MONTPELIER, Vt. — Gov. Phil Scott on Tuesday laid out his vision for a 2019 budget that doesn’t approve any new taxes or fees and encourages people to move to the Green Mountain State.
In his annual budget address, Scott, a Republican who took office a year ago, said the 2019 budget calls for total state spending of almost $3.9 billion, an increase of $82 million over the current year’s budget.
He said too many hardworking Vermont residents are facing costs, including utility and health care expenses, that are growing faster than their incomes.
“As a matter of principle, I don’t believe any of these costs should be growing faster than wages,” he said during his 40-minute speech. “Especially the costs we in this chamber can influence.”
Democratic and Progressive leaders of the House and the Senate said later that Scott’s budget, which takes effect July 1, and some of his ideas were building on ideas begun in previous legislatures.
“On a whole range of areas we are going to work well with the administration,” said Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe, a Democrat and Progressive.
Scott said his goal is to see the economy grow, make Vermont more affordable and protect the state’s most vulnerable people. He’s also calling for a series of measures that will encourage people to move to Vermont and create jobs.
Scott, like some of his predecessors, is looking for a way to attract newcomers or encourage people who have left to come back to Vermont, which is seeing a demographic shift caused by an aging population, young people leaving and too few newcomers moving in.
As part of the budget Scott wants to spend $3.2 million on programs that will help people who have left the state return, getting visitors to stay or “maybe even (attracting) those who haven’t been here before but share our values and want to raise their family in the safest and healthiest state in the country.”
To do that, he said, he’s proposing non-traditional marketing programs that can identify people who might be willing to move to Vermont.
“In 2018, the technology exists to identify people who want to hear our story,” Scott said. “So, let’s use these tools coupled with direct contact to close the deal.”
Scott also is supporting programs to help people buy their first homes, encourage workforce development to ensure there are enough trained workers to fill existing jobs and find ways to help entrepreneurs expand their businesses.