MONTPELIER, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott on Friday addressed Vermont legislators to mark their adjournment for the 2021 legislative session.
The governor thanked lawmakers for their work, noting the significance of what they have achieved during this once-in-a-century public health crisis.
The Scott Administration worked closely with the Legislature to pass historic investments, including $190 million for housing, $150 million for broadband and $50 million to mitigate climate change this year with intent language to ensure future investments in priority areas for the state’s recovery. These investments were funded through the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the State’s General Fund surplus and other federal funds.
The governor also highlighted critical investments in economic recovery and downtown development, which will help strengthen local economies and level the economic playing field from county to county – a top priority for his Administration. This includes tens of millions of dollars in economic recovery grants, downtown transportation projects, infrastructure improvements, and revitalization of old industrial sites, which are a barrier to economic growth for places like Springfield and St. Johnsbury.
A transcript of the Governor’s remarks to the Legislature can be found below:
Governor Scott: Let me start by saying I appreciate marking the close of your session in May this year. As I’m sure you remember, last year, I was giving this address at the end of September.
But I know this year, like the last, has been anything but normal. Still, the fact that you’re ending today is a very good sign that things are moving in the right direction.
When I spoke to you in January, I reflected on what we’d been through over the last year and the toll the pandemic had taken. At that moment in time, we were approaching what we now know was the peak of the pandemic.
And I think it is important to recognize what an incredible moment in history we’ve all been through.
I appreciate the efforts of each of you and every single Vermonter who helped us lead the nation in our response. From beginning to end, this has been a team effort.
Today, we are in a position to exit the pandemic with fewer lives lost than any other state in the Continental U.S., one of the lowest unemployment rates, a budget surplus and a truly transformative economic opportunity.
And today, we look forward to a future that is much brighter than we would have thought possible just 6, 12 or maybe even 24 months ago, pre-pandemic.
Our work together extended into the weeks and months you were out of session and will obviously continue as we move to the recovery phase. But I’m confident that what we’ve achieved together will have a positive, lasting and transformational benefit, especially for the communities and counties that – for several decades – have needed it most.
This includes historic investments in broadband, housing and downtown development to level the economic playing field from county to county. Landmark investments in climate action, funding to assist our small employers with recovery, and more.
And I can’t mention these investments without also recognizing our congressional delegation, Senator Leahy, Senator Sanders and Congressman Welch, for helping make sure we received the full benefit from the federal aid packages.
Now, I know we haven’t agreed on everything and I’m going to continue to pressure you to invest in these key areas, but the intent language included in the budget will help us stay on this transformative path and get the best return on investment from this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
With your help, commitment and shared vision, we can complete the economic revitalization of every county in the years to come with the investments we make.
Beyond the budget, with your leadership, alongside our Director of Racial Equity, the Racial Equity Task Force and a number of advocacy groups across the state, we have taken important steps to increase equity in healthcare, schools and more with H.210, H.428, S.16 and others. And we passed important initiatives to protect the vulnerable, including S.99 to repeal the statute of limitations on child abuse and the “Panic Defense Bill”, H.128.
We also worked together on important bills like S.88, an insurance bill that will help lower health care costs for Vermonters and H.171, the childcare bill that will further strengthen our system and help families and kids across the state.
In January, I asked that we work together, not just to get through the pandemic, but to face our long-standing challenges, head on.
Challenges like regional economic inequity, workforce shortages and the crisis of affordability for far too many families and businesses.
I said, “if we work together and put politics and partisan agendas aside, we can pass a budget that could truly transform the future and set us on a path that supports all Vermonters in every corner of our state.”
My friends, we’ve done that.
Vermonters are already better for it and we’ve once again shown America what can be achieved when elected leaders have the courage to put progress ahead of politics.
I want to thank the Speaker and the Pro Tem for their leadership, their candor during our frequent meetings and for always keeping their word. I also want to thank the minority and majority leaders, the committee chairs – Senator Kitchel and Rep. Hooper, in particular – and each and every one of you for working in good faith to seek consensus wherever possible.
As I said in my Inaugural Address, this year was an opportunity for us to rise above politics and gamesmanship. To rise above the difficulty of a global pandemic that’s taken thousands of lives and disrupted so much. To rise to the challenge and embrace the opportunities so we can solve problems, help people, and emerge stronger and more resilient than ever.
I’m very pleased to say – from my perspective – we’ve done it. And while there is always more work to do, I greatly appreciate – and I’m grateful for – most of the choices you’ve made, but all of your efforts.
Finally, I look forward to seeing you again in person, shaking your hands and catching up.
Thank you all and congratulations on a job well done.
For Immediate Release
Friday, May 21, 2021
Rebecca Kelley, Communications Director
Office of the Governor