Vermont Governor Phil Scott delivered his third inaugural address Thursday. Because of the pandemic he held an evening telecast with no audience rather than delivering it to an afternoon joint session of the Legislature.
On Wednesday evening, Vermont’s Republican Governor was among the first to call for President Donald Trump to resign in the wake of the mob violence at the U.S. Capitol. Scott began his inaugural address reflecting on the attack. “The past year has been tough on all of us. We’ve faced a global pandemic. We’ve confronted racial injustice in America. We’ve seen the worst of our politics and from our politicians. There is no greater example than the rioters at the U.S. Capitol. It was a shocking attack on our democracy and make no mistake: President Trump is responsible for fanning these flames. All this comes at a time when our country feels more polarized, more divided, than I can ever remember. But in Vermont and across the country, voters came out in record numbers and sent a clear message calling for moderation and unity and for leaders to treat everyone with dignity and respect.”
Scott focused on the impact of the pandemic. He acknowledged and thanked Vermonters for stepping up to slow the spread of the virus, yet cautioned that everyone must remain vigilant. He said before COIVD -19 the state had record low unemployment and was on track to have the largest budget surplus in the state’s history. He says the pandemic has put the spotlight on fundamental challenges. “We see the difference in quality that exists from school to school and region to region. We see the real economic inequity from county to county. And with all of this, we see the urgency to build a more diverse and resilient economy.”
Scott says the state must provide greater support for small businesses as they struggle through the pandemic and outlined regulatory changes that he says will help localities and businesses. “One of those tools: Tax Increment Financing. Right now TIFs are only available to our larger cities. But if lawmakers will work with us, we can make this available to smaller towns in every region. I’ll also propose we modernize Act 250 making it easier to revitalize downtowns and village centers.”
The governor touched on the need to make health care more affordable and is also pleased that president-elect Joseph Biden supports reopening the nation’s schools within the first 100 days of his administration. Scott says Vermont can lead the way. “I’ve asked the Agency of Education, the Department of Health to develop a plan to safely get every child in every district back into the classroom full-time before the end of the school year, hopefully sometime in April.”
Standing inside the Statehouse, House Speaker Democrat Jill Krowinski offered a response to the governor’s address. “As we come together to rebuild our economy we need to address fundamental infrastructure issues like access to reliable high speed internet, housing that people can actually afford, child care that is accessible to working families. Not only do these polices help the economic wellbeing of families but they also help our small businesses. I can tell you that this work is not going to be easy but it is possible. We will work together. And I know that the Governor, the Senate President and all legislators share my passion for building a better and stronger Vermont.”
Governor Scott will give his budget address in two weeks, outlining more specific policy proposals.
Audio is courtesy of the pool feed provided by WCAX-TV.