Speaking in purely political terms, last night’s House vote on the FY2024 budget was a truly remarkable thing. The Democratic majority lost a stunning 17 votes from its own Dem/Progressive caucus and came ten votes short of the two-thirds margin needed to override a likely gubernatorial veto.
Those 17 objected to the budget’s lack of funding for the motel voucher program that currently shelters 80% of Vermont’s homeless, and they stood firm under what I’m sure was heavy pressure from caucus leadership. It’s especially noteworthy that so many of the dissidents were new to the Golden Dome. Eight of the 17 are in their first term in office. They’ve only just entered the kingdom and now they’ve pissed off the royal guard.
Breaking down the tally, 90 voted yes, 53 no, six were absent, and the House Speaker doesn’t vote unless needed. Four of the six absentees were Democrats likely to support the caucus (Brownell, Masland, O’Brien, Pearl), and two were Republicans almost certain to vote “No” (Graham, Wilson). That brings us to a hypothetical count of 94 in favor and 55 against, with Krowinski waiting in the wings. If my math is correct, the majority would have to swing five votes to win an override (with Krowinski casting the 100th vote). That’s assuming every single representative is present and voting and that no vacancies will have occurred in the House between now and the override session in late June.
The outcome of the vote means that caucus leadership will either have to negotiate with the dissidents on a budget amendment or convince at least five to rejoin the Dark Side.
That’s the good news, and it’s far from inconsequential. The bad news? More than 800 households will be evicted from their motel rooms at the end of this month. Nothing can change that now, barring a divine or gubernatorial intervention. Phase One of a preventable humanitarian crisis is definitely going to happen.Continue reading