Technically, the legislature has adjourned and come back for a "special session." To those of us in careers that revolve around the Statehouse, however, 2018 mostly feels like a really long session. I've been holding off on the publication of our late May newsletter in the hope that we could publish a final legislative report that included the budget and tax bills, but at this writing there is no chance the big issues will be resolved until next week
---- at the earliest.
Legislators are back in the Statehouse because the Governor vetoed the must-pass budget and tax bills. Legislative leaders declined to schedule a veto session, forcing the Governor to convene a "special session" to resolve the money issues. He wasted no time bringing lawmakers back. While for the most part, only the money committees have been meeting, all legislators have been called to the Statehouse several times for floor action.
This week, House and Senate budget writers took a new approach to the budget, with an eye toward avoiding an unprecedented Vermont government shutdown on July 1. They developed a new budget proposal that includes only the items on which they believe they have agreement with the Administration, leaving the controversial school spending and other items for a separate bill. The 2 percent Medicaid increase for home health, hospice and long-term care services for which the VNAs of Vermont advocated all session is in the "uncontroversial" proposal. Yesterday, over objections to the treatment of the property tax rate in the "uncontroversial" bill and the fact that the bill could result in increased property taxes, House Republicans refused to suspend the rules to allow the bill to come to a vote. House Republicans also wanted to ensure that they and the Governor didn't lose their leverage to negotiate with Democrats on the "controversial" parts of the budget and tax bills. That means the House cannot even give preliminary approval to the bill until tomorrow, at the earliest.
And so, we've drafted a report on all of the policy bills that we've been following all session that you can read
, but we'll be sending out a special message to let you know when the budget has been fully resolved. We are optimistic that our Medicaid increase will survive the process.