VSEA General Counsel’s VTDigger Commentary: Gov’t Shutdown Lessons From Maine

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June 21, 2018  

June 21, 2018  

 

 

VSEA General Counsel Tim Belcher wrote an excellent commentary that posted this morning to VTDigger, advising Vermont officials and lawmakers to learn about the harm of gov’t shutdowns from Maine’s mistakes.

Read Tim’s Commentary Here.

From commentary:  

Many people are hurt by a state shutdown, but most of the pain is felt by state workers and people who rely on government assistance or support. When the Scott administration talks about needing “leverage” in negotiations, he is saying that he needs the power to cause pain to people Democrats care about. If he shuts down government, state workers and others will see their economic lives turned upside down. At best, they will face uncertainty. At worst, people will lose income they were counting on. People who live paycheck to paycheck will fall behind. People will do without. Shutdowns are stressful, difficult and demoralizing events.

When the governor says he wants the leverage of a shutdown to negotiate with the Legislature, he is saying he is ready to cause real economic pain to thousands of Vermonters. The strategy pits teachers against state workers and people who depend on state help, forcing Democrats and Progressives to choose between two core constituencies. Like LePage and McKernan in Maine, he is holding state workers hostage to force an agenda that he can’t win through the legislative process.

When Vermont voters sent Scott to work with this Legislature, they sent a clear message rejecting the scorched-earth politics we see in Washington and other states. If the administration is ready to play this kind of political game with people’s lives, the Republicans in the Legislature need to step in and override his vetoes. Otherwise, voters should hold them accountable in November. Vermont deserves better.

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