Governor Scott Delivers First Budget Address
Presents balanced budget that makes key investments in economic development, education, housing and clean water
Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott on Tuesday presented his proposed budget in a joint assembly of the legislature at the Vermont State House. The Governor invited lawmakers and advocates to work with him on bold solutions to our state’s toughest challenges.
Gov. Scott presented a balanced budget without increasing taxes or fees or cutting programs for Vermonters in need, following through on commitments he made during the campaign. His budget makes strategic investments in education, which have long-term benefits in areas like health care and human services, and – more importantly – Vermont children. Furthermore, they reflect the Governor’s commitment to move toward an early care through college education system – cradle to career – that is the best in the country, and will attract working families to Vermont.
The Governor also proposed strategic investments in workforce training and retraining, economic development marketing and water quality, as well as a $35 million housing bond. It restores the research and development tax credit, and increases the downtown and village tax credit to support more “maker” and “co-working” spaces across the state to support the creation of new businesses.
The Governor’s proposed budget for the 2018 fiscal year, level-funds the state’s base appropriations at the fiscal year 2017 post-rescission level, which eliminates the need for higher taxes or fees. In addition, it recommends policy changes in the education fund, moving the state’s contribution for higher education, teachers’ normal retirement liability, and retired teachers’ health care to the education fund. It asks school districts to fund their school budgets at fiscal year 2017 levels and for public employee parity of 20 percent for health care premium cost-sharing. The impact is net neutral to both the general and education funds. The Governor’s budget also makes investments in child care subsidies, Pre-K, and pilot projects to identify the best ways to deliver affordable, high-quality child care and early learning.
Gov. Scott’s budget creates savings in the Agency of Human Services by closing the Windsor prison, moving to direct enrollment for all non-Medicaid consumers on Vermont Health Connect, reducing Disproportionate Share payments to hospitals, and increasing vacancy savings within the agency. These savings will be re-invested to support the Governor’s commitment to combat the opiate epidemic. Finally, the caseload savings in the state’s Medicaid budget will be put into reserves to protect against any potential policy changes at the federal level.
Gov. Scott concluded his address by reiterating, “for our economic security, we need to clear the way to get our economy moving and growing again. We have an opportunity to achieve great things. But only if we are unafraid of change, and willing to make difficult choices. We must be bold, because that’s the right thing to do for all Vermonters.”