House Republicans uphold governor’s budget veto

MONTPELIER, Vt. — House lawmakers on Tuesday voted 90-51 on the governor’s second budget veto, falling short of an override and giving state leaders a week and a half to find an agreement or face a government shutdown.

House Minority Leader Rep. Don Turner, R-Milton, speaking from the House floor, said Republicans held together to prevent a tax increase.

Wikimedia Commons/Jared C. Benedict

OPEN LATE IN THE SEASON: For now, Gov. Scott’s veto of the budget bill stands as he continues to push for no new taxes or fees in Vermont.

“My vote prevents a default property tax increase on hardworking Vermonters,” he said. “My entire tenure at the legislature, Vermonters have been telling me that they can’t afford to pay higher property taxes.”

The GOP caucus had just 51 members on the floor for the day’s vote, so there was little room for deviation from party lines. In the end, the Democrat majority party fell three votes short of the two-thirds necessary for an override.

The governor and Republicans have maintained that any tax rate increase is unnecessary this year because Vermont has received $55 million in unexpected revenue. Scott issued a statement shortly after the vote.

“Vermonters elected me based on my vision to grow our economy, make Vermont more affordable and protect the most vulnerable,” he said. “This came with a clear commitment to fiscal responsibility that gives Vermonters a break from years of constant tax increases that contribute to the crisis of affordability many families and businesses face.

“The vote to sustain my veto of H.13 [the budget bill] today reflects a steadfast commitment from many in the Legislature to provide Vermonters with this relief after years of tax increases, and I thank them for their work.”

Rep. Brian Savage, R-Swanton, told True North there is already another proposal on the table from Republicans.

“We have put a proposal forward that would basically be the same bill, but it would remove provisions about defaulting back to the statutory rate on the taxes,” he said.

If budget bill H.13 had passed, it would have resulted in a default 5.5-cent rise in the non-residential property tax rate. Scott has made it a cornerstone of his campaign and governorship that there should be no new taxes or fees under his watch.

Nonetheless, Savage stressed that both sides are going to have to come back to the table.

“There has to be some serious negotiations, there has to be a coming together, and we are confident that can be done before … a government shutdown,” he said. “I think it can be done, and we are willing to suspend rules and do what needs to be done to put something forward.”

In addition to Turner, several lawmakers spoke on the floor to explain their vote.

Rep. Michael Yantachka, D-Charlotte, emphasized the shutdown threat.

“A government shutdown would be bad for Vermont and for Vermonters,” he said. “It is disconcerting to see that using this threat in place of good faith in negotiating and a willingness to compromise, and [to use] strategies that we see used in Washington D.C.”

Rep. Anne Donahue, R-Northfield, took issue with the stoking of fears over a potential government shutdown.

“Yelling fire in a crowded theater is not protected speech if there is no fire because people can get trampled and hurt,” she said. “There is no fire here if we address the underlying tax dispute instead of diverting the focus into a new debate on what the default tax rate should be if there’s no compromise reached by July 1.”

As the potential for a shutdown becomes greater, other state officials have begun weighing in.

“I can tell you, from the perspective of our agency and its four divisions, there are real consequences if there is not a budget in place to ensure the continuing operations of government services,” Secretary of State Jim Condos said in a statement. “I am certain that this is true across all facets of state government.”

Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman also released a statement expressing his frustration at the governor’s decision to veto the budget twice.

“It is normal for there to be disagreements between governors and the legislature, but this is the first time the governor hasn’t been present to negotiate,” Zuckerman wrote in his newsletter to constituents. “In an addition to the budget, the governor set a record by vetoing 13 bills this year.”

The Senate is meeting Thursday and the House is meeting on Friday, but it is not clear yet if either body will continue on the budget this week.

“We do have other smaller pieces of legislation that are still being discussed,” Savage said. “As far as a new budget being presented as we have proposed, I’m not sure when that’s going to be produced, but I’m sure we’re going to be back here several days next week.”

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

Images courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR and Wikimedia Commons/Jared C. Benedict

4 thoughts on “House Republicans uphold governor’s budget veto

  1. A major part of the state surplus was obtained by eliminating and limiting deductions and by shifting the tax base from federal taxable income to federal adjusted gross income (a much larger base).

    A lot more income taxes are being raised from higher income households (TAXING THE RICH), especially with those households selling stocks and paying capital gains taxes; so-called “PENNIES FROM HEAVEN” according to Margolis.

    I would call it “state-legalized-plundering” from the very households that:

    – Save and invest
    – Create jobs
    – Make the near-zero, real-growth Vermont economy grow.
    – Pay lots of taxes.

    The “pennies from heaven” money should be returned to the people as TAX REBATES, otherwise it would just be frittered away to fill various budget gaps, and implement Dem/Prog “priorities” for favored constituencies to get more votes.

    Shutting down the government would save about $150 million per month. Vermont could use THAT money to pay down debts.

    The voters of Vermont elected Scott by a landslide.

    His promise was no new taxes, fees and surcharges.

    He would be stupid to renege on that.
    Bush 1 promised no new taxes and reneged and did not get a second term.

    Whereas Scott’s promise is unacceptable to you, it is acceptable to the vast majority of voters, who will again re-elect him by a landslide.

    The current $1.7 b for education is a disgrace.
    It should be cut by about $500 million to be near the US average, to match the dismal Vermont education outcomes.

    The Dems/Progs seem not able to stop meddling in the education sector, and in the healthcare and energy sectors.

    The purpose is vote getting. Just as is Welch’s grandstanding at the border.

    The mantra of the Dem/Progs is: Spread the government benefits and reap the votes.

    All these shenanigans are reducing the standard of living of Vermonters.

    That is the main reason Vermont has such a low rate of economic growth, and why it is losing population, and why it is not attracting businesses into the state, and why so many businesses are leaving.

    The Dem/Progs know “government enterprise” (socialism), but they refuse to lift a finger tor the private sector, but milk it to the hilt to cripple it.

  2. Shutting down the government might be quite liberating. Be interested to see how this plays out.

  3. It would have been nice if True North explained that the democrats want to use the surplus to fund public employees (schoolteachers) unsustainable pensions, which taxpayers may have already baled out times before, who’s baling my losses in my PRIVATE pension or IRA, since I’m not a public employee, please stick to your guns and uphold this veto without compromise.

    • Yup, you’ve got it right. We wouldn’t be in this financial mess if Vermonts dems weren’t owned by the big public education monopoly. (Promised votes and campaign $$$)

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