MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Legislature has adjourned after passing a more than $8 billion budget in a session marked by remote legislating and hundreds of millions of dollars in federal pandemic relief funds.
The session came to a close Thursday evening with leaders in the Democrat-controlled legislature and Republican Gov. Phil Scott acknowledging what was accomplished despite tense fights over policy and spending bills, Vermont Public Radio reported.
“We will be the example for others and show that putting politics aside is the best way to get the people the results they deserve and that’s just what we did,” the governor said in his adjournment speech to lawmakers.
In the final weeks of the session, Scott vetoed three bills and Democratic lawmakers and the governor had disagreed over tax policy, economic development and reforms to the state's land use law.
The spending plan includes big investments in housing, broadband, the environment and education while lawmakers also approved allocating more than $90 million to workforce and economic development.
“You showed up energized, ready to work diligently on the important issues that needed to be tackled to create a brighter future, one that leaves no Vermonter behind, Democratic House Speaker Jill Krowinski told lawmakers, WCAX-TV reported.
VPR reports that Krowinski said one of the most important legislative accomplishments of the year was the proposed constitutional amendment that would protect reproductive rights that voters will decide on later this year as abortion rights supporters brace for the U.S. Supreme Court to possibly overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade case legalizing abortion nationwide.
“If the voters support this in November, Vermont will be the first state in the country to explicitly protect reproductive liberty in its constitution,” Krowinski said. “It’s a critical amendment, and something that I am especially proud of.”