The end of the session is upon us. We have been gearing up this past week to get all our bills out of House Education. The Senate voted out the budget 28-2 and is now coming back to the House to discuss any changes. The Vermont Legislature meets until a budget is passed, typically in May. From what I am hearing we could adjourn May 6th or May 13th, so please stay tuned!
I want to thank Sen. Corey Parent for being one of the two to vote against the budget proposed by the Senate. Some contentions with the budget in the Senate are that this budget removes some significant funding for substance abuse prevention, cell tower expansion, tax relief for seniors on fixed incomes, military veterans, nurse, and childcare workers and much more that the Governor first proposed back in January. There is still a lot more work to get a final budget that the House and Senate will agree on. If the Governor doesn’t like the final bill, we would likely see a veto session in June.
As I have mentioned in previous updates, we still face a demographic issue in our state. A big concern is the drop in student enrollment of over 21% in the past 18 years. We have more jobs than we have people to fill them. Policies set in Montpelier, including how we spend one-time federal ARPA money, should focus on workforce development and improving our career and technical centers. I stand with Governor Scott on these initiatives.
In House Education we are finishing up and voting out a few bills. Some include: S. 162 - an act relating to the collective bargaining rights of teachers, S. 283 - an act relating to miscellaneous changes to education laws, and S. 139 - an act relating to nondiscriminatory school branding. The first two bills passed 11-0 out of committee, but the mascot bill (S.139) has delt with more roadblocks. To me, the issues are with taking local control away from local school boards and the cost. There are large costs associated with changing a mascot. In Rutland they have changed their logo and it cost their taxpayers around $200,000.
This final stretch of the legislature has a lot of busy time and a lot of down time. We usually say: “hurry up and wait!” The final few weeks could see late nights and a lot of compromise. I appreciate all the work my colleagues do in their committees and the final debates we have on the floor. I enjoy serving the people of St. Albans and look forward to hearing from constituents as we finalize this legislative session. Please reach out with any questions, comments, or concerns you may have at [email protected].