Governor ‘not going to increase taxes now,’ which may affect universal school meals

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NO NEW TAXES: Gov. Phil Scott on Tuesday said he will not approve new taxes for now. That could stall out various bills that require a new, ongoing revenue source from Vermonters already burdened by runaway inflation.

While taking questions from reporters during his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Gov. Phil Scott suggested that an abundance of federal funds in Vermont means “we’re not going to increase taxes now” — which could have implications for bills that require ongoing revenue sources.

One such bill making its way through the Statehouse is the universal school breakfast program. S.100, which passed the Senate, would require all Vermont schools to provide free breakfasts. It also establishes a Task Force on Universal School Lunch to seek ways to expand coverage by 2026-27. The Joint Fiscal Office estimates the annual cost of the program at between $6 million and $10 million, which would burden the Education Fund.

However, Scott’s statement about taxes could mean the bill won’t have the support necessary for passage.

“In this time of unprecedented budget surpluses, this is the last resort,” he said. “I mean, we’re not going to increase taxes now, that makes no sense to me at all — not at this point. … I think most Vermonters would not understand that at all.”

“Again, we’ve had two years of budget surpluses, and we’re in upgrade for the allocation for next year in terms of the money that we are going to spend, and a budget surplus in the [education] fund,” he said.

Keeping eye on COVID

Also during the press conference, Vermont Epidemiologist Dr. Patsy Kelso responded to concerns about higher Covid-19 case counts in the state. Vermont has the second highest case rates in the nation, as the new BA.2 variant spreads across New England.

Kelso said cases are being monitored, but keeping track of who is getting sick enough to go to the hospital is a better metric.

“The number of at-home tests that are reported to the department has picked up — two weeks ago it was 247 positive, last week 421, and this week 516,” she said. “So it reflects what I think we are seeing through other data, which is that COVID is still around, the risk is not zero, and yet while we are seeing perhaps an uptick in cases we’re not seeing the same thing with hospitalizations.”

Kelso added she is “hopeful” the state won’t see a dramatic surge “and won’t see an increase in hospitalizations to the point that it strains the health care system.”

Scott noted that the uncertainty and panic surrounding COVID originally has moderated as time has gone by and people have access to vaccines.

“Right now I think cases in the U.S. are flat. I don’t see the need [for another COVID shot], I’m pretty well protected for right now,” he said. “And if I did happen to get COVID, it’s fairly mild from what I’ve seen thus far. So I probably will wait a bit.”

He also said businesses need to continue to recover from the lockdowns, and noted his proposed $100 million package “to help support our communities, spur growth, and make sure that employers who were harmed during the pandemic can stay on their feet and support their employees.”

Can Scott define what a woman is?

Taking a cue from a question that puzzled nominee for the Supreme Court Ketanji Brown Jackson on the second day of her confirmation hearings, reporter Guy Page of the Vermont Daily Chronicle put the same question to Gov. Phil Scott.

“How would you answer the question ‘What is a woman?'”

Taken by surprise, Scott answered: “Are you saying that during these times not everyone wants to designate as a male or a female? … Well I think anyone who’s on the Vermont Commission on Women, I just assume that they refer to them as she or her, so I think we’re OK there. But maybe that needs some consideration in the future. I just don’t know. I haven’t contemplated that.”

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at bielawski82@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

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13 thoughts on “Governor ‘not going to increase taxes now,’ which may affect universal school meals

  1. Just once I’d like to hear “We’re not raising taxes but looking to cut spending” Gee, what a novel idea!

  2. Since first taking office, Governor Scott has made it a point to oppose new taxes being levied by the legislature. His proposed budget this year included giving back to taxpayers half the surplus in the Education Fund and eliminating income taxes of veteran’s pensions. Scott was astounded that at this time with so much federal money coming into the state anyone would consider raising taxes.

    Governor Scott has vetoed more legislation than any governor in the history of Vermont. What is needed now is to elect a net gain of 5 Republicans in the House to guarantee the sustaining of his vetoes. This would change the current continued practice of having more impractical, damaging and costly legislation coming down the pike.

    • John,

      With universal, unrequested mail out of ballots to everyone on the voter lists and universal harvesting of tens of thousands of these ballots, there is no way any DemProg can be voted out of office, plus the Dem/Progs doing the counting until they have securely won, there is no way for any Republican challenger to get elected.

