HEADLINES : Vermont
Lawmakers Agree To $5 Billion State Budget
The Vermont House and Senate have reached agreement on a roughly $5 billion state budget for next year, a deal that clears the path for the 2012 Legislature to adjourn this weekend.
The negotiators also scrapped controversial provisions, including one that said electricity ratepayers should get money back when the state's largest utility is sold.
The budget deal came late Thursday afternoon, with a handshake between Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Jane Kitchel and her House counterpart, Westford Democrat Martha Heath.
"Do we have a deal? We have a deal! That's wonderful," Heath exclaimed. And after a moment of celebration, Kitchel summed up the mood.
"Must be a sign that it's almost time to go home," she said.
The agreement on the budget is one of the last pieces to fall into place before the 2012 session can adjourn. As part of the negotiations, the Senate side agreed to toss two controversial provisions. The first dealt with a merger between the state's largest utilities. The amendment - added to the Senate's version of the budget - said that ratepayers should get money back when Central Vermont Public Service Corporation is sold. The second, also part of the Senate budget bill, allowed child care workers to form a union and bargain with the state.
Kitchell said her side agreed to give up both provisions because they concerned non-budget items.