address this very issue – four options to bring us closer to agreement have been put forward, including:
- “The Beck Amendments” – Both amendments to the tax bill would achieve cost savings by altering the yield to closely connect property tax payers with implications of school budgets votes. It could be used as an alternative to cost containment measures proposed in the Governor’s five-year plan.
- “The Browning Amendment” – A bipartisan amendment to the budget offered by Rep. Cynthia Browning (D-Arlington) would ensure the budget met legislative leaders’ commitment to a budget that excludes all provisions related to property tax rates. (The budget currently does not meet that commitment). The Amendment also proposed paying off Act 46 merger incentives while holding statewide property tax rates level.
- “The McCoy Amendment” – An alternative to the Browning Amendment, which also would have ensured the current budget met legislative leaders’ commitment to a budget that excludes all provisions related to property tax rates.
- “The Minority Compromise” – A package of proposals from minority-party legislators, which would achieve cost containment and property tax reform through a variety of mechanisms, offering another path to achieving the goals of the Governor’s proposal.
“Every one of these proposals would help stabilize property tax rates and work towards an agreement between the Governor and the Legislature. Yet every single one of them has been roundly rejected by Legislative leadership and the majority party. Instead, they continue to move forward a budget that will result in a $23 million increase to statewide property tax rates if an agreement is not met by July 1.
“Majority leadership appears inflexibly committed to raising tax rates on Vermonters in a year we have a surplus – and multiple proposals – to avoid it, while also addressing long-term challenges to our education system. Their unwillingness to compromise or seriously consider any alternatives, and their complete lack of urgency surrounding this issue, are unnecessarily pushing the state closer to the July 1 budget deadline.
“Governor Scott remains committed to an agreement that ensures Vermonters don’t see a statewide property tax rate increase in a year we have a surplus and the Administration stands ready to pursue all avenues to achieve this goal at whatever point Legislative leaders are ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work on this issue.”
For more on the Governor’s plan and the Administration’s work during the special session, click here.