      Vermont voters are sooooo scr..ed

      • Willem,
        Not true. Republicans Leland and Michael Morgan of Grand Isle are the prime example in winning the two-member District and eliminating the then Speaker of the House Mitzy Johnson. If the most powerful Democratic House member can lose her seat, it is certainly possible to flip a net of five seats.
        Of course, it too a great deal of hard work but it was and can be done.

  3. Vermonters are so overtaxed right now, it would be economically prudent not to increase any tax, fee, or surcharge for the next FIVE YEARS

  4. Not going to raise taxes – now!?

    The State just received more than $10 Billion in Federal government handouts. That’s almost twice Vermont’s annual budget, above and beyond what the State receives in normal tax revenue. All tallied, that’s more than $20 Billion over the last two years… more than $30,000 for every man, woman, child, and other person in the State. Thirty Grand per person!

    Never mind the subsidies for Covid cases provided to healthcare cronies. Or the $5000 grant my little town of Westminster received in Zucker-bucs (about $2 per registered voter).

    And the Governor is contemplating raising taxes – later!?

    A billion here, a billion there. Pretty soon we’re talking about real money. Not.

    Cash is becoming ‘more and more’ worthless by the second.

    At least its ‘more and more’. That sounds better. Ignore the term ‘worthless’. That’s the way the government presents its economic theory.

  5. If we’re having budget surpluses then we are being Taxed too much, plain and
    simple… On the what a women is is simple biology no contemplation needed Gov… There’s a male
    and a female anything else is a mental disorder….or for the left gender confusion…

  6. Way to go Guy.

    Didn’t answer the question did he?

    He’s the second most terrified person after the public school biology teacher. Too funny, like its a trick question, lol. We’ve entered the twilight zone.

    Do,we have this on film? This is great question to ask all our public officials.

    • Hey Guy. I’ve got another question you could ask.

      What type of government do we have? And here’s the kicker, Why?

      Or for 10 points extra credit, compare and contrast a republic and democracy.

      Or 20 extra points, can you find any mention of the d word in any of the founding federal and/ or state documents of every state, and why?

      It should be pass fail. If they fail, immediate removal from office.

    • Woman: an adult female human. (i.e., a human with two X chromosomes)

      “Typically, biologically female individuals have two X chromosomes (XX) while those who are biologically male have one X and one Y chromosome (XY). However, there are exceptions to this rule.

      Biologically female people inherit an X chromosome from their father, and the other X chromosome from their mother. Biologically male people always inherit their X chromosome from their mother.

      The X chromosome is about three times larger than the Y chromosome, containing about 900 genes, while the Y chromosome has about 55 genes.

      Female mammals have two X chromosomes in every cell. However, one of the X chromosomes is inactivated. Such inactivation stops transcription from occurring, hence making sure a potentially toxic double dose of X-linked genes does not occur.

      An inactivated X chromosome gets condensed into a small, dense structure in the nucleus, and is called a Barr body. Barr bodies are commonly used to determine sex.

      Changes in the structure or number of X chromosomes can lead to a number of diseases. For example, trisomy X syndrome is caused by the presence of three X chromosomes instead of two. Turner syndrome occurs when women inherit only one copy of the X chromosome.

      An inactivated X chromosome gets condensed into a small, dense structure in the nucleus, and is called a Barr body. Barr bodies are commonly used to determine sex.

      Changes in the structure or number of X chromosomes can lead to a number of diseases. For example, trisomy X syndrome is caused by the presence of three X chromosomes instead of two. Turner syndrome occurs when women inherit only one copy of the X chromosome.”

      And then there’s the human Idiot: A person who is considered foolish or stupid…. (i.e., a person who doesn’t know what a ‘woman’ is)

      • I am not a BIOLOGIST, so when I meet what looks like a woman, walks like a woman, talks like a woman, I will assume it is a WOMAN.
        Yeah.
        Problem solved

  7. Seeking clarification:
    Is it $6 to $10 million or an additional $6 to $10 million from JFO? Other reports indicate that the total cost would be closer to $24 to $50 million to bring free school meals to everyone (see source below). Why would the discrepency between the two sources be so large?

    Source: member of VT House Education Committee
    “…total cost of this program could cost between $24 and $50 million a year.” Tax on candy, excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages, and a tax on cloud-based software would increase to cover this expansion. Current VT Budget $8.1 Billion, largest in “state’s history.”

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