MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Gov. Phil Scott vetoed a bill Monday that had given unanimous preliminary approval last week by both the House and Senate to reform the state’s pension system.
In a sharply worded veto message on Monday, Vermont's Republican governor said he felt the legislation did not include enough structural change ”to solve the enormous unfunded liability problems the state faces.”
Scott said he felt it was unfortunate his veto will likely be easily overridden because he felt “Vermont taxpayers and State employees who will bear the burden in the future.”
The measure was given unanimous preliminary last week by both the House and Senate. Final approval in both chambers was done on voice votes.
Last week Democratic House Speaker Jill Krowinski said the legislation would gives teachers and state employees the “peace of mind that they will have their hard-earned pension when they retire, and will save millions of dollars for Vermont taxpayers in the future.”
The pension reform plan was negotiated over months by a task force.
The legislation outlines a series of steps to fully fund the retirement system, including having future retirees pay more into the system and invests more into the system now.
Scott had called for making it possible for new state employees to opt into a defined contribution pension program that would enable those employees to take the retirement package with them if they left state government.
In a statement, Don Tinney, the president of the Vermont-NEA teachers union called the governor's veto “unfortunate.”
“Today’s veto is an affront to teachers, an affront to state employees, and an affront to (state police) troopers who all worked with lawmakers and a high-ranking member of the governor’s own cabinet to craft this bill in months of open — and publicly available — meetings over the last year," Tinney said.