Governor Nice Guy Strikes Again

Gov. Phil Scott indulged his passive-aggressive tendencies this week by refusing to sign or veto H.145, the budget adjustment act. He laid down his pen despite the fact that the Legislature gave him everything he asked for in his budget adjustment plan.

But lawmakers did have the temerity to toss in a few items of their own. This was apparently too much for the governor. In his position, a Republican facing Democratic supermajorities, you’d think he might be willing to meet them halfway, but no sirree, not Governor Nice Guy.

As is often the case with vetoes or refusals to commit, Scott’s reasoning was awfully thin. He avoided taking a position on the Legislature’s additions, he merely wants them to wait another couple of months. And he chided lawmakers for failing to live up to his standard for “discipline and clarity” in appropriating state funds.

To put it the other way, he sees the Legislature as fuzzy and undisciplined. Nice guy.

It gets worse. The Legislature actually met him halfway, cutting most of its proposals to spend more money than Scott wanted. Not good enough. He needs to have it all.

His process-heavy argument allows him to skate on the merit of the Legislature’s proposals. Makes sense; one of its biggest adds is $19 million to extend the motel voucher program through June, and another devotes $2.5 million to emergency shelter construction. I doubt he wants to be perceived as the cold-hearted Scrooge who balked at a couple million for emergency shelters and kicked thousands of Vermonters out of their housing when the program expires on [checks notes] March 31 — a whole ten days from now.

You know, Governor, the emergency housing appropriation couldn’t have waited for the FY24 budget process because the frickin’ program would have shut down by the end of next week. It had to be done in budget adjustment, or not at all.

So that argument makes no sense.

As for his overall assertion, that it’s unwise to spend so much money so early, well, poppycock. The state is carrying a $335 million surplus. The Legislature’s major additions were a mere fraction of that. The big adds were the money for motel vouchers and shelter construction plus $25 million for building affordable housing — which is in critically short supply, and which everyone in Montpelier is willing to spend money on. There is no argument about whether we need more affordable housing. None!

In short, the governor’s stated rationale for refusing to sign is transparently ridiculous. And refusing to sign, rather than taking an actual stand one way or the other, is his way of avoiding an unwinnable veto override battle and ducking responsibility for ending the motel voucher program in a matter of days.

It’s not his finest moment. But then, it’s standard operating procedure whenever Scott finds himself at odds with the Legislature. I think we can look forward to yet another veto-heavy session, as Gov. Nice Guy adds to his all-time record for vetoes by a single chief executive.


1 thought on “Governor Nice Guy Strikes Again

  1. P.

    Infantile passive-aggressive bullshit.
    My two word personal greeting to Gov Scott would get me in a lot of trouble.
    And the above also applies to the GMCB.
    If you folks don’t want to do your job, please quit now. Make room for those who want the work.
    In the real world, the bunch of you should and would have been fired for poor job performance.


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