Editor’s note: This commentary is by Deb Billado, chairwoman of the Vermont GOP.
Last week, Governor Scott vetoed S.79, the latest attempt by the Montpelier Majority to seize greater control over your lives. The legislation would have created the first-in-the-nation registry of all privately owned homes being rented in Vermont, no matter the duration. House Minority Leader Pattie McCoy (R-Poultney) rightly noted that this bill would have imposed a brand new fee on as many as 80,000 Vermonters — at a time when we’re trying to emerge from an economic and public health crisis. The Governor also noted that this bill would have created “additional restrictions, costs and hoops to jump through” for Vermonters.
Equally egregious is that this legislation would have created 6.5 new bureaucratic positions in state government, with an annual appropriation of $850,000 for pay and benefits. That works out to $130,000 per bureaucrat — an insult to every Vermonter. Rep. McCoy likened this pervasive growth in the size, scope, and intrusion of state government to “a steady flow of lava encroaching upon every one of us.”
She’s right. We only need to look at the growth in the number of state employee positions in Vermont. During the Shumlin administration, the number of state employees increased by nearly 500, undoing all the right-sizing of government that Governor Douglas had implemented as necessary cost savings during the Great Recession of 2009. Since that time, Governor Scott has flattened the growth in state positions.
Unfortunately, we still have far more bureaucrats than we need. Despite the fact that New Hampshire has more than double the population of Vermont, it has just 14 percent more state employees than we do. In fact, for every 100 people, we have nearly twice as many full-time state employees as New Hampshire does. And does anybody seriously think Vermont state government is more efficient or effective?
We have a bureaucracy problem in this state. Thankfully, Vermont Republicans just defeated a bill that would have added to it. But make no mistake: our work is not done in having state government live within its means, just like we do every single day.