Scott vetoes Vermont pension bill; Senate unanimous in veto override

By Brent Addleman | The Center Square

A bill containing public pension and other post-employment benefits has been vetoed, Gov. Phil Scott said.

The governor wrote in a letter to John Bloomer, secretary of the Senate, that he has returned Senate Bill 286 without his signature citing his objections to the bill. The third-term Republican governor says it does not contain enough structural change to the system “to solve the enormous unfunded liability” issues the state currently faces.

According to the fiscal note attached to the bill, the fiscal year 2022 budget contains a one-time general fund appropriation of $200 million in order to pay down unfunded liabilities, which includes $75 million to the Vermont State Employees’ Retirement System and $125 million to the Vermont State Teachers’ Retirement System.

The bill also encompasses a $13.3 million one-time Education Fund appropriation for the Retired Teachers’ Health and Medical benefits Fund.

Scott wrote in the letter that since the bill was introduced he has offered balanced solutions to offset the pension liabilities and concerns which the governor claims were disregarded.

“It is unfortunate this veto will likely be easily overridden, not for me, but for Vermont taxpayers and State employees who will bear the burden in the future,” Scott wrote in the letter. “I will acknowledge, this bill takes some positive steps, and the easiest thing for me to do would be to sign it, assure the public we solved the problem, and move on.”

Scott said he could not sign the bill as “the risk it poses to the financial health of the state” would be disingenuous. He said the state can do better to fund the items contained in the bill.

On Wednesday, the Senate overrode the veto 30-0, sending the bill to the House for consideration. Senate President Becca Balint, D-Brattleboro, said “not a single member of any party” including the governor’s “voted against the bill.” Democrats have majorities in both chambers.

“When I make a promise, you can count on it,” Balint tweeted. “I just led the Senate in a unanimous vote to override the veto of the public employee pension bill. We will not abandon teachers, state troopers, and thousands of public employees. We stand with workers.”

Balint also tweeted that “not a single member of any party” including the governor’s own voted against the bill.

Scott wrote in his letter that despite “adding a quarter of a billion dollars in additional money” from taxpayers, the state will continue to face an unsustainable system in the future.

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6 thoughts on “Scott vetoes Vermont pension bill; Senate unanimous in veto override

  1. The saddest thing is this….the Union penisons…Sate… Teachers and Municipal workers….They make up about 4% of VT’s population….yet they are perfectly happy to sadlle their comfy living and benefits, upon the other 96% of lesser Vermonters….it is a classic ‘Let Them Eat Cake” attitude. if bond and stock markets do not steady out (losing more money in pension assets currently)…the forward pension deficit will soon be over $5 biillion. WHO will be able to pay that? VT has about 835,000 people? And 45% are over 65 or under 19? All unions have an enforceable contract that they get paid first. Worse? States are not allowed to declare bankruptcy….but CITIES can. VT got billions in Federal aid last few years. WHERE did it go? To “feel good” social issues…and of course Climate Change. Yet, no matter WHAT they spend on climate change – they will never be able to supercede Mother Nature. I doubt all these wasted precious funds would ever be able to sway VT’s heat temps down by even 1/2 of 1%. You will still see 90 degree temps in summer and you wil stilll see see 20 below zero in winter. SO WHERE is the cost-benefit analysis to the expenditures of massive funds..as far as the eye can see… for climate change….when you may soon see a $5 billion union pension deficit?

  2. It is now reported that the House has joined the Senate and overrode the Gov’s pension bill veto 148 -0……Amazing that every legislator, both Ds and Rs, would capitulate to the demands of Vermont’s state employees’ unions.

    This is quite remarkable as defined benefit pension plans are expensive, very risky for employers (plus tax payers) and thus are a relative rarity in this country. Vermont state employees’ defined pension benefits puts them among the top 3% of all American workers and the top 30% of all union workers.

    Vermont state workers and teachers enjoy pension benefits that the vast majority of both all workers and union workers in this country do not enjoy……Meanwhile Vermont is ranked 26th or in the bottom half of the country with annual median household of $63,001…..Making Vermont taxpayers less able to afford expensive and risky defined benefit programs.

    Here are some numbers showing the percentage of all American workers with pension plans and the breakout of the type of plans they have:

    67% of all American workers have pension plans
    3% have defined benefit plans
    12% have both defined benefit and defined contribution plans
    52% Have defined contribution plans

    The pension numbers for union workers:

    91% have pension plans
    30% have defined benefit plans
    34% have both defined benefit and defined contribution plans
    27% have defined contribution plans

    https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2021/67-percent-of-private-industry-workers-had-access-to-retirement-plans-in-2020.htm

    One has to wonder who our elected legislators are working for…….The tax payers of Vermont or the state employee unions. It seems that the Vermont House and Senate have sided with the unions over the taxpayers with this veto override.

  3. That is the result of a “Republican” governor who does nothing to help elect limited-government free-market Republicans to the legislature. Phil Scott is about Phil Scott and that is what makes him quite useless.

  4. Not one fiscal conservative can be found in the hallowed halls of the Vermont State House or across the rolling hill towns and cities of Vermont. They must have all moved to Florida.

  5. The Vermont Senate voted 30-0 to over-ride Scott’s veto. That includes the Republicans too.

    What more can be said? We’re screwed unless they’re all replaced.

    • Great comment, Jay! How much more obvious can it be? Herr Scott probably vetoed the bill because he knew that it would be overridden. Nothing but “political theater”. Vermont is circling the drain.

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