The Caledonia Record
Gov. Peter Shumlin is seeking re-election. To his credit, state budgets have been balanced for two years. The state government's response to Tropical Storm Irene was praiseworthy (albeit because state officials on the ground, in large part, ignored numerous regulations to get the job done). He is an intelligent and articulate man with leadership skills, blessed with a compliant Legislature that can be counted upon to give him what he wants.
On the other hand, Shumlin has shown a troublesome high handedness and arrogance in imposing his will upon Vermonters. He is given to saying things only very loosely connected to the truth when his political interests are at stake.
Shumlin told the legislature that FEMA had agreed to send $100 million to Vermont to help pay for Irene. It turned out that FEMA had said only that it would think about sending money. Amazingly, Shumlin blurted out that he would "outsmart the feds" and score millions of dollars for the Vermont State Hospital. Did he think that the Federal bureaucrat with the money wouldn't hear that and take exception?
Shumlin has claimed that a dollar invested in universal preschool yields a return of seven dollars later on (earlier he had claimed $12 to $14). It turned out that there was nothing to back up this claim, which almost certainly isn't true.
Shumlin contrived to snatch $21 million due to the ratepayers of Central Vermont Public Service Company when he managed its merger into Green Mountain Power. This was his backhanded scheme for channeling more money into his pet state programs. When the AARP objected, he touted the "societal benefits" over giving ratepayers their money back, and dismissed his critics for "quibbling."
Shumlin told the Legislature to "rebase" the education fund transfer formula to shift $27.5 million from paying education costs to spending programs he liked more. Then he signed the bill to increase the homestead and business property tax rates to raise the missing money.
The Shumlin tax department reinterpreted the tax law to impose a new tax on "cloud computing," that threatened precisely the kind of clean, high-paying jobs everyone wants to attract.
Shumlin also signed bills increasing taxes on hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, insurance claims, use value property transfer, and liquor and cigarette sales.
Shumlin has repeatedly proclaimed himself a champion of "local control," while supporting pressure for local school districts to dissolve to form super regional education districts. There is an argument for school regionalization, but certainly not in the name of "local control." Let it be remembered that he was an avid partisan of Act 60, which in one grand convulsion in 1997 put all of our school districts under the thumb of the Board and Commissioner in Montpelier.
Shumlin won headlines for his support for public school choice, but then went AWOL while the teachers union and its allies wrote an unworkable bill that lets the sending school enjoy all of the tax benefit for students who have chosen to go elsewhere.
Shumlin and Speaker Shap Smith ballyhooed "Challenge for Change" to produce a leaner, more efficient state government. It failed, and now state government staffing and salaries are inching back up. Shumlin quickly gave back the 3 percent pay cuts the state employees union agreed to give up in 2009.
Shumlin's eternal and increasingly ridiculous war against Vermont Yankee has completely failed, and last February a Federal judge enjoined Shumlin from any further attempts to shake down Entergy for cheap electricity in return for allowing it to exist.
Shumlin's fanatic belief in "climate change" has rigged high prices for and showered subsidies on renewable energy producers, at the expense of ratepayers. His goal of "90% renewable electricity by 2050" promises to continue those unjustified mandates and subsidies for 38 years into the future.
Last but not least, Shumlin's commitment to taxpayer-financed single payer Green Mountain Care is on track to put state government in charge of $6 billion in health spending by 2017, of which as much as $3 billion will have to come from suffering Vermont taxpayers.
Sadly Shumlin also fought -- as a senator and as governor -- to keep the single payer tax requirements secret until after this year's election. Now his administration says it will flout even that law and keep the tax bite secret until after the 2014 election as well.
We hope and believe that most Vermonters want a Governor who is capable, principled, forthright, honest, and more concerned about the future liberty and prosperity of the people of our state than his own political advancement. We'll give Peter Shumlin credit for "capable," but that's about as far as any rational person can go. Surely Vermont can do better.
(Tomorrow... the better choice.)