Statehouse Headliners: Gov. Scott’s 10 vetoes this year show commitment to jobs, low taxes

By Guy Page

Gov. Phil Scott has vetoed 10 bills sent to him by the Legislature this year. Every veto, as well as excerpts from the governor’s explanations of his decisions, appears below.

H.196, Paid family leave. Gov. Scott explains:  “I have repeatedly voiced that I would be – and still am – open to working to create a State-run, voluntary system which provides this type of benefit for individuals who choose to invest a portion of each pay check, while allowing others to opt-out. Unfortunately, the Legislature decided to pursue a program that increases taxes taken out of the paychecks of all Vermonters.”

H.911, Changes in personal income tax and education financing, and H.924, the 2019 state budget. Gov. Scott explains: “My primary objection to [these two] bills…..is that together they result in an unnecessary and avoidable $33 million increase in statewide property tax rates.

“We have, in this fiscal year, approximately $160 million more in revenue than last year. This additional revenue breaks down as follows:
– $82 million more from organic economic growth and federal tax reform;
– $34 million in unanticipated funds from the Attorney General’s tobacco settlement;
– $44 million in surplus revenue recently added to the budget.

“Having collected far more revenue from Vermonters than expected, as well as additional revenue from other sources, we do not need to raise statewide property tax rates on Vermonters to fully fund school budgets…. I cannot support legislation which adds or increases taxes on Vermonters.”

S.40, Increasing the minimum wage to $15 by 2024. Gov. Scott explains: “I believe the bill is more likely to harm those it intends to help, weaken small businesses and the economy as a whole, and deepen the economic inequality that exists between Chittenden County and other counties in the state.”

S.105, Consumer justice enforcement. Gov. Scott explains: “Vermont’s outdoor recreation economy and non-profit organizations, like the YMCA, Run Vermont, and the Vermont Special Olympics who offer recreational services to the community, have voiced opposition to provisions in this bill, noting it will greatly inhibit the use of standard waivers, which are central to daily operations.”

S.197, Liability for toxic substance exposures or releases. Gov. Scott explains: “I recognize the intent of this bill is to help ensure those exposed to harmful chemicals, like PFOA, can access financial resources for medical monitoring to increase early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases that may occur because of such exposure. However, it is important to note that there is nothing that currently keeps an individual from seeking judicial recourse to gain medical monitoring from an entity. The level of liability this legislation creates for Vermont businesses is unprecedented and counter to my Administration’s goal to make Vermont more affordable.”

S.222, Miscellaneous judiciary procedures, vetoed 5/30. Gov. Scott explains: “This bill purports to make several technical amendments related to civil and criminal procedure statutes. However, it makes substantive changes to the laws regarding video conferencing of arraignments and other appearances before a Court officer, and modifies regulations for marijuana dispensaries, and sealing and expungement of records.

“Of primary concern are the changes to video conferencing of arraignments and other appearances before a Court officer. I understand the Judiciary was quite clear with both the Senate and House Judiciary Committees regarding its desire to proceed with this tool to facilitate Court administration. I am concerned the Legislature has disregarded the obvious separation of powers issue. One of the necessary aspects of court administration is the discretionary aspect of allocating judicial resources and this bill removes this tool from the purview of the Judiciary.”

S.273, Miscellaneous law enforcement amendments. Gov. Scott explains: “This bill restructures the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council and could affect the operation of the Vermont Police Academy in a way which substantially weakens the Council and unnecessarily politicizes this essential link between improving the quality of law enforcement and protecting Vermonters. Specifically, this bill removes the authority of the Governor to appoint five members to the Council to provide broad representation of the law enforcement community and the public. I, as well as prior Governors, have recognized the importance of the representation of Sheriffs, State’s Attorneys and Police Chiefs on the Council. Unfortunately, this bill eliminates representation of the elected State’s Attorneys on the Council.”

S.281, Mitigation of systemic racism. Gov. Scott explains: “I support without reservation the goal of this bill to ensure State governance is conducted in an unbiased, open, inclusive and welcoming manner…..to ensure the intent of the legislation is fulfilled without delay, I have signed Executive Order 04-18. This Executive Order is modeled after S.281 but goes further in our effort to ensure racial, ethnic and cultural diversity, equity and equality – and avoids the unconstitutional provisions included in the bill.

“Specifically, the order establishes the position of Chief Racial Equity and Diversity Officer, to be nominated and vetted by a five-member panel selected in consultation with the Judiciary, the Legislature and the Chair of the Human Rights Commission. The Chief Racial Equity and Diversity Officer will be housed in the Office of the Secretary of Administration. The duties and responsibilities of the Chief Racial Equity and Diversity Officer include those reflected in S.281.”

S.103, Regulation of toxic substances and hazardous materials. Gov Scott explains: “It is duplicative to existing measures that already achieve its desired protections. In my view S.103 will jeopardize jobs and make Vermont less competitive for businesses.

None of these vetoes have been overridden, an act that requires a two-thirds majority of the Legislature. Ten vetoes in a single year is an extraordinarily high number. Only two governors have ever had more for their entire careers, Howard Dean (21 over 12 years) and James Douglas (18 over eight years).

The Legislature is currently in special session trying to set a 2019 budget. Gov. Scott wants to use the windfall discussed above to keep from raising taxes, while legislative leadership would raise taxes and apply the windfall to reduce the teachers’ pension fund shortfall. Both sides hope to avert a state government shutdown which could occur without a budget agreement by July 1.

Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership; the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare; and Physicians, Families and Friends for a Better Vermont.

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR
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7 thoughts on “Statehouse Headliners: Gov. Scott’s 10 vetoes this year show commitment to jobs, low taxes

  1. Recently, while I was working in the flower beds in the front yard, my neighbor stopped by to chat as they returned home from walking their dog. During our friendly conversation, I asked their little girl what she wanted to be when she grew up.

    She said she wanted to be President someday. Both of her parents, Democrat Party members, were standing there so I asked her, “If you were President what would be the first thing you would do?”

    She replied.. “I’d give food and houses to all the homeless people.” Her parents beamed with pride!
    “Wow… what a worthy goal!” I said . . .
    “But you don’t have to wait until you’re President to do that!”

    “What do you mean?” she replied.
    So I told her, “You can come over to my house and mow the lawn, pull weeds, and trim my hedge, and I’ll pay you $50.
    Then you can go over to the grocery store where the homeless guy hangs out, and you can give him the $50 to use toward food and a new house.”

    She thought that over for a few seconds, then she looked me straight in the eye and asked, “Why doesn’t the homeless guy come over and do the work, and you can just pay him the $50?”

    I said, “Welcome to the Republican Party.”

    Her parents aren’t speaking to me anymore.

    If you know any Republicans that would get a chuckle out of this, share it with them.

    Most Democrats will just delete this, I guess the logic escapes them.

    • Willem

      You Nailed it and her parents,as Margret Thatcher is reported to have said,Socialism is great until you run out of other peoples money.

  2. “We have, in this fiscal year, approximately $160 million more in revenue than last year. This additional revenue breaks down as follows:
    – $82 million more from organic economic growth and federal tax reform;
    – $34 million in unanticipated funds from the Attorney General’s tobacco settlement;
    – $44 million in surplus revenue recently added to the budget.

    How much of the $82 million was from federal tax reform?

    What about state tax reform with state income taxes being calculated on Adjusted Gross Income, instead of the much smaller Taxable income after deductions?

    Where did the surplus $44 come from?

  3. Commitment to Jobs and Low Taxes is great, but CONTINUING to have the outrageously expensive solar net-metering programs is a major headwind for the Vermont economy.

    Cost to reduce 1 metric ton of CO2 would be 58152/49.77 = $1,168; this is off the charts expensive and unsustainable. The net-metering program should be immediately ended.

    See this URL
    http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/economics-of-residential-rooftop-solar-in-new-england

    Cost of Electricity

    The 25-y cost of amortizing the $12,250 loan would be $22,195
    The 25-y production would be 146,875 kWh
    The 25-y average cost of producing the electricity would be 15.1 c/kWh (highly subsidized); would be 17500/12250 x 15.1 = 21.6 c/kWh, without the federal ITC subsidy

    Not included are the costs of:
    – Inverter replacement in about year 10 and 20. The inverter converts the DC output of the panels to AC.
    – Any O&M costs, replacement parts and service contract.

    CO2 Emissions Reduction

    The closing of Vermont Yankee increased NE grid CO2 emissions from 28 million ton in 2014 to 30.2 million ton in 2015. See URL. The NE System CO2 intensity was 730, 726, and 747 lb/MWh in 2013, 2014 and 2015, respectively, based on primary energy, about 8% higher, based on source energy. See table 1.1 in URL.

    https://www.iso-ne.com/static-assets/documents/2017/01/2015_emissions_report.pdf
    http://www.iso-ne.com/static-assets/documents/2016/01/2014_emissions_report.pdf

    The 25-y CO2 reduction would be 146875/1000 x 747/2204.62 = 49.77 metric ton/MWh
    The unsubsidized cost of amortizing the solar system would be 17500/12250 x 888 x 25 = $31,714, or 31714/146875 = 21.6 c/kWh
    The 25-y cost of the electricity would be 146875 x 0.18 = $26,438
    Total 25-y cost would be $58,152
    Cost to reduce 1 metric ton of CO2 would be 58152/49.77 = $1,168; this is off the charts expensive and unsustainable. The net-metering program should be immediately ended.

  4. Yet Vermont’s own GMC is about to drop 350 Million on a state of the art plant in South Carolina that will create 500 new jobs.

    Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. is locating new operations in Spartanburg County.
    $350 million investment to create 500 jobs.
    Keurig is a specialty coffee and coffee maker company whose products are used in 25 million homes throughout North America.
    Keurig was established in 1981.
    The company’s new roasting and packaging facility will be located in the Tyger River Industrial Park in Moore, S.C.

    If that;s not a shot above the bow I’m not sure what is.

    “Spartanburg Economic Futures Group Board Chairman Ethan Burroughs concluded, “We enthusiastically welcome Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. to Spartanburg County where we work diligently to help and support new industry. We are confident that Keurig, as an industry leader and a globally respected brand, will thrive and find ample opportunity in our international-friendly Upstate community.”

    https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180518005389/en/Keurig-Green-Mountain-Creating-500-Jobs-South

  5. “Gov. Scott’s 10 vetos this year show commitment to jobs, low taxes”

    Unfortunately there is one bill he didn’t veto,that affected Vermonters natural/civil rights under both the Vermont and federal Constitutions.
    That brings into question his commitment to Vermont and the U S Constitutions and his violation is unforgivable as was the lie he told Vermonters as a campaign promise.

    The man is a self proven liar and violated Vermonters trust along with the respective Constitutions,such behavior doesn’t deserve to serve in elective office,not even as dog catcher.

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