Politics

Kitty Toll, chair of House Appropriations, will not seek reelection

Rep. Kitty Toll, D-Danville, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, at the Statehouse in Montpelier on Tuesday, February 25, 2020. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

Rep. Kitty Toll, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, will not seek reelection.

Toll, D-Danville, announced on Saturday that she had decided not to run for another term. She has served in the Legislature for 12 years.

Toll said nothing in particular had prompted her decision to retire from the Legislature, but she’d been considering it for a few years. Another former representative once told her, “you know when it’s time.”

“I just feel like it’s the right time,” she said.

While the Legislature would ordinarily have wrapped up its work for the year by late May, lawmakers — particularly those on the budgeting committees — still face several busy months ahead as the state grapples with the fiscal blow of the coronavirus crisis.

House Appropriations has already finished work on a bill to adjust the budget for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. Next, the Legislature will pass a budget for the first quarter of fiscal year 2021. Then lawmakers will return later in the summer to pass a fiscal package for the remainder of the year — in hopes that by then they’ll have a more complete picture of the outlook for state revenues.

Toll said she’ll have time to address priorities through the end of this year and set the stage for when lawmakers return for the 2021 session. By December, Toll said, lawmakers will have appropriated the $1.25 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds from the CARES Act.

Neither the pandemic nor the unusual legislative working conditions that resulted from it led to Toll’s decision to leave, she said Sunday. Lawmakers have been meeting remotely by Zoom since March to prevent the spread of the virus.

Toll has led the House Appropriations Committee since 2016. Her sister, Sen. Jane Kitchel, D-Caledonia, heads the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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Toll, who joined the appropriations panel in 2010 after serving on House Agriculture, said she is particularly proud of the effort to set aside reserve funds during her time on the committee, which some analysts say put Vermont in a better position than other states during the crisis.

“Our financial outlook is concerning, but our reserves at least will help soften the blow a bit,” she said.

She does not have any plans after her term ends.

Toll is the latest representative to announce her departure from the House. Longtime Reps. Johannah “Joey” Donovan and Mary Sullivan, both D-Burlington, announced that they would not run for reelection earlier this spring.

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Elizabeth Hewitt

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