The Vermont legislature adjourned on May 12th around midnight. As of the writing of this update, several bills have been vetoed and several more including the budget and school finance bills are promised vetoes. Though the Governor had threatened to veto these bills, the legislature did not schedule a veto session but rather adjourned “sine die” which means without a date to return. In the second year of a two-year biennium it is typical to adjourn with both a scheduled veto session or if the governor does not veto any legislation, sine die.
Given no veto session was scheduled, without any further action, the legislature would return to session after the November elections on the first Wednesday in January after the first Monday. In this case, if the governor vetoes the budget and no veto session has been scheduled by the legislature, then the governor needs to call the legislature back for a special session to agree on a budget bill to fund government after July 1, 2018. The legislature can also take up any bills it would like to in a special session, as opposed to a veto session which deals only with those bills that have been vetoed.
On May 23rd we were called back by the governor for a special session. It is my hope that this session will be brief and will only deal with those bills needed to ensure the function of services for Vermonters and the funding of schools. Given that so much hinges on the final passage of the budget and school finance bills, and that the legislature can take up anything during a special session, I am holding off on writing a final legislative update for this session.
Going into this session I’d like you to know that I will not support school finance bills which mandate student/staff ratios or lowering of excess spending thresholds until and if the state is responsible for the running of the schools or we have proper weighting of students which acknowledges that every child cannot be provided equitable educational opportunities for the same per pupil spending. We can and should address property taxes, but it requires proper student weights to do so in a way that doesn’t harm the students in rural Vermont. At the end of this Special Session, I will provide a comprehensive legislative update.