MINORITY LEADER DON TURNER

                       (Photo by Abby Ledoux)

The governor announced on Monday that he would veto the budget and education tax bill and call for a special legislative session. This led to a flurry of activity and a number of trips back to Montpelier to attend meetings this week. A special session is different than a veto session. A veto session is essentially a continuation of the previous session, rules specify that only bills which been vetoed by the governor can be addressed. In my tenure, most sessions the legislature has established a veto date prior to adjourning. The majority decided against that this year and forced the governor to call a special session. When there is a veto session tentatively scheduled, the legislature can choose to negotiate a resolution of the issue after a veto or vote to either sustain or override the governor. A special session requires the legislature to reorganize and start bills all over. This means that we are not limited to just the bills vetoed and I understand that a number of legislators have already submitted requests for new bills. This is very concerning and may lead to a long drawn out special session. The special session will begin on Wednesday at 10 a.m.

The governor’s announcement of his intention to veto the budget and education tax bill should not have been a surprise to anyone. He has stated for many months that he could not support an increase in taxes. This year Vermont’s revenue increased by more than $80 million without any tax changes. In addition the state received $34 million from a settlement with the tobacco industry and a revenue forecast upgrade indicated that there was another $44 million available to spend over last year. That equates to over $160 million in new money available to spend in FY19 over last year FY18. With all of this new money there was no way I could support raising $58 million in additional property taxes which is why I voted against the tax bill and budget last week.