At his weekly press conference, Gov. Phil Scott highlighted new economic opportunities for Vermont — and hurdles — that came from a recent visit with Quebec business leaders.
The administration had recently visited the Aero Montreal exhibition, after which the governor said a new aerospace company is interested in setting up operations in Vermont. However, he added that company leaders may seek to locate to a more tax-friendly state — even if that means traveling farther while still based in Quebec.
“They are looking to expand into the U.S. and they are looking at Oklahoma. And it’s because of the tax advantages in Oklahoma, and a lot of other advantages as well,” Scott said.
To get new aerospace companies to commit to Vermont, airports are going to need runway expansions, water/sewer infrastructure upgrades, and warehouse space in some cases. The governor said Vermont may not be able to take in all the opportunities that are now available.
“Some of the challenges, they are very aggressive,”Scott said. “They want to move quickly, they would like to have the warehouse space if they are going to move and they want to have it this year, and we just don’t have all the space that could accommodate some of them.”
Commitment to electric cars
The governor also talked about how he will support following California’s move to ban gas engine consumer car sales by 2035.
Currently, EVs start at least $27,000 with federal tax credits of up to $7,500 factored in. Elon Musk, the owner of Tesla and a pioneer in promoting the EV market, has warned that EVs could double the world’s demand for electricity.
The governor is, nonetheless, convinced that EVs in conjunction with other new technologies will be the future.
“Well again I’m a big proponent of electric vehicles; we’ve taken a number of steps in that area,” he said.
Scott expressed some reservations that it will be a smooth transition. In particular, he mentioned that major investments in grid upgrades are still necessary, that alternatives such as hydro-powered motor vehicles also need to be considered.
“I don’t agree that it’s going to be all EVs in the future by the way,” he said. “I think hydrogen still has some promise and we’ll see what happens in that regard.”
Governor speaks on childcare public investments
As federal assistance in childcare winds down back to pre-COVID era levels, the governor was asked by a reporter if he would commit to previous statements that childcare should not cost more than 10% for any Vermont family. He said it’s a policy goal but not a promise.
“I don’t believe that families can afford to spend more than that,” he said. “So we obviously have to work with the legislature on this and we have to find a source to fund. But something has to give because I’m not interested in raising another broad-based tax to do this.”
He reminded listeners that whenever the state commits to one initiative, there has to be a cost elsewhere.
“If you only have a certain amount of money to use for this regard, you have to prioritize,” he said. “And we may have to live without something else in order to accomplish this.”
No speed trap cameras for now
It’s been reported that there’s been excessive speeding, especially on the highways, with up to 60% of offenders driving at over 90 mph. A reporter asked if this means Vermont might experiment with cameras that can track speed, record license plates, send warnings, and even send tickets. The governor said it’s being looked into but not likely for the immediate future.
“I don’t think there is an appetite in the legislature to do this,” Scott said, adding that he has personally noticed an increase in speeding on highways.
“I’m out on the roads a lot now and traffic speeds have increased dramatically,” he said.