Guv OKs $7.17 billion budget, will decide next week on pot, Act 250 bills

By Guy Page

Gov. Phil Scott on Friday signed into law the $7.17 billion 2021 state budget, he said at his regularly scheduled press conference.

Responding to a question by WPTZ’s David Schneider, the governor also said this weekend he will mull over other approved legislation — including S.54, commercial cannabis — and will issue his decisions next week. The governor has until Wednesday to sign or veto S.54, an aide told Schneider.  Scott also characterized the Act 250 bill that passed the Legislature as “a shadow of its former self.”

The 2021 state budget avoids an income tax increase, despite a projected revenue deficit as high as $450 million. The Legislature leveraged one-time federal CARES funds wherever permitted. Also, better-than-expected state revenue reduced the expected deficit.

Controversial budget spending items include:

  • $5 million from the General Fund and the Tobacco Settlement Fund to pay $1,200 each to about 5,000 Vermonters not included in the one-time federal stimulus payments, including illegal workers. About a quarter of the payments will go to farm workers present illegally. Supporters argued that migrant farm workers are doing essential work and are entitled to stimulus payments, regardless of citizenship status. (This allocation prompted comments on social media, including this: “Why are illegal aliens a higher priority than Vermont children at risk? That’s who it’s being taken from.”)
  • $450,000 to implement H.688, the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA). See page 50 of this Sept. 17 Senate document allocating the sum for “full-time limited service positions (to bedetermined), costs associated with providing administrative, technical and legal support, per diems, hiring consultants and experts and other necessary costs andexpenses associated with implementation of H.688.” The GWSA creates an appointed 23-person Climate Council to plan and implement steep carbon emission reductions without needing approval from either the Legislature or the executive branch.
  • Aggressively funds public transportation funding and incentives for purchasing electric vehicles.

According to the website of the Vermont Legislature, the following bills passed both the Senate and the House but have not been enacted into law. Most, but not all, have been sent to the governor. Click on the bill number for more details.

H.99 trade in covered animal parts or products
H.954 miscellaneous tax provisions
H.952 approval of charter changes for City of Burlington, City of Barre
H.926 changes to Act 250
H.607 increasing the supply of nurses and primary care providers in Vermont
H.673 tree wardens
H.674 the definition of housesite for use value appraisals
H.611 the Older Vermonters Act
H.833 surface water diversions and financial surety requirements for holding tanks
H.934 renter rebate reform
S.187 transient occupancy for health care treatment and recovery
S.54 the regulation of cannabis
S.234 miscellaneous judiciary procedures
H.795 increasing hospital price transparency, hospital sustainability planning, provider sustainability and reimbursements, and regulators’ access to information
H.663 expanding access to contraceptives
H.962 the duration of temporary relief from abuse orders
S.220 professional regulation
H.880 Abenaki place names on State park signs
H.967 provision of child care at family child care homes during remote learning days
H.683 the protection of migratory birds
H.578 proof of financial responsibility
S.233 uniform licensing standards
S.337 energy efficiency entities and programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the thermal energy and transportation sectors

Vermont Daily polled readers for questions, and then asked Scott these two suggestions:

Can you tell us what discussions your administration had about saving Rutland County’s legendary Thomas Dairy?

Gov. Scott responded: “That was a bit of a surprise to me as well. I’m not sure how much we were having discussions in house. I’m not sure we were notified.” Agricultural Secretary Anson Tebbetts was not on the call to comment.

I know you are not the Secretary of State, but as chief executive, can you explain what will happen if a voter shows up at the polls in November and the town clerk informs the voter a ballot was mailed in his or her name, and the voter alleges he or she did not complete a ballot?

“I don’t know for sure. The Secretary of State has made it clear he is the expert in elections. I would defer to him,” Scott said.

Read more of Guy Page’s reports. Vermont Daily is sponsored by True North Media.

Image courtesy of Flickr/

4 thoughts on “Guv OKs $7.17 billion budget, will decide next week on pot, Act 250 bills

  1. I am always struck when listening to Governor Scott at one I can best describe as a fundamental Vermont sense of decency combined with intelligence and patience. We are extremely fortunate to have him as our Governor to counteract as much as possible the excessively liberal and often impractical legislative branch of our state government. Governor Scott’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has been stellar as shown in our best in the nation status.

    At the same time, our President has been admitted to Walter Reed Hospital to be treated for Covid-19. We should all hope and pray that Donald Trump has a speedy recovery. Unfortunately, the word hubris in President Trump’s handling of the pandemic seems most appropriate. Here is the definition: “Hubris comes from the ancient Greek and describes a personality quality of extreme or foolish pride or dangerous overconfidence often in combination with arrogance. Hubris and arrogance are related to the need for victory ( even if it doesn’t always mean winning) instead of reconciliation. Hubris is usually perceived as a characteristic of an individual rather than a group, although the group the offender belongs to may suffer collateral consequences from wrongful acts. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one’s own competence, accomplishments or capabilities”.

    • Perhaps the President, like many business owners I know and work with, chose to forge ahead with what he believes is an essential attitude. It seems like a wholly American trait to look at a situation, consider the risks, rewards and necessity of performing a certain job and deciding that the more dangerous path is so important that performing the job is necessary. I believe that he knows how much this lockdown is hurting the economy and the country and knows that it is important to be a leader who demonstrates that getting back to as “normal” as possible is extremely important. I also believe that the people around him absolutely know the risks involved and have continued to work with him because they believe in what they are doing.

  2. The $450,000 in the budget for GWSA is the worser of the two, because this monster is here to stay, unless we have an overwhelming number of common sense and good judgement folks elected to the Legislature this year and again in in two years. This is the the worst possible “gift” I could fathom to hand off to our children and grand children. The climate warriors view control of our lives in this advanced step and control and confiscation of our money as more important than thinking about our future generations’ well being. And in the process the petroleum business in Vermont will be headed for the same path Vermont Yankee went. Not a pretty sight. Then comes the big elephant, affordability. I have not seen one statistic that zeros on that item. That says more than any of the printed non-sense does.God help us in our time of need.

  3. Thank You True North Reports. I’ll zero in on this, but there is much more to comment on.

    If the 5 million is going to people who are essential workers…then they were working and don’t need the relief. If they are here illegally then now might be a good time to pack up and head home. America is struggling and can’t afford to help those who aren’t supposed to be here. It would be cheaper to buy them a plane ticket home then to give them the “free” money stollen from the pockets of Americans.

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