Governor

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Scott: Trump looking to tone down immigration rhetoric

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott said he believes Republican President Donald Trump is looking to walk back his rhetoric on immigration after attending meetings with the president on Sunday and Monday. Scott was in Washington, D.C., over the weekend and into Monday for a National Governors Association meeting. Scott attended the annual Governor’s Ball at the White House on Sunday evening, as well as a meeting at the White House with the president Monday morning. The White House events were a first for Scott, who told reporters last week that he had never before visited the famed building, even as a tourist. Scott has emerged as one of the president’s most vocal critics when it comes to immigration policy among the Republican governors. Continue Reading →

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Listen: Capital Beat podcast 2.24.17

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Seven Days reporter Alicia Freese joins Vermont Press Bureau chief Neal Goswami and Vermont Public Radio political reporter Peter Hirschfeld this week. Topics include the canceling of a much-anticipated legislative recount of the Orange-1 House district race, the role of Gov. Phil Scott’s chief of staff and more. Continue Reading →

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Senate passes bill to limit Trump’s executive orders

MONTPELIER — The Vermont Senate advanced a bill on a unanimous vote Thursday that aims to keep state, county and local law enforcement agencies from helping federal authorities enforce immigration laws. All 30 senators — including seven Republicans — voted in favor of the legislation, sending it to a final vote Friday. The bill was crafted by Republican Gov. Phil Scott, Democratic Attorney General T.J. Donovan and lawmakers in response to a series of executive orders signed by President Donald Trump regarding immigration enforcement and border security. The bill grants the governor sole authority to approve agreements that would, in effect, deputize state, county or local police officers to enforce federal immigration law. One of the president’s executive orders calls for such agreements to help federal authorities. Continue Reading →

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Lawmakers seek reworked budget

MONTPELIER — Leaders of the House and Senate are delicately rejecting the governor’s budget proposal as they hunker down on crafting a spending plan of their own that is likely to include budget cuts and, perhaps, some new revenue. Gov. Phil Scott released his budget proposal last month, which addressed the state’s projected $70 million budget hole in the 2018 fiscal year by moving some general fund obligations to the education fund. The proposal relies on local school districts level-funding their 2018 fiscal year budgets to avoid a massive increase in property taxes. But lawmakers have already rejected one key portion of Scott’s proposal — moving school budget votes from Town Meeting Day to May 23. The Senate Education Committee and the full House held votes rejecting the change in the voting date. Continue Reading →

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Holcombe to stay at Agency of Education

MONTPELIER — Republican Gov. Phil Scott announced Monday that he is re-appointing Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe, who was previously appointed by former Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin. Holcombe is the final cabinet-level appointment for Scott, who took office on Jan. 5. Scott had asked the State Board of Education to launch a search for an education secretary as part of the transition from the Shumlin administration to the Scott administration. The board provided the governor with three recommendations, including Holcombe, who was first appointed by Shumlin in January 2014. Continue Reading →

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Scott administration discourages fraternizing with lawmakers, lobbyists

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott and a top aide are directing administration officials and staff in the governor’s office to avoid fraternizing with lawmakers and lobbyists at restaurants and bars during the legislative session. Chief of Staff Jason Gibbs said the “informal directive” was relayed to most people hired or appointed by the governor as Scott worked on putting his administration together. “When folks are hired they’re encouraged to exercise great discretion, particularly as it relates to going out in Montpelier during the legislative session and participating in after-hours activities,” Gibbs told the Vermont Press Bureau. Gibbs said he discussed the idea with the governor prior to Scott taking office last month and both agreed that staff and appointees should be directed to limit their after-hours interactions. “It was a conversation that started between me and him about whether we wanted to provide some guidance to members of the team about the governor’s expectation for their participation in the after-hours scene associated with the legislative process,” Gibbs said. Continue Reading →

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Listen: Capital Beat Podcast 2.10.17

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VTDigger’s Mark Johnson joins Vermont Press Bureau chief Neal Goswami and Vermont Public Radio political reporter Peter Hirschfeld on the Capital Beat Podcast. Topics this week include legislation aimed at standing up to executive orders signed by President Donald Trump and Gov. Phil Scott’s proposed budget. Continue Reading →

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Vermont officials push back on Trump orders with legislation

MONTPELIER — Vermont state officials flexed their muscles Thursday, unveiling proposed legislation to prevent law enforcement agencies in Vermont from cooperating with federal authorities on immigration enforcement in response to executive orders from Republican President Donald Trump. Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, appeared at a news conference Thursday with Democratic Attorney General T.J. Donovan and a tri-partisan group of lawmakers from both the House and Senate in an extraordinary show of cooperation. They worked collaboratively to craft legislation they say will address the federal government’s “overreach” in a series of executive orders signed by the president. Scott has emerged as one of the highest-profile Republican governors to buck Trump’s efforts to boost immigration enforcement and enhance border security. “We can’t pick and choose what pieces of the Constitution we defend and that is why we are here today,” the governor said. Continue Reading →

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Scott administration moves forward with all-payer test case

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott is moving forward with a year-long pilot program that will serve as “a test session” for the all-payer model championed by former Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin. Scott, a Republican, announced the launch of a year-long pilot program that will include about 30,000 Medicaid patients in Vermont in an accountable care organization called OneCare Vermont. The agreement with OneCare will set a global budget of about $93 million for the 30,000 Medicaid patients who will receive care from a coalition of four hospitals, independent practices and other health care providers that are part of the ACO. “My administration is committed to making health care more affordable and accessible for all Vermonters,” Scott told reporters at a news conference Wednesday. “This agreement allows us to gauge the impacts of an all-payer model designed to reward value, meaning low cost and high-quality care, rather than volume under a one-year pilot program.”

An Accountable Care Organization is a group of doctors, hospitals and other health care providers that come together to provide coordinated care for a specific set of patients. Continue Reading →

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House rejects key plank in governor’s budget

MONTPELIER — Republican Gov. Phil Scott’s budget proposal suffered a potentially fatal blow Friday as the House voted to reject his plan to move school budget votes to May 23. The House voted on an amendment to an underlying education bill from the Senate. It called for moving local school budget votes from Town Meeting Day in March to May 23, as Scott called for in his budget address last month. Scott was looking to provide more time for local school districts to find a way to level fund 2018 fiscal year budgets at 2017 fiscal year levels, which he wants the Legislature to mandate. But the House voted 47 to 87, largely on party lines, against the amendment sponsored by Barre City independent Rep. Paul Poirier, who himself was against the idea. Continue Reading →

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