Past Legislative Leader Pens Letter Blasting Some Lawmakers Reluctance To Find New Revenue Source For Pensions

December 8, 2021

In advance of Thursday’s important meeting of the State Pension Task Force–and with knowledge of Rep. Copeland-Hanzas’ steadfast opposition to a new revenue stream to help fund state employee, teacher, and trooper pension plans–past gubernatorial candidate and legislative leader Doug Racine penned this excellent letter to VTDigger:

VTDigger’s recent report on the work of the Legislature’s pension committee shows many members who seem determined to break promises made over the years to public employees.

They continue to insist that cuts in pensions must be made instead of finding new revenues. Some are now hiding behind the governor’s opposition to new taxes.

Why not do what is right by keeping commitments and then letting the governor either sign or veto? Instead, they seem ready to let him off the hook.

The Legislature is developing a habit of overpromising and underdelivering, mostly out of a fear of raising taxes on the wealthiest among us or doing the hard work of finding savings in the budget by making government more efficient and effective.

Last year, there was much celebration about a long-term commitment to significantly increase support for child care — in the future, without a long-term funding source. I fear the sincere attempt to help Vermont’s families will become just another easy and ultimately empty promise to be broken when it comes time to pay the bills.

The threat of cutting promised retirement benefits is leading many public employees to take early retirement and leaving many of the rest feeling demoralized. Cynicism about government and politicians is increasing. The work of teachers and state employees is being devalued and disrespected. And the end result will be greater inequality as working people continue to lose ground.

Doug Racine

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