Months-long contention came to a head on Thursday as Vermont House Republicans and Democrats sparred over the lower chamber’s proposed 2024 budget. 

Governor Phil Scott and members of his party say the proposed budget would mean $500 million dollars in more taxes and fees for Vermonters in 2024. They also say that it would make it harder to hit federal matching fund goals in the coming years. 

The $8.5 billion budget that passed out of the House’s Appropriations Committee on Monday would address shared priorities between the two parties, including over $90 million for childcare and a hefty lump sum for paid family and medical leave, and $137 million housing subsidies. 

“We heard you, we’re listening, and now we’re acting,” said Rep. Theresa Wood, D-Waterbury. 

Payroll taxes would be implemented to pay for them, something the House Minority Leader Patty McCoy, R-Poultney, thinks will cause more harm. 

“Vermonters would pay more, and in many cases, get less,” McCoy said. 

The governor’s budget proposal would fund similar initiatives, but at a slower, less expensive pace without raising taxes. He also would set aside money to leverage nearly a $1 billion in additional federal dollars in the years to come, but Democrats have stayed firm that those in Vermont need more significant changes now. 

Legislators mull the question – can common ground be reached?  

Republicans say there has been a shift in attitude from Democrats, who hold a super majority in both chambers, and with the gravity that the waning federal dollars bring. 

“We have a substantial amount of new members who have not seen the hard times. This will be a new experience for them, and if they are successful with these budgets it will be a new experience for us,” said Sen. Randy Brock, R-St. Albans. 

House Speaker Jill Krowinski, D-Burlington says they are leaving the door open for the governor and fellow lawmakers to pull up a chair and negotiate. 

“Our value statement and our budget has a long way to go before it hits his desk so I would ask for him to come to the table and to work with us,” Krowinski said. 

The budget was preliminarily passed through the House on Thursday.