(Host) Governor Jim Douglas says he will veto a budget adjustment bill because it doesn’t contain $2 million dollars for a college scholarship program.
Each year, the Legislature approves an adjustment to the current fiscal year budget. This year’s bill proved controversial. The Republican governor and the Democratic legislature disagreed over key spending priorities.
The governor wants to fund the college scholarship program immediately. Legislative leaders say the money should be allocated in next year’s budget.
Governor Douglas was not pleased with the outcome.
(Douglas) “I’ve said for some time that it’s important to use the earliest possible vehicle to get scholarship money out to the students of Vermont, to the families who are struggling to pay for a higher education and the Legislature has refused to do that. Because of their total disregard for the families of Vermont who are struggling to pay for their kids’ college education I will veto the budget adjustment act, return it to the General Assembly and ask them to include the complete recommendations of the Next Generation Commission.”
(Host) Lawmakers say they are working on the scholarship program. But they say that it is a substantial policy issue and not appropriate to include in the budget adjustment bill.
House Speaker Gaye Symington says she’s committed to having the scholarships funded in next year’s budget. But for now, she says the adjustment act needs to include money for an under-funded workforce training program.
(Symington) “So I’m very disappointed that the governor is vetoing the budget adjustment bill because it keeps preventing funds for existing programs for which we have waiting lists from getting into the hands of our employers who have a backlog of needs for these programs.”
(Host) The debate over the scholarship money is a repeat of last year, when the governor threatened to veto the entire budget unless the Legislature included the program.