My vote for governor
The following statement was released on Wednesday, Jan. 7 as the legislative session began. On Thursday, Governor Peter Shumlin was elected back into office with 110 votes to Scott Milne’s 69. Dan Feliciano received none of the votes.
The start of the 2015 session of the Vermont Legislature began Wednesday, Jan. 7. The next day, the House and Senate together were tasked with electing the governor since no candidate received at least 50 percent of the vote. Although I received about a dozen emails and phone calls asking me to vote for Scott Milne, I responded essentially as follows:
I realize that there is a lot of discontent on many fronts among Vermonters. Property taxes have been increasing at an unsustainable rate. There has been a lot of concern about the plan for universal health care. The problems with the VT Health Connect website and support have been frustrating for many folks. While the economy has been improving, most people have not yet gotten back to where they were in 2008 before the bank failures drove us into the recession.
However, the economy is coming back. We have grown a strong renewable energy industry in Vermont that has created more than 15,000 good paying jobs. We have expanded opportunities for our high school students to obtain college credit for courses they take in their senior year, thereby reducing college expenses for them. We have a 95 percent high school graduation rate. We have pioneered model legislation to prevent patent trolling that has been adopted by 17 other states since our action. We are making progress in treating people who are suffering from addiction by timely intervention when they are apprehended for related crimes. We have built out broadband access to the internet and wireless phone capability across 94 percent of Vermont. We raised the minimum wage for hardworking Vermonters. These and many others are not accomplishments to be overlooked.
I cast my vote for Gov. Shumlin because, despite the close election, 1) he got the most votes statewide, 2) he got 52 percent of the votes in Charlotte versus 41 percent for Milne, and 3) in my opinion he has done a good job overall for Vermont during his tenure.
Democracy means that the top vote getter wins. Speculation as to what might have happened if a circumstance was different, e.g. Feliciano didn’t run or the single payer numbers were released earlier, is just that: speculation. There have been differences of opinion between Gov. Shumlin and the legislature (including me) on some policy issues, and there still are. However, I did not hear anything substantial from Scott Milne that persuaded me that he would do a better job than Peter Shumlin.
I assure you that my colleagues and I have already committed to revising the education funding mechanism to reduce the burden on property taxes. We will get this done during this session. Also, although the plan for a single payer health care system envisioned by Act 48 has been put on hold by Gov. Shumlin, the legislature will continue to look at alternative steps we can take to insure that all Vermonters have access to health insurance. This includes controlling costs, promoting preventative care, and eliminating the cost-shift that we are already paying for in our insurance premiums. I’m looking forward to the hard work on these and other issues in the months ahead.