Gov. Scott vetoes pension reform bill, despite likely override

On May 2, Governor Phil Scott returned without signature and vetoed S.286 and sent the following letter to the General Assembly:

May 2, 2022

The Honorable John Bloomer, Jr.
Secretary of the Senate
115 State House
Montpelier, VT 05633-5401
Dear Mr. Bloomer:

Pursuant to Chapter II, Section 11 of the Vermont Constitution, I am returning S.286, An act relating to amending various public pension and other postemployment benefits, without my signature because of my objections described herein.

Since the day after this bill was introduced, before it was voted out of a single committee, in either chamber of the General Assembly, I have been clear it does not include enough structural change to solve the enormous unfunded liability problems the State faces. I offered balanced solutions, which were disregarded.

It is unfortunate this veto will likely be easily overridden, not for me, but for Vermont taxpayers and State employees who will bear the burden in the future. I will acknowledge, this bill takes some positive steps, and the easiest thing for me to do would be to sign it, assure the public we solved the problem, and move on.

But given the scope of this problem and the risk it poses to the financial health of our state, I cannot bring myself to do that. It would be disingenuous because I know we could have done better.

The fact is, in several years – despite adding a quarter of a billion dollars in additional money (on top of the roughly $400 million for our regular, required payment) from taxpayers – the state will be faced with the same unsustainable system we have today.

I won’t be governor when those chickens come home to roost, and many of you will not be serving in your current roles, either. But the Legislature’s unwillingness to question the deal reached between a handful of union and legislative representatives will come back to haunt our state in the not-too-distant future.

And when it does, we won’t have the unprecedented level of federal funds and state surplus dollars at our disposal, and the fix will be tougher on both taxpayers and public employees.

Sincerely,

/s/

Philip B. Scott
Governor

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6 thoughts on “Gov. Scott vetoes pension reform bill, despite likely override

  1. The difference between a politician and a statesman is that the statesman is not afraid to tell people uncomfortable truths when there is no political advantage in doing so.
    Governor Scott in vetoing what is essentially a band-aid, kick the can down the road, effort that most everyone in the legislature is willing to sign off on, has shown himself to be a statesman.

  2. If only Governor Scott had articulated the specific pension issues needing reform in his reply, perhaps then Vermont taxpayers would contact their respective legislators to lobby for those specific changes… not that lobbying for them would change the intransigence of Senate Pro Tem Becca Balint and House Speaker Jill Krowinski, who, after all, represent the government and teacher unions, not the voters who elected them.

    But had the Governor been specific, at least Vermont taxpayers would better understand what’s being asked of them.

    What is the most important structural change required?

    Replacing the ‘defined benefits plan’ with a ‘defined contribution plan’ for starters. It’s one thing to guaranty that taxpayers will always contribute a certain amount to the employee’s pension funds, as the ‘defined contribution plan’ would do. It’s another entirely to guaranty a rate of return on the investment of those funds. No other investment manager, fiduciary or otherwise, can make such a guaranty.

    Why, then, are Vermont taxpayers being required to do so?

    Because they don’t understand the issue.

    • Jay,

      In an ongoing effort to educate the public on the pension crisis, Governor Scott had David Coates, retiring managerial partner of the Burlington office of KPMG, a global network of professional firms providing audit, tax and advisory services, speak at one of his weekly press conferences in April. Coates, who has studied the pension issue in Vermont for years, articulated the specific pension issues needing reform and why this deal struck between unions and Democratic legislators does not solve the shortfall.

      The problem, as with all issues that require sacrifice and real change, is that politicians and many people would rather avoid that face head what needs to be done.

  3. The Governor’s statement “…the Legislature’s unwillingness to question the deal reached between a handful of union and legislative representatives will come back to haunt our state in the not-too-distant future.” pretty much sums up the problem in Montpelier. Extreme top down, partisan positioning and little, if any independent thinking. We need to get rid of the mindless Dem-Prog drones. We are being haunted every day by their thoughtless “unity”.

  4. Forward looking governance with personal responsibility for past actions.
    How could that possibly ever work.

    Is that like critical thinking?

    • Yirgach,

      Super-critical-whatever-theory?

      Anything, to create chaos, and distract from reality.
      November 2022 will come soon, however Dem/Progs in Vermont take no risks.

      They have election laws on their side:

      1) universal mail out of ballots
      2) universal harvesting/trafficking of ballots
      3) Town Clerks legally forbidden TO ASK FOR ANY ID.

      AFTER YOU SIGH AN AFFIDAVIT YOU ARE JOE DOE, YOU GET REGISTERED

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