Gov. Phil Scott called Vermont lawmakers to find common ground and inspire a renewed faith in government that will give hope to everyone.
In an address after being sworn in for his second term, Scott reiterated a theme of his first term, that Vermont’s population is stagnant. He says the lack of growth threatens the state’s economic future.
Scott says he plans to propose programs to make Vermont more affordable and attract more young people to the state.
Democratic House Speaker Mitzi Johnson and President Pro Tem Tim Ashe both say they agree with the governor’s call for civility and goals, but they are waiting to hear the details of his proposals.
The Statehouse welcomed the largest freshman class in more than half a century on Wednesday.
Johnson, nominated and elected to a second-term as speaker, said , We have to do more to make sure that we have a strong diverse rural economy and agricultural sector moving forward and we have to ensure that our successes touch every corner of our state.”
In November, voters sent a clear message to Montpelier. Democrtas now have overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate.
It’s likely the caucus will champion social issues, including paid family leave.
“It will put more money into Vermont businesses and will help our communities thrive,” Johnson said.
Johnson called on all lawmakers to embrace civility and respect. “We have much to do to ensure that all voices are at the table and pushing the discussions in the crucial discussions we have,” she said.
There were a few surprises when committee assignments were announced.
Rep. Pat Brennan, a Colchester Republican, was removed from the Committee on Transportation, which he had chaired for several years. Burlington Democrat Curt McCormack will now chair the committee.
Ashe said he hopes to push a number of issues, including reducing carbon emissions and raising the state’s minimum wage.
“To put it in perspective, a person who makes $1 million a year makes about $50 more in just one hour than a minimum wage worker makes in one full week,” he said.