House Republicans Pull Their Support for Budget Plan | Off Message

House Republicans Pull Their Support for Budget Plan

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Rep. Peter Fagan (R-Rutland) addressing reporters Friday - ALICIA FREESE
  • Alicia Freese
  • Rep. Peter Fagan (R-Rutland) addressing reporters Friday
Four weeks after heaping uncharacteristic praise on the House budget, Republican lawmakers rescinded their support Friday.

If Gov. Phil Scott rejects the budget, House Minority Leader Don Turner (R-Milton) told reporters, “We stand ready to support and sustain a veto.” More than 30 of his caucus members lined up behind him in the Statehouse’s Cedar Creek Room.

All but one had voted for the budget when it passed the House, so why the turnabout? Republicans are now insisting that Democrats include Scott’s 11th-hour proposal to negotiate a statewide teacher health insurance plan in the budget bill.

Democrats have said they don’t have time to vet the plan, unveiled last Thursday, and they dispute the claim that this is a now-or-never opportunity.

Scott claims the state could reap up to $26 million by taking over negotiations this year. Several members of his administration watched the press event from the back of the room. Spokesperson Rebecca Kelley refused to say whether Scott would actually veto a budget that doesn’t include his health insurance proposal.

Rep. Peter Fagan (R-Rutland), who played a key role developing the budget as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, explained his change of heart at Friday’s press conference: “I don’t want to leave millions, if not tens of millions, of dollars on the table. We need to return that value to the taxpayers who have supported our teachers for such a long time.”

“The timing may not have been ideal but it’s here,” added Rep. Heidi Scheuermann (R-Stowe). “Let’s buck up, get our hands dirty, and figure it out.”

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