Vermont GOP governor proposes $8.6 billion budget, urges lawmakers to avoid tax increase

  • Republican Vermont Gov. Phil Scott has proposed an $8.6 billion budget for fiscal year 2025.
  • Scott urged lawmakers not to raise taxes or fees for Vermont residents, saying it will be a tough budget year.
  • In 2023, Scott vetoed the $8.5 billion budget, but the Democratic-controlled legislature overrode his veto.

Republican Vermont Gov. Phil Scott on Tuesday proposed an $8.6 billion budget for fiscal year 2025 and, as he has done before, urged lawmakers not to raise taxes or fees for Vermonters, saying it will be a tough budget year.

The budget proposal makes investments in the priorities the governor focused on earlier this month in his state-of-the-state address: affordability, public safety and housing.

“I also understand the realities of a supermajority, which means you don’t have to listen, or even consider, my priorities or objections,” he told lawmakers assembled in the House chamber for his budget address. “But I bet many of you do hear, and maybe even share, some of my concerns. More importantly, I’m pretty sure the majority of our constituents certainly do.”

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Scott urged lawmakers to work with the administration to fix, not just fund, the problems.

Republican Vermont Gov. Phil Scott walks out the House chamber of the Statehouse after giving his budget address to the Legislature on Jan. 23, 2024, in Montpelier, VT. Scott proposed an $8.6 billion budget for fiscal year 2025 and has urged lawmakers not to raise taxes or fees. (AP Photo/Lisa Rathke)

Last year, Scott vetoed the $8.5 billion budget bill that was largest spending plan in state history. But the Democratic-controlled legislature overrode his veto.

He said Tuesday that he doesn’t believe there will be a lot of disagreement about what is in his budget plan but likely in what is not included. Federal pandemic-era funds have ended, and the state has returned to pre-pandemic spending levels, he warned. While the state had a recent increase in revenues, it has had unexpected costs, too, he said.,

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House Speaker Jill Krowinski, a Democrat, said Vermont has challenges, but it also has opportunities. “I think his speech was long on fear and short on hope,” she told WCAX-TV.

Among the investments are $4.9 million of the opioid settlement funds to increase the amount of staff and hours in three or more hubs for drug treatment and to support the work of re-entry and recovery centers for those leaving incarceration, according to the budget summary. He also suggests investing $1.7 million for 20 mental health workers in state police barracks and $6 million in a program that provides grants to improve vacant rental housing units and add housing units to existing buildings.

After catastrophic flooding hit Vermont in July, Scott proposes using $12.5 million to help communities with their state match requirements for Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance to mitigate flood hazards and $500,000 for a state match for federal funding to evaluate future flood measures for the Winooski River.

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