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Vermont governor discusses upcoming legislative session and other issues during weekly briefing

Vermont Governor Phil Scott (file October 2023)
Pat Bradley
Vermont Governor Phil Scott (file October 2023)

Vermont Governor Phil Scott answered a number of questions about the upcoming legislative session after opening his weekly briefing today by proclaiming December “Rays of Kindness” month.

Scott, a Republican, recalled how people were unable to gather three years ago during the pandemic. At that time the state launched a “Vermont Lights the Way” campaign and ever has asked for nominations to recognize outstanding community members.

“Vermonters continue to show their commitment to community, willingness to serve and going the extra mile to help those in need. We see this in all kinds of acts, big and small. And I believe it’s important to highlight those deeds and the good people who make them happen. When it comes to the flood there have been so many that have come our way. The point is there’s no act too big or too small to put forward as a nomination. I signed a proclamation making December ‘Rays of Kindness’ month and we’ll be celebrating these acts.”

The Legislature returns to Montpelier for the second half of its biennium on January 3rd and Governor Scott was asked what his top priorities for the session will be.

“Top on the list for me is something that’s been top of our list for the last six, seven, maybe even eight years: housing. That’s certainly going to be front and center and I think it’s something that we share with the legislature. The flood recovery continues to be something we have to address and continue to do. And then the budget, which is going to be difficult this year. Obviously, the legislature has all the power now. They have the super-majority and I’ll make my best, best case for why we shouldn’t be raising taxes, why we can’t.”

Montpelier’s Post Office had to close after July flooding and temporary unheated and unpowered trailers were set up in a parking lot to service the community. But the postal service closed the temporary facilities in November and residents were told to travel to the Barre Post office. Scott expressed frustration that not even the Congressional delegation has gotten a response from the Postmaster General about their concerns.

“I don’t know what their long-range plan is. We reached out to them and offered to help in any way we could with some of the buildings we have. They weren’t interested in some of our solutions. I don’t know what to make of it to be honest with you. I mean this isn’t some small town that just lost a few post office boxes. This is our capital city. I mean they should be paying attention to this. But they don’t appear to be.”

Governor Scott has a ceremonial office in the Statehouse but conducts his daily work in offices in the adjacent Pavilion Building, which has been closed since the July flooding. He has been working out of temporary offices in Berlin and said he expects to return to his Montpelier office in January.