The House and Senate steamed ahead with their motel voucher-free budget, but they fell critically short at the very last hurdle. Thanks to a group of Democrats and Progressives unwilling to evict thousands of Vermonters because “it’s time” or “we just couldn’t find the money,” the House came short of the margin needed to override a gubernatorial veto.
The final tally: 90 votes for the budget, 53 against. House leadership will have to persuade at least three members to abandon their principled stand in order to win an override vote. And Gov. Phil Scott appears bound and determined to deliver a veto.
Update! The official roll call shows that 17 Democratic/Progressive lawmakers voted “No” on the budget. That means leadership will have to flip at least six votes to override a veto, not three. Working on a fresh post about this.
So what happens now? The Legislature is adjourned until June 20, when a three-day override session is scheduled. If Scott does veto the budget, leadership will face a choice: Convince three or more dissidents to join the Dark Side, or craft a compromise on housing that will meet their demands. Looming ahead of it all: The requirement that the state must have a budget in place when the new fiscal year begins on July 1.
One big fly in the ointment: Nearly half of the 1,800 households in the motel voucher program will have already been evicted by then. The program’s eligibility standards tighten at the end of this month, so a last-ditch fight to save the program will come too late for more than 1,000 people facing unsheltered homelessness in less than three weeks.Continue reading