(Host) Governor Jim Douglas made a political appearance in Johnson Wednesday morning in support of Republican State Senate candidate Jim Black. Black is running against Democrat Susan Bartlett, who chairs the Appropriations Committee.
Early this year Governor Douglas rolled out an ambitious plan to establish college scholarships designed to encourage young Vermonters to study and work here, rather than migrating out-of-state. Senator Bartlett declared that plan dead on arrival because Douglas wanted to use tobacco settlement money to fund it, while she and most other Democrats thought those funds should be restricted to health care expenditures.
Douglas said on Wednesday he was right on the funding plan.
(Douglas) “I believe that the mechanism I proposed was ideal. It was in essence found money. It was money that most legislators didn’t even know was there, because it was an increase in the tobacco settlement payment stream for a ten-year period. So it was an ideal funding source and I still think it’s the best one.”
(Host) Senator Bartlett still thinks lawmakers will balk at using tobacco money for scholarships, even if she loses her re-election campaign.
(Bartlett) “I’m quite sure [that] even if I weren’t there, the House and the Senate are not going to use tobacco fund money for anything except to help with paying for the health care, and the Medicaid deficit.”
(Host) State Senator Susan Bartlett added that the Medicaid deficit could be as low as $8 million, rather than the $40 million projected early in the year.