This was the happy scene yesterday as Senate Appropriations Committee chair Jane Kitchel peremptorily ended discussion on the housing portion of the FY2024 budget, which makes no provision for extending the motel voucher program that currently shelters 80% of Vermont’s unhoused. Kitchel herself seems excited; the rest of them look like they’d rather be anywhere else.
This morning saw a much more celebratory occasion, as the House quickly dispatched Gov. Phil Scott’s veto of S.5, the Affordable Heat Act. And much as I hate to rain on the majority Democrats’ victory parade, I have to wonder why they couldn’t spare just a tiny bit of their abundant political capital to avoid the imminently avoidable humanitarian crisis that will unfold if the voucher program ends on schedule.
The 107-42 override vote in the House was an impressive display of political power. The Democrats easily walked over a governor who, at last check, enjoyed a 78% approval rating among the voters.
And yet, on the voucher issue, legislative Democrats made common cause with the Scott administration and threw 1,800 of our most vulnerable households under the bus. It’s a point of comparison that cannot be ignored.Continue reading