Montpelier, Vt. – At his weekly press conference today, Governor Phil Scott addressed areas of agreement with the Legislature and paths forward to responsibly achieve common goals.
A transcript of opening remarks from Governor Scott can be found below, and you can watch the full press conference by clicking here.
Good afternoon and thanks for being here.
As you know, over the last few weeks I’ve been pretty critical of the direction the Legislature seems to be heading.
And to be clear, I’m still very concerned with the budget in particular, as well as other initiatives with big price tags, even though I’ve proposed a path to achieving those goals over time without hurting the very people we’re trying to help.
But today I want to point out a few areas where we agree, which hasn’t gotten as much attention.
Because as I’ve said, we typically agree more than some would think. And when we don’t, it’s usually over “how” and what pace we’re on to get there.
You’ve heard me talk about workforce development for over six years, and the need to grow our workforce given our demographic challenges.
The budget I proposed in January focused on those challenges, and the House agreed with much of what we proposed, and then added a few ideas of their own.
For example, they included money I proposed for refugee resettlement, helping those seeking a new life in our state, transition into the workforce.
They’ve supported millions for the Vermont Training Program to help workers move up and upskill Vermont, which will help those wanting to attain professional certifications with free courses.
And they fully funded our VSAC trade scholarship program which will help put folks on a path to get the skills they need for the jobs we need.
Now, what they didn’t include were my initiatives to make Vermont more affordable, but we’ll save that for another day because today I want to highlight our areas of agreement.
I also want to thank the Senate for working with my team on the public safety and school safety packages.
And while we haven’t gotten everything we asked for, I appreciate their willingness to work with us to find solutions.
I believe public safety is a shared priority with legislators, and we’ve made progress.
The Senate has also worked with us on the forensic bills, helping advance initiatives and stabilize our system of care.
And I appreciate the House for also supporting our mental health initiatives – including funding for mobile crisis response and mental health urgent care services – programs our communities want and are in desperate need of.
I also want to take a minute, once again, to thank the Senate Economic Development Committee for their work on S.100.
We were supportive of the bill as it came out of Committee, and although I’m concerned that most of the Act 250 provisions have been watered down, it still gives us a strong foundation to work from in the House where we hope to restore those provisions.
And the fact is, we have to.
Many legislators ran campaigns based on solving the housing crisis, and Vermonters should know Act 250 reform is necessary to do so.
As I’ve said, if the Legislature fails to act, then they aren’t serious about making real progress on housing.
These are just a few examples of where we’ve found common ground this session, and I’m hopeful we can continue working together to find consensus.
I know there are times when we’re just not going to agree, especially when it comes to adding more taxes and fees.
And I also know some in the majority party want to frame the debates we’re having on childcare, paid family leave, climate action and others as “we’re for it and the Governor is against it.”
But that’s simply not the case. And I get it, it makes political messaging a little more complicated when we agree on the goals.
But there is a path forward.
And for the record, I’m a willing partner, which is why so many of my proposals began with trying to meet the Legislature where they are.
I firmly believe we can achieve universal access to paid family and medical leave. We can make historic investments in childcare, helping thousands more families access affordable options. We can act on mitigating climate change. We can create housing for homeless Vermonters. We can expand treatment and prevention for opioid addiction and mental health needs. And we can do all of it in a way that doesn’t increase costs on already overburdened and overtaxed Vermonters, and without setting us up for serious and very real fiscal problems in the future.
I truly believe we can get the outcomes we all want if we work at it.