"We absolutely need to hire more state workers. I don’t believe that state workers have been treated well by this administration."
Caledonian Record’s summary of the Working Vermont debate:
On prison populations:
All five said that they favor bringing back our out-of-state incarcerated prisoners and paying for them in Vermont jails, which are much more expensive than the jails they are in, by releasing non-violent offenders and increasing drug, alcohol and other programs for current and former offenders.
On teacher job levels:
Secretary of State Deborah Markowitz: "We do not have too many teachers. We do have a problem with education costs. It’s a demographic problem."
On the numbers of state employees:
All five candidates agreed there should be more state employees than there are now – not fewer.
Sen. Susan Bartlett: "I see it every day in [Senate] Appropriations [Committee]. We are too small. We absolutely need to hire more state workers. I don’t believe that state workers have been treated well by this administration. My primary goal would be no more reduction in the state work force."
Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin: "We have cut state employees to the bone. We aren’t delivering the services. We will not cut any more in the Shumlin administration. No more layoffs. They are now demoralized and they have been undermined. In my administration, there will be no layoffs and no reductions in pay for state workers."
On current attempts to control spending:
Former senator Matt Dunne: "It is ‘voodoo budgeting’ and ‘drive-by budgeting.’ Even as state employees have been cut, the number of contractors has increased, the number of temp workers has gone up, and the pay for temps has increased."
On how to give teachers and state workers the respect they have earned instead of blaming them for the state’s fiscal problems:
Senator Douglas Racine: "We can all give them respect. I have been demonstrating that."
On Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, the only Republican gubernatorial candidate and who declined to be part of this forum of Democratic candidates:
Sen. Shumlin: "I can’t imagine in my wildest dreams why Brian Dubie thinks he should get to be governor of the state of Vermont if he won’t talk to Vermonters about why he should get the job"
Lt. Gov. Dubie (responding later): "I look forward to debates. I enjoy debates. But Thursday’s event − although I was invited – was really for Democrats. It’s a primary. For me to insert myself into a primary, even some Democrats might be offended by that. I think I am the only candidate who is a member of a labor union, so it is not that I don’t want to talk about the issues."