Douglas will veto budget; calls special session for June

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(Host) Governor Jim Douglas is calling lawmakers back to Montpelier for a special session early next month because he plans to veto the state budget.

Douglas says he can’t support the Democrats’ budget because it’s not sustainable and includes too many tax increases.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) The governor says he’s come to the conclusion that it doesn’t make a lot of sense to hold additional negotiations with the Democrats to find a compromise budget plan because little has been gained from previous efforts.

So Douglas says he’ll issue the first budget veto in the history of the state.

(Douglas) "I think it’s important that we have a budget that meets the needs of the people of our state, that doesn’t raise taxes on working Vermonters, that makes some important reductions in the level of expenditures, that balances the budget – not just for next year, but for the years beyond – that addresses the economic future of our state in a meaningful way."

(Kinzel) And Douglas says his differences with the Democrats can be settled only by holding a veto override vote during the first week of June.

(Douglas) "So I think the only way to resolve that is to hold a vote on my veto and decide one way or another whether we need to revise it. If they have the support to override the veto then they will own this budget."

(Kinzel) Senate President Peter Shumlin defended the Democrats’ budget plan and said it included reasonable spending restrictions and an income tax cut for most Vermonters.

(Shumlin) "It’s a disappointing move on the governor’s part. The speaker and I have made very clear that we have struck the balance between the tough cuts that needed to be made: a middle class tax cut for anyone making less than a quarter of a million dollars a year in Vermont – that’s most Vermonters – as well as very careful choices to downsize government. And it meets many of the wishes that he had, many of the wishes that we had. It is a compromise and we think he ought to sign it."

(Kinzel) Shumlin says it’s now imperative that the governor present a detailed and comprehensive alternative budget proposal to lawmakers.

(Shumlin) "He has the responsibility to tell every legislator and make available to every Vermonter what his plan would be that would be better and different from ours."

(Kinzel) Douglas says he plans to do just that. He says he’ll present his budget solutions to legislative leaders at a meeting next Tuesday.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

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