Should she prevail at the polls come November, Rep. Jill Krowinski, D-Burlington, plans to make another run to lead Vermont’s lower chamber as House speaker.
“I am running for reelection and if I am reelected, I will be running for speaker again,” Krowinski told VTDigger Thursday night, hours after she closed out the 2022 legislative session. “But first, I need to focus on my race.”
Krowinski just completed her first biennium as the House’s top leader and negotiator, guiding the 150-member body through a turbulent period marked by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a historic influx of cash from the federal government and lofty promises to fix Vermont’s systemic issues.
Before she adjourned the House on Thursday, Krowinski delivered a speech reflecting on where legislators were physically and mentally on the first day of the biennium, Jan. 6, 2021. They “gaveled in” virtually from home, sheltering from Covid-19 months before most were able to get vaccinated. Meanwhile, more than 500 miles away, rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to block President Joe Biden from assuming the presidency.
“That very first day of the biennium, our nation's democracy faced one of its biggest threats,” Krowinski said. “In the face of all of this, you showed up energized, ready to work diligently on the important issues that needed to be done … to create a brighter future for Vermonters, one that leaves no one behind.”
Krowinski said one of her proudest achievements during her 10 years in office has been facilitating the legislature’s approval of Proposal 5, the Reproductive Liberty Amendment.
Krowinski, a former employee of Planned Parenthood, began working on Prop 5 years ago, when she served as House majority leader. She presided over the constitutional amendment’s final legislative vote in February of this year, sending it to the ballot for Vermonters to decide this November.
Krowinski presided over a Democratic supermajority in her chamber, as did Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint, D-Windham, in the Senate. This session lacked the sparring between chambers that has characterized previous sessions.
Krowinski and Balint contended with Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, who proved willing to veto major Democratic priorities.
Balint is leaving her seat in the Senate so she can run in this year’s open race for Vermont’s lone seat in the U.S. House. Thursday marked her last day as the Senate’s top dog — a role she said was “the greatest honor in my life.”
Together, Krowinski and Balint pushed through two budgets, and presided over the distribution of billions of dollars in federal Covid relief, infrastructure investments and state surpluses — a feat that, as Scott quipped on Thursday, “is in some ways … actually harder … than when you don't have enough.”
Both leaders shepherded through a monumental state pension deal that will trim an estimated $2 billion from the state’s unfunded retirement liabilities. And when Scott vetoed the measure, they landed unanimous votes to override his veto.
Not every veto override effort was successful. In the final week of session, Krowinski presided over two override attempts that each failed by just one vote.
This year’s session has only just concluded, and no House members have yet said they will challenge Krowinski for the speaker’s position. Up against two competitors, Krowinski won unanimous support from her colleagues for the speakership in December 2020.
2022 Election Briefs
- Update voter registration by Aug. 31 to guarantee mailed ballot, secretary of state says (August 25, 4:15 pm)
- Bernie Sanders endorses David Zuckerman’s bid for lieutenant governor (August 1, 6:14 pm)
- 2nd poll shows Becca Balint well ahead of Molly Gray (August 1, 5:15 pm)
Missing out on the latest scoop? Sign up for Final Reading for a rundown on the day's news in the Legislature.