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Budget proposal approved in Vermont House reroutes some of Scott's spending priorities

Two women stand next to each other, both gesturing with their hands.
Zoe McDonald
Vermont Public
Reps. Diane Lanpher and Jill Krowinski, both Democrats, respond after Gov. Phil Scott's budget address on Jan. 23. The House on Friday approved a proposed budget that replaces some of Scott's initiatives with other priorities, such as funding for the state college system.

House lawmakers gave final approval Friday to an $8.6 billion state budget proposal that makes some changes to the spending plan Gov. Phil Scott unveiled in January.

The fiscal year 2025 appropriations bill passed largely along party lines on Friday, but Vergennes Rep. Diane Lanpher, the Democratic chair of the House Committee on Appropriations, said large spending bills tend to invite political controversy.

“The process of balancing a state budget each year that respects the values of Vermonters and the revenues within the treasurer can at times appear messy and loud,” Lanpher said. “But that is how democracy works.”

Democratic leaders in the House dialed back some of the Republican governor's top priorities — such as a rental unit rehabilitation program and manufactured home improvement fund — in favor of other initiatives.

More from Vermont Public: Gov. Phil Scott reverts to pre-pandemic spending norms in proposed fiscal year 2025 budget

The budget, for instance, provides $5 million more than Scott’s did for the Vermont State College System. Lanpher said lawmakers made a commitment to state colleges several years ago to provide five years of “bridge funding,” as the troubled system looks to regain its financial footing.

“Our previous commitment was $10 million, so we were able to do that in this budget,” Lanpher said.

The House has restored funding for a fish hatchery in Salisbury that was slated for closure under Scott’s spending plan. And House lawmakers have also increased funding for adult education, mental health urgent care centers and the Vermont Arts Council.

Though the budget approved Friday lives within the confines of the current revenue forecast, the proposal does not include $131 million in new spending initiatives approved by House lawmakers in separate bills earlier this week.

Democratic House leaders have proposed using a tax increase on high earners and corporations to pay for the new initiatives. Scott and House Republicans say the plan would discourage businesses from locating in the state, and compel the high earners — who already provide 30% of personal income tax revenue in Vermont — to move to states with lower tax rates.

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The Vermont Statehouse is often called the people’s house. I am your eyes and ears there. I keep a close eye on how legislation could affect your life; I also regularly speak to the people who write that legislation.
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