“We are beginning to see the fruits of investments and critical retirement reforms,” Vermont Treasurer Beth Pearce said in a statement Friday.
The vote was 148-0. The Senate voted to override the governor’s veto — also unanimously — on Wednesday. This is the first time a veto has been unanimously overridden in both chambers in state history, according to the House speaker’s office.
Republicans joined Democrats and Progressives to advance the measure by a vote of 30-0 on Wednesday morning. The House is scheduling its override vote for Friday.
The bill now returns to the Senate, which is expected to concur with the House’s changes and send the bill to Gov. Phil Scott. But it’s unknown whether the governor will let the bill pass into law without his signature, sign it or veto it.
Unions and Democratic leadership in the House and Senate say it’s far too late for Scott to start making demands after sitting out over a year’s worth of debate and discussion about Vermont’s multi-billion dollar pension shortfalls.
Both sides will pay in more, but the deal is ultimately expected to cut the state’s future debts by about $1.7 billion, according to the treasurer’s office.
We must create different plan structures for newly hired state employees and teachers. Otherwise, the unfunded liabilities will continue growing at an unsustainable rate.
We measured 30-year unfunded liabilities against 30-year personal income (the best measure for revenue capacity) for all 5,000 state and local pension plans. These liabilities equal about 0.6% of personal income. In Vermont this figure is 0.4%.
It is long past time for policymakers to think outside the box with innovative solutions instead of repeating the same failed policies of the past that got us into this mess.
Closing in on a pension deal, maybe. Who’s entering LG and Senate races, probably. Suit jackets on Zoom, definitely.
Both sides are making concessions. Employees are agreeing to modest benefit reductions and to higher contributions, while lawmakers are offering $200 million in one-time money to pay down the system’s debts as well as 50% of any general fund surpluses going forward.
While they may be conducting their legislative business remotely from home for the third consecutive year, lawmakers have a lot of work cut out for them in 2022’s legislative session.
Big pension liabilities are just one item on a long list of state spending proposals.
For public-sector labor unions, who are trying to stave off the prospect of deep pension cuts as lawmakers contemplate new ways to tackle the system’s growing debts, the timing could not be better.