Third Time's The Charm? Senate Passes Budget Hoping To Avoid A Shutdown

Jun 21, 2018

The Vermont Senate has given its unanimous approval to a new state budget for next year.

Senate leaders say the plan is a fair compromise that's designed to ensure that there isn't a government shutdown at the beginning of July.

By a vote of 27 to 0, the Senate has given its approval to a new state budget that Senate leaders hope will break the five week old property tax stalemate with Governor Phil Scott. It's the third budget passed by the Senate this year. The first two were vetoed by Scott.

Both sides have agreed on a plan to use one-time surplus money to stabilize the residential statewide property tax rate.

But the governor wants to use the additional surplus money to ensure that the nonresidential rate doesn't also increase.

The Democrats argue that Scott's plan artificially supports higher education spending and that it's fiscally irresponsible to use so much one-time money on ongoing programs. They want to use these funds to meet the state's obligations in the Vermont teachers' pension fund.

It's uncertain what the Scott Administration will do when the bill reaches the governor’s desk.

Scott has opposed previous budgets because they included an increase in the non-residential tax rate and this proposal raises that rate by 4.5 cents.

But the Administration has not issued a veto threat at this time and there is always an option that he could let the bill become law without his signature.

The governor and legislative leaders are facing a key deadline: If they don't reach agreement on a new state budget by the end of this month, they'll face the possibility of government shutdown on July 1.