Scott signs contentious budget adjustment bill into law

Governor Scott discussed the BAA and took reporters questions at his weekly press conference today.

Vermont Business Magazine Governor Phil Scott announced action on the following bills, passed by the General Assembly. 

  • H.516, An act relating to approval of amendments to the charter of the City of Essex Junction
  • H.839, An act relating to fiscal year 2024 budget adjustments

 

When signing H. H.839 (which covers the current fiscal year that ends June 30), Governor Scott sent the following letter to the General Assemble:

Dear Legislators:

I have signed H.839, An act relating to fiscal year 2024 budget adjustments, because of important initiatives included, some of which are time sensitive. 

However, as I have said, I’m deeply concerned this bill exceeds my proposed budget adjustment by almost $15 million. As the House Appropriations Chair has said herself, this leaves a $15 million gap in the fiscal year 2025 budget.

With federal funds having dried up, and significant cost pressures just to maintain existing services and programs, we started this year with very little money available for new or expanded initiatives. So my budget prioritized this limited funding toward housing, public safety, flood recovery and human services pressures. The $15 million in added spending in the BAA puts these critical investments at risk.

For example, while I understand the desire to help communities impacted by July’s flood, I’m perplexed by the way you did it. By issuing it by way of a grant, FEMA could reduce the settlement amount provided to the town by the amount the State provided. This financial misstep could save FEMA $5.625 million and cost the State $6.25 million.

The fact is, with $15 million more spent in BAA, you will have to cut from other priorities, services and programs. As recently as yesterday, House Appropriations discussed cutting mental health and desperately needed housing investments; clawing back already-committed funding for weatherization and infrastructure projects; leaving federal money on the table by not funding state match; eliminating programs; and across the board agency and department reductions. 

Or, you’ll have to raise taxes. Following a year with a 20% increase in DMV fees, a $100 million payroll tax, and a looming property tax increase of more than $200 million, raising taxes to cover the gap you created would be an astounding – and reckless – burden on Vermonters who already faced a high cost of living here in Vermont.

As I have said many times, the Legislature must invest our dwindling surplus with discipline and clarity.  Vermonters cannot afford the Legislature’s appetite for spending – without first fixing the fundamentals that cause these cost pressures. 

Some of the initiatives you prioritized in the BAA may be worthy of consideration but spending $15 million more in the BAA without looking at our fiscal year 2025 funding constraints means we can't be sure we're making the best decisions with the limited resources available. For the FY25 budget, I hope we can work together and take a well-coordinated, strategic approach to support initiatives that have the most impact for the people we serve.

Sincerely

/s/

Philip B. Scott
Governor

To view a complete list of action on bills passed during the 2024 legislative session, click here.
 

Source: 3.13.2024. Governor | Montpelier | www.vermont.gov

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