Disappointed With Govenor’s Veto

Opinion / Jun. 15, 2017 8:42am EDT

I am writing in regard to Gov. Scott’s recent veto of the Vermont state budget. In April, he proposed to shift the negotiation of teacher’s health insurance from the local level to the state level. This shift, he said, would amount to an estimated $26 million in savings but would deny teachers the right to bargain with their employer for that particular benefit.

The legislative leadership, disagreeing with his proposal to limit bargaining rights, sent him multiple proposals that would have achieved equivalent savings, if not more. When the budget came to a vote in the House and the Senate it passed 143-1 and 30-0, respectively, meaning that Democrats, Republicans and Progressives came together on this issue. And yet, he vetoed.

Scott ran for office billed as a Republican willing to work across the aisle. I am dismayed to see him now fall into lockstep with other governors who systematically work to strip collective bargaining rights. Faisal Gill, chair of the Vermont Democratic Party, summed up his action best when he said, “It is abundantly clear that this veto isn’t about saving taxpayer dollars; it’s about flexing political muscle. . .”

Unions are responsible for the development of the middle class, the economic backbone of this country. As their power has been eroded over the past 40-odd years, so too has the middle class. Unions are important because they not only bargain on behalf of their members, they also lobby the legislature and congress for policy and law that universally benefit children, families and nonunion workers. This is necessary work to counteract the interest of big business with its emphasis on profit over people.

I am asking the governor to do the right thing. Step up and be both a Republican governor and a good Vermonter. It is fine to demand fiscal responsibility but, please, set aside partisan politics. Accept the hard bipartisan work of the Vermont legislature and approve the state budget with teacher’s collective bargaining rights intact.

Anne Leeds

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