Other Issues 12/29/2021

Continued Stalemate on Pension Reform
Pension reform for State employees and teachers is back on the agenda, with no clear path forward. The summer study committee was tasked with identifying new revenue sources to permanently address the $5 billion debt that has accumulated and must be paid by 2038. The unions have been clear that they don’t want substantive changes to their benefits and that any solution must have a dedicated revenue source. Given Governor Scott’s opposition to raising taxes, that is unlikely and the committee’s inability to name a tax recognized that political reality. Lawmakers previously set aside $150 million in one-time funds to put toward the pension debt as an incentive to find a solution. Since it’s an election year, it’s likely these funds will be appropriated, and no new tax will be levied, continuing the long-term impasse on this issue.

Will Single Member Districts Gain Traction?
The General Assembly will redraw its boundaries for electing House and Senate members in 2022, using new Census data to maintain adherence to the one person-one vote standard. The Legislative Apportionment Board approved a map for the Vermont House of Representatives, eliminating two-member districts. The Vermont Senate map has not yet been released, but the debate over single-member districts is in play there as well, with many legislators expressing concerns about fairness for their constituents, as well as the unspoken threat to their own electability.

Minimum Wage Is Set to Increase on January 1  
Beginning January 1, 2022, Vermont’s minimum wage will rise to $12.55 per hour, an increase of $0.80 from the current minimum wage of $11.75. Tipped employee minimum wages will rise from the current $5.88 to $6.28 per hour.