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Voices / Letters from readers

Governing with a credit card and a veto

Does Governor Scott want to make Vermont more affordable? Let’s see.

Veto a minimum-wage bill that would put more money in the pockets of tens of thousands of workers. Veto a medical family-leave bill that would help sustain families in a medical emergency.

Just to put icing on the cake, veto a budget that received overwhelming tri-partisan support. A budget that would have, among other fiscally responsible measures, moved our state toward a solution to the education-funding dilemma.

The vote to pass the budget was unanimous in the Senate, and in the House it was 117 to 14! That’s right. His own party overwhelmingly supported the budget bill that he vetoed.

Clearly, these senators and representatives did not make ideologically rigid campaign promises that prevented them from working collaboratively to help their constituents and all Vermonters. But the governor has boxed himself into fiscally irresponsible positions and proposals based on campaign promises. And he’s a Republican, the party that promises fiscal responsibility.

Scott’s governing tactic is to drop bombshell proposals on the Legislature in the last two weeks of the session. He did it last year, and he did it again this year. The Joint Fiscal Office says his budget proposals are riddled with factual errors, including double counting special-education savings and incorrect growth assumptions.

And the basic proposal is the same as last year: defer an increase in taxes until next year. Kick the can down the road — after the election. Use one-time money to keep taxes stable and hope you can pay it all back in five years.

That’s governing on a credit card. It’s very risky, solves nothing, and is bad fiscal policy.

It’s obvious Gov. Scott does not want to work with the Legislature. He hides behind a rigid no-new-taxes-or-fees campaign slogan, refusing to negotiate or compromise. It’s an ideological position created as a sound bite to get elected.

I hope that Vermonters will see that rigid ideological non-negotiable positions are not good for our state. Everyone wants fewer taxes, not promises based on shaky budget assumptions. But we also want to improve the lives of Vermonters.

Lori Claffee

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Originally published in The Commons issue #463 (Wednesday, June 13, 2018). This story appeared on page D3.

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