Vermont Governor Phil Scott spoke about recent challenges the state has faced including the pandemic and flooding, while noting the courage of Vermonters is as strong as ever. He then discussed the need to work together to address persistent problems such as demographics, housing, affordability, and recent increases in violence and crime.
Key Speech Highlights:
Demographics – Highlighted demographic challenges facing the state including less students, fewer working adults, and an aging population. The governor talked about how this can lead to higher per pupil costs, declines in income and sales tax revenue, and increased demand for services like healthcare. He added the state must address public safety, affordability, and housing to help reverse demographic trends.
Budget – Said they will have to make difficult decisions in this year's budget due to one-time federal aid ending, a large increase in the pension obligation, and the impact of last year's spending decisions, while adding the state will have to live within its means.
Public Safety – Talked about the need to consider new strategies to reduce crime rates, while acknowledging progress on justice reform and treating addiction as a public health crisis.
Education – Spoke about the growing cost of the education system and called for examining possible solutions such as additional consolidation or classroom size targets, addressing healthcare and retirement costs, moving to a statewide teacher contract, or capping property tax growth.
Housing – Discussed efforts to fix vacant units, construct new homes, and expand shelter capacity. Noted the state must do more to jumpstart housing in areas that need it most, including examining old regulations.
Recent Investments – Talked about recent initiatives to help revitalize communities with the aid of one-time federal funds, and the need to use state funds to help build on that work.
Community Service – Highlighted the work of Vermonters to support and revitalize their communities, and called on everyone to think about how they can contribute.