This commentary is by John LaBarge, of Grand Isle. He is a former state representative and House Republican leader.
I grew up in Burlington as a third generation Vermonter. I became aware of politics at an early stage in my life and I served in the legislature for 10 years. During my tenure I was minority whip for four years and majority leader for two years before retiring my seat.
I can honestly say the supermajority currently in Montpelier is by far the most arrogant group of elected officials I have ever seen. They have made it clear that they are not there to listen to Vermont residents, they are not there to help the lower and middle income Vermonter or seniors on fixed incomes. They are not there to try and make Vermont affordable for everyone. It’s clearly obvious they are there to pass their big government, cradle-to-grave agenda for the special interest groups that provide them with funding and political power and to hell with anyone else.
They passed a free school lunch program that provides free breakfast and lunch to all students, even though many parents can afford to pay for their children’s meals. They say free lunches for all “won’t cost taxpayers that much” though.
They passed a family leave act that will require funding from now on, but it will only tax employers and employees a small amount. It “won’t cost much.”
They passed $20 million in new transportation fees even though the agency did not request fee increases, and as of this March, the state revenue report shows the transportation fund is 23.1% higher than last year at this time — so why do we need a fee increase? Don’t worry, it “won’t cost Vermonters much.”
Now they are ready to override Gov. Phil Scott’s veto of S.5, the Affordable (wink-wink) Heat Act that will cost Vermonters higher fuel cost and personal expenditures of large amounts to comply with the bill. It requires large programs to fund, more full-time state employees, more oversight committees, and the expenses they are paid. They are so arrogant the speaker of the House’s chief of staff just said in an interview with VTDigger: “The House will override the veto, full stop. There’s not a question in my mind.” Translated, this means the supermajority will all fall in line and vote lock step to override. The heck with their constituents — it won’t cost them much and it’s for their own good.
The kicker is now the supermajority is entertaining a major legislative pay increase which will include a stipend during the months they are not in session, along with benefits. Full time professional legislature here we come! Don’t worry, though, it “won’t cost Vermonter taxpayers much.” Besides, it will be worth it to have us here all year and well paid.
Vermont voters need to wake up and fast. We can’t afford these arrogant people who have taken over our state capital and call themselves “representatives.” Who are they representing? The supermajority listens to no one other than the special interest groups and their lobbyists. They negotiate with no one and ignore a governor elected by nearly 70% of Vermonters, treating him like he is just an irritating rash.
The arrogant, “we know best” attitude that has now consumed our Legislature is by far the worse in Vermont’s history, and will sadly remain if Vermont voters continue to vote the way they have.