Governor says S.5 promises echo now-defunct single-payer proposal under Shumlin

Michael Bielawski/TNR

FUEL OIL TO BE TAXED: The essence of the recently passed Affordable Heat Act is that heating fuels will be taxed to subsidize investments in electric heat pumps and other green initiatives.

In an appearance on the “Morning Drive Radio Show” on Thursday, Gov. Phil Scott criticized the newly passed Affordable Heat Act legislation that aims to convert most heating to electricity based on renewable energy sources, with fuel dealers and Vermonters footing the bill.

During the show, a caller to the program said the oft-repeated claim that S.5 will ‘save Vermonters money’ was the same rhetoric used for Obamacare. Scott compared it to the now-abandoned single-payer health care policy attempted in 2014 under Democrat Gov. Peter Shumlin.

“It feels a lot like single-payer [health care] — there are going to be all these savings, everyone is going to make money from this, nobody is going to get hurt, this act is going to save, and so forth and so on,” Gov. Scott responded.

While Shumlin was governor, Vermont attempted to launch the nation’s first single-payer health care system. However, the governor abandoned the effort after lawmakers and the administration failed to come up with enough new taxes to pay for the $2.6 billion plan.

A convoluted ‘check back’ provision

“Morning Drive” host Kurt Wright, a former state lawmaker and Burlington city councilor, asked Scott, “Were you concerned about the conflicting language in the bill about the check back legislative language?” The question  was in reference to a provision included in S.5 that is intended to require additional review by the Vermont Legislature once plans for a clean heat standard are established by the Public Utility Commission (PUC).

“I know that legislators have said that they went to legislative counsel and said look, this language trumps the other language and says that, ‘yes, this will come back to the legislature for an up-or-down vote and have all the normal process.’ There is that other section in there that, I don’t know why it needs to be in there, but it seems to say different,” Wright said.

The governor said he is not convinced that a real legislative check back can ever take place.

“I think they are confused — you look at the language and that’s not what it says,” Scott said. “… Then they should check with the testimony of the Public Utility Commission that went into the legislature and said, ‘You cannot change this, you know it’s either yes or no, you pull out one piece and it all falls apart.’

“They [PUC] are the ones that are designing this and they are saying that is not the case,” Scott added.

A lack of economic impact studies

Wright expressed frustration that he continues to hear that the economic impacts of S.5 haven’t been evaluated yet, even though the bill became law over the governor’s veto.

“It’s been a couple of years now that this has been around. How come nobody has done a projection except poor [Agency of Natural Resources Secretary] Julie Moore?” Wright said. “Thank God she did, and why do we need to check back? It’s been two full years, and why hasn’t any of this stuff been done?”

The governor defended Moore’s projection that the act would add at least 70 cents to the cost of a gallon of heating fuel.

“I heard a lot of complaints about the projections that Julie Moore had put forward,” Scott replied. “She modeled this herself, she’s an engineer, she does this in her professional life, and I have yet to hear anyone else say ‘this is not the number, this is the number.'”

According to the Ethan Allen Institute, the cost will likely be more than twice the $2 billion cost estimated by Secretary Julie Moore, and require a whopping increase of $4 per gallon of heating fuel when the costs of weatherization and heat pumps are included.

Wright said the act’s proponents don’t bother to produce an accurate estimate.

“They won’t do it, they’ve doubled down and refuse to even try to estimate it,” he said.

Wright further suggested that the people who need to be working on the estimates for S.5 are those who work at the Public Utility Commission, which deals directly with utilities and the costs required to run them.

What comes next?

The governor said what comes next is a two-year process in which the Public Utility Commission will work on the implementation of S.5 and report back to a future legislature.

The half-hour long “Morning Drive” program can be heard online here.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Images courtesy of Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons and Michael Bielawski/TNR

8 thoughts on “Governor says S.5 promises echo now-defunct single-payer proposal under Shumlin

  1. I was the person from the public that dared to challenge the cost of single payer at $2 billion, which the Shumlin administration scoffed at until they finally had to admist 3 years later that the $2 billion number was correct. This legislative session the Ethan Allen Institute was able to provide a well-reasoned estimate for the cost of S.5 at somehwere in the $4-5 billion, as opposed to $1 billion. I am sure they, and others, will continue to refine that model to educate Vermonters about the true cost and impact to the fuel tax that will fund it.
    While the enormity of the plan has some aspects in common with Single Payer, at this time with the supermajority things are slightly different now. There will be lots of money coming into VT to help them hold onto these seats and voters have short memories. We are at war with an agenda that is well funded and deeply rooted in the new climate religion and has been moved forward for years.
    This means anyone who really cares about VT must constantly remind our friends and neighbors about what’s at stake. And we must get involved in community groups and neighborhoods to ensure these people are voted out, by supporting other candidates. They are irresponsible and unqualified to represent us and their vote on S.5 demonstrates that. We must not forget and we all need to do our part to become active in this fight. Or, leave.

    • What is the source for the “money” coming into Vermont? Considering the reality of the US Treasury and Federal Reserve illusion of “everything is fine,” everthing is certainly not fine. No matter the lawfare imposed by the despots in Montpelier, they simply pull figures out of their backside and insist taxpayers will pay for it. All of the “official” statistical numbers they cite are fake. The only thing keeping the system going is people believe their lies and deception. The implosion is happening. There is no voting our way out of this – no way, no how. I respect what you are saying. The reality is they can say or do whatever they want for the time being, the boomerang is coming and there is nothing they can do to stop it. The best people can do is prepare and get their houses in order.

  2. I’m sorry, but roping Shumlin and the single-payer scam is a deceptive example. The single-payer healthcare was modeled on Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts Healthcare reform Act in 2006. Afterward, Mitt packed his money bags and headed for Utah. Phil was Lt. Governor under Shumlin (2011-2017) and Washington County Senator (2001-2011.) Add onto it, Phil’s appointments as Governor (2017-to date) are largely responsible for the hosing we face now. His hands are just as dirty now as they were then. The panderer-in-charge is an outright liar and deceiver. I know his fanboys will jump to his defense, only because their stock portfolio mirrors Phil’s and a majority of the general assembly. They all lead us down this road to ruin while they profiteer on their policies and regulations. Corrupt to the core for decades!

  3. Like the cost for transportation falls on the internal combustion auto owners, the cost of the climate hoax will fall on fuel oil users. What ever happened to every one sharing the load? Oh yeah leftist commies have a cast system where the blind followers are rewarded and the peons in dissension are taxed into submission. Isn’t life grand in the leftist commie utopia of Commiemont…Well at least until all the worker bees leave.

  4. The only way this will be stopped, is to make sure the legislature that passed it is NOT the same two years from now! We have to vote out this super-majority before it does anymore damage.

    • Actually my leftist rep said she was getting a lot of emails saying enjoy your first year it’s going to be your last. One can only hope this is the true feelings among the majority of voters next cycle.

      • she also blindly followed the pack in overriding the veto while claiming she didn’t blindly do it. Ya right…

Comments are closed.