Vermont’s five constitutional officers were sworn into office for the 2019-2020 biennium Thursday afternoon. After taking the oath, Republican Governor Phil Scott delivered an inaugural address outlining his priorities for his second term.
The new biennium in Montpelier followed tradition and pomp as legislators and state officers were sworn in this week. Members of Vermont’s House and Senate were sworn in on Wednesday.
Thursday, the chief Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court delivered the oath of office to the governor. “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of Governor.”
Vermont Chief Justice Paul Reiber: “for the state of Vermont.”
Scott: “for the state of Vermont. I do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the state of Vermont and the Constitution of the United States.”
Reiber: “So help me God.”
Scott: “So help me God.”
Scott: “Thank you very much.”
Governor Scott then swore in the remaining constitutional officers: the State Auditor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Attorney General.
Governor Scott then remained on the dais to deliver his inaugural address. But there was a brief interruption before he could begin as a man yelled and threw money from the balcony before being escorted out. “Without clean water and clean air, jobs and the economy don’t mean squat.”
Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman: “The Chamber will please come to order.”
The last biennium was fraught with tension between the executive and legislative with an extended special session that led to the governor allowing the budget to go into effect without his signature.
On Thursday afternoon he called on the Legislature to work across the aisle for the good of Vermonters. “The courage to show a better path. Today more than ever it’s who America needs us to be. And to meet the challenges ahead to best serve Vermonters it’s who we have to be.”
Scott’s address outlined familiar issues including the state’s stagnant population and the need to recruit new residents. “Our stagnant population is threatening every service we deliver, every program we administer and every investment we hope to make. Without a different approach or a major change in circumstances our current revenues won’t support our obligations, our wants or even our needs. On the campaign trail a Burlington business owner told me we don’t need more taxes, we need more taxpayers.”
Scott pressed for reforms to the state education system and cautioned legislators to keep the state affordable. “Collectively we have a lot of good ideas so let’s act on them together. Let’s support policies and make investments that will work without digging further into the pockets of Vermonters. Because to build the future that we want for our kids and their kids we must ensure Vermont’s affordable.”
Scott called for all sides to put aside differences and work together, something Democratic House Speaker Mitzi Johnson also said during her opening speech on Wednesday. “I hope you will join me this session to embrace civility, inclusivity, and respect. We have an incredible opportunity in the next two years and I am asking each of you to ensure that all dissenting voices are heard and that we are working together.”