My plan will achieve budget savings and shorten legislative sessions
Middlesex, Vt. – Just days after the second session of the legislative biennium gaveled to a close, candidate for Governor Phil Scott is advancing two proposals aimed at saving taxpayer dollars, improving the state’s budgeting process and helping more everyday Vermonters to serve in the Legislature.
Specifically, Scott is calling for 90-day limit to annual legislative sessions and a two-year state budget cycle. Scott, who served five terms as state senator from Washington County, and most recently as a three-term Lt. Governor, says these changes will focus lawmakers on issues Vermonters care most about, like growing the economy and making state government more efficient and less costly, and encourage more Vermonters to serve in the Legislature.
90-Day Annual Sessions
Vermonters are counting on their elected leaders to tackle the issues that matter most to working families and employers, Scott said. That’s why he feels it’s critical to give as many Vermonters as possible the opportunity to serve.
“I believe in a truly citizen Legislature with Vermonters from all walks of life participating and offering their perspectives,” Scott said. “Unfortunately, the long and unpredictable length of the sessions discourages normal, everyday folks from running. A 90-day session would set clear parameters that would encourage more working Vermonters to run and to serve. In addition to encouraging more Vermonters to serve, this commonsense approach will help get us back on track with legislative sessions that are intensive and disciplined about addressing key fiscal and operational needs.”
Under Scott’s plan the Governor would retain the ability to call special sessions for emergencies or other necessities.
“As Governor, I’ll work closely with the Legislature to establish clear priorities grounded in our shared commitment to protect vulnerable Vermonters, make Vermont more affordable and help working families keep more of what they earn, so that we can all work toward common goals. ”
Two-Year Budget Cycle
Scott also proposed shifting the state from its current 12-month budget to a 24-month budget cycle, which would strengthen planning and management, and reduce costs.
“Requiring the state to build and manage to a two-year budget would impose more fiscal discipline on spending, strengthen long-term planning and give us the foundation we need to modernize government in ways that lower operational costs,” Scott said. “Biennial budgeting can also reduce the time and cost of the budgeting process itself.”
Scott has also said his administration will not propose – nor will he sign – an annual state budget that grows more than the annual economic growth or household wages in the previous year. Over the past 10 years, Vermont’s economy has increased at an average inflation-adjusted rate of less than 1 percent each year. Meanwhile, state spending has been growing at nearly 5 percent, the workforce is shrinking and the tax burden is growing.
“As a matter of principle, I believe the state budget should not grow more than wages or the economy in the previous year,” Scott added. “This will help families keep more of what they earn and have an opportunity to save more to get ahead. An arbitrary limit on state budgets as some have proposed is an inadequate solution for years when economic growth and inflation-adjusted wage growth do not reach 2 percent, which has been the case in recent years. Instead, I’ll propose state budgets rooted in the current fiscal realities.”
Scott is prepared to work closely with newly elected lawmakers to advance these critical initiatives.
 (Source: Art Woolf for the Burlington Free Press: http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/money/industries/2015/06/17/slow-gdp-growth-tied-working-population/28869809/)
To learn more, visit www.PhilScott.org