The Adult in the Room

With two weeks to go before the target May 6 adjournment, the betting pool is in full swing. Those placing bets in favor of meeting the deadline point to the early budget action by the Senate, which sends the $8 billion appropriations bill to conference committee to resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions. Others have guessed a week later because no one likes working on the Saturday before Mother’s Day and college graduation weekend. Then there are the realists, putting their money down on late May due to Governor Scott’s growing list of disagreements with legislative proposals.

In the last few weeks, the Governor has outlined his disagreements with several legislative proposals, including pension reform, economic development investment, tax relief packages, new program spending, a contractor registry, and housing rental registries. He reportedly made an off-camera comment last week that “someone needs to be the adult in the room” referring to his willingness to veto a budget with spending that goes beyond what he believes is fiscally prudent.

This is typical end-of-the-session posturing, much of which will be negotiated to a compromise before the Legislature delivers these bills to the Governor’s desk. For many policy makers already looking ahead to the November election, the summer campaign season provides additional motivation to reach consensus quickly. In previous years, conventional wisdom might indicate that the Governor has this same motivation, but no opponent has yet announced.

If you’re placing bets in the adjournment pool, make sure you understand the difference between adjournment to a date certain and adjournment sine die, the former allowing for the Legislature to return to consider a veto override and the latter being final adjournment. Either way, you can count on the Vermont Chamber’s five-person lobbying team to be working for you in Montpelier right down to the end.