Louder than words

Many Democrats erroneously assumed the Republican governor would pursue the open lines of communication as his predecessors did. By vetoing the budget, Phil Scott did not negotiate in good faith.

BRATTLEBORO — There's an old saying and, like a lot of old sayings, there is a lot of truth to it: Actions speak louder than words.

That axiom comes to mind when House and Senate Democrats reflect on the last session, which, unfortunately, hasn't ended yet because Governor Phil Scott vetoed the budget.

As a result, the Legislature plans to convene again on June 21 and 22 and attempt to reach a compromise that will avert our state government's shutdown.

During his tenure as lieutenant governor, Phil Scott appeared to be a moderate Republican. He also appeared to be a middle-of-the-road Republican throughout his gubernatorial campaign.

Consequently, many Democrats assumed he would pursue the open lines of communication characteristic of Vermont's governors.

That did not happen.

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During his inaugural address, the governor said he would sign a budget that was balanced and did not raise new taxes or fees.

The budget passed by the House and Senate - just one vote short of unanimous support - achieves both goals. It lowers property taxes for working Vermonters. And it balances the budget without raising any new taxes or fees.

In addition, the budget the House and Senate developed invests $100 million in affordable housing statewide, fosters mental-health-care improvements, bolsters higher education, and supports child care.

Those were all priorities Vermonters called for during the last election. The Legislature, led by Democrats, delivered a budget that addresses Vermonters' concerns.

So what is wrong with this picture? Everything.

Cleary, Phil Scott is playing politics with Vermonters. He has vetoed the budget, ostensibly over an idea his administration sprang on the Legislature during the final weeks of the session, when there was insufficient time to carefully vet it.

What is particularly troubling about his proposal is the fact that it takes local control - a value Vermonters have repeatedly shown they support - from school boards and school staff.

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Perhaps worst of all, the governor did not negotiate in good faith.

Democratic leaders from both the House and Senate put multiple proposals on the table to ensure an equal amount of savings for Vermont taxpayers as Scott's proposal. And both bodies' leadership teams were more than willing to meet him halfway.

Scott ran his campaign claiming to be a leader who was committed to working across the aisle. By refusing to work with legislative leadership and refusing to play by the rules that have historically underpinned politics in Vermont, he has proven that his words were just empty campaign rhetoric.

So as the Legislature prepares to reconvene, Vermont voters need to ask themselves some questions.

Who is the real Phil Scott? And what does he really stand for?

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