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Vermont’s Republican governor cautions legislature to rein in spending

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

During his regular media briefing today, Vermont Governor Phil Scott again encouraged the state Legislature to practice fiscal restraint, warning that initiatives being added to bills are too costly for Vermonters.

Vermont’s Republican governor noted that he had outlined the state’s priorities in January, including public safety, housing and affordability. He cautioned that legislators and advocates must face a different fiscal reality than they have been accustomed to.

“We have to be realistic which means we have to prioritize,” Scott said. “ Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear we’re all on the same page here in this building. That’s not unusual but it’s prevalent today. Many committees are talking about new initiatives, adding a few million here and quite a few million there, without a plan for what they’re going to cut or what new taxes they’ll force on Vermonters to pay. This year, more than ever, we have to live within our means and work to drive down costs for Vermonters.”

Scott chided the Democrat-dominated House and Senate over previous legislation passed over his vetoes that have increased license and registration fees 20 percent and implemented a $100 million payroll tax increase. In addition, he noted that the Joint Fiscal Office has estimated that a renewable energy bill under consideration would cost state residents $1 billion over the next decade.

“And this is a difficult pill to swallow because our Department of Public Service developed a less expensive plan that still achieves our environmental goals.”

Public Service Department Director of Regulated Utility Planning TJ Poor said the administration’s plan came out of an 18-month stakeholder engagement process.

“Vermonter’s priorities were number one, affordability, also emissions, also reliability and community access to solar,” reported Poor. “And the Public Service Department’s proposal really best balances those objectives where we get to zero emissions from the electric sector by 2030. That’s faster than what H.289, the Renewable Energy Standard proposal, is. And the department’s proposal is a more gradual pace of deployment that doesn’t impose the risk of such high costs to Vermonters.”

On January 19th, in advance of the New Hampshire primary, Phil Scott endorsed Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley. Scott plans to attend a rally with Haley in South Burlington this Sunday – two days before Vermont’s presidential primary.

“I said early on that I’ll do anything I can to prevent former President Trump to receive the nomination,” asserted Scott. “I look for candidates that can actually govern rather than resort to, you know, other methods that are just unhealthy for our democracy. So I will be advocating for people to go on Sunday. But I also will be advocating for those independents and maybe right-leaning Democrats or anyone who would pick up a ballot to cast their vote. That would be helpful to at least send a message that we’re tired of this.”

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