Legislative session adjourned

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(Host) Lawmakers adjourned the 2007 session late Saturday after completing work on a number of key priorities including an education cost containment bill and legislation expanding cell and broadband service throughout the state.

Most of the drama on the final day surrounded the education bill.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Gavel sounds)

(Symington) “The ayes appear to have it the ayes do have it and the House stands in adjournment . (gavel) .yeas.”

(Kinzel) With the swing of her gavel, House Speaker Gaye Symington brought the 2007 legislative session to a close on Saturday night.

The deadlock over the education bill was broken when a compromise plan was endorsed by Democratic leaders and Governor Jim Douglas late Saturday afternoon.

Under the plan, towns with higher than average per pupil spending would face a two step budget process if their school budgets exceed roughly 4%.

Voters would first consider the base budget and then a second supplemental measure that would include all spending above the 4% threshold.

The legislation doesn’t go into effect for two years – it’s estimated the proposal will reduce the growth in overall spending by about 13 million dollars.

The Senate backed the bill by a vote of 23 to 4 but in the House the legislation passed by only a ten vote margin because a coalition of mostly Republicans and liberal Democrats opposed the measure.

Governor Douglas told lawmakers at the end of the evening that he was pleased with the work of session:

(Douglas) “When I delivered my Inaugural Address in January I asked this body to work with me to revolutionize our telecommunications system by making Vermont the nation’s first E-state, where quality cell coverage and broadband Internet are available to every Vermonter anywhere anytime. I also asked the General Assembly to adopt the findings of the Next Generation Commission and launch a comprehensive package of initiatives this year. The bill you passed will open doors of opportunity for many Vermonters who until now believe that a college education was out of their reach.”

(Kinzel) Despite the adjournment of the session, lawmakers could return to the State House in several weeks for a special veto session.

The governor has made very clear that he opposes the global warming bill because it includes a tax on the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

If Douglas does veto the bill, lawmakers will have an opportunity to override the veto.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

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