Sen. Randy Brock: Lawmakers swatted flies as the house burns down

By Randy Brock

Imagine waking up one morning and seeing crumbs all over the floor, dirty dishes in the sink and the house full of flies because someone left the back door open. Which problem should you deal with first? None of the above — because the smoke and flames should have alerted you that the house is on fire.

But, instead of calling the fire department, you sweep up the crumbs, do a load of dishes and grab the fly swatter.

That, in a nutshell, is the 2021 legislative session. We washed the dishes, disposed of some crumbs and swatted a few flies. But we didn’t deal with the urgent and immediate issues that demanded our real attention.

state of Vermont

Senate Minority Leader Randy Brock, R-Franklin

Many of our legislative acts were symbolic. We adjusted the regulations over electric bicycles. We made some technical corrections to state statutes. We concurred with letting non-citizens vote in municipal elections. We created who knows how many study committees, task forces and temporary working groups to analyze the problems that we didn’t solve.

We then spent hundreds of millions of federal recovery dollars using vague criteria and charged the state bureaucracy with figuring out what we actually intended to do.

Sure, we did some very good things, like getting at least some needed COVID-19 relief to struggling businesses. But we failed to articulate a clear strategy for fully implementing the once-in-a-lifetime transformational changes offered by an unprecedented influx of federal recovery money. We made gains in solving the child care crisis and we resisted attempts to alter how we kept our commitments to clean up Lake Champlain. We were able to slightly lower property tax rates. We supported investments in funding to attract visitors and to stimulate their spending. But for all the good, there are some glaring shortfalls.

Instead of seeking ways to make housing more affordable in Vermont, legislative Democrats rejected efforts toward permit reform, tried to add new red tape for rental housing and worked to make it more expensive to hire a handyman. How will that help struggling families looking for a place to live?

Instead of taking a hard look at our unemployment insurance (UI) system, the legislative majority effectively added a $100 million UI tax hike on Vermont’s businesses. And they rejected common-sense measures to recover millions in improper payments and to penalize UI fraud. How will that help our small businesses that are struggling to stay open?

While thousands of Vermonters can see broadband cables from their front windows, the legislature made no effort to help them connect affordably now. Thus, we’ve consigned more parents to park outside of libraries and fast food restaurants in the dead of winter so that their kids can do their online homework. How will that help ensure that no Vermont child is left offline?

Instead of taking steps to bolster our workforce, legislative Democrats spearheaded a bill that would create new hurdles for small construction contractors. At a time when the legislature symbolically supports Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities through resolutions and statements, why would we create more fees and red tape that would keep out these very same small and emerging businesses that are just trying to make a living?

And perhaps most frustratingly, legislative Democrats kicked the can down the road – again — on dealing with Vermont’s public employee pension crisis, costing the state more money and only making the problem even worse next year.

Yes, the Legislature made the actuarily required contributions to our pension system. But we had an opportunity to use a multi-million dollar surplus to pre-pay some of our unfunded liabilities, which would have effectively saved Vermonters $822 million down the road. But House Democrats squashed that opportunity. They opted for yet another study, thus refusing to deal with structural pension reform — something that even Democrat State Treasurer Beth Pearce has called for for years.

Vermont Senate and House Republicans worked tirelessly to try to tackle Vermont’s demographic problem. We need both more workers and more tax-paying citizens. But the majority rejected exempting military retirement pay from state income taxes, thus leaving Vermont as one of only three states that continue this outdated policy. Our Democrat colleagues also tried to add a property transfer tax surcharge on certain expensive homes, reinforcing the message to potential buyers and residents that Vermont wants your tax money, not you.

So if you’re someone who thinks it’s more important to deal with the crumbs and the flies while our house burns to the ground around us, then this legislative session might have been a success. But if — like us– your instinct is to grab the fire extinguisher, then this session was a disappointment.

Next legislative session, let’s not pour gasoline on the fire. Despite how difficult it may be, we must focus directly on the fundamentals and tackle the real challenges above all else. We simply cannot afford to get it wrong.

Randy Brock represents the Franklin District in the Vermont State Senate. He is the Senate Minority Leader. This commentary represents the views of Vermont’s Senate Republicans: Sen. Joe Bennington (R-Caledonia), Sen. Brian Collamore (R-Rutland), Sen. Russ Ingalls (R-Essex-Orleans), Sen. Corey Parent (R-Franklin), Sen. Joshua Terenzini (R-Rutland) and Sen. Rich Westman (R-Lamoille).

Images courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR and state of Vermont

26 thoughts on “Sen. Randy Brock: Lawmakers swatted flies as the house burns down

  1. Have long believed that VT, NH & Maine vote was being stolen *not* that it was migrants from blue states or the blame-gamers villifying the good ppl of VT – now with revelations coming out of Windham NH – first one being that appears voting machines were set to shave 300 votes from each Republican candidate – and they still won – this year likely from the ban on out of state student voting.

    If they could rig voting machines in NH they can do it here – and we allow out of state nonresident students to vote as well as nonresident property owners.

    Fact that most New England states use LHS and same easily-adjustable voting machines – Windham NH is ground zero and we are all Windham NH. Creepy criminal Condos SOS and also creepy deputy Commissar call everyone who questions voting integrity “conspiracy theorists” the aha moment making tip of the iceberg that much easier to see. We need to go back to hand counted paper ballots and voter ID.

    To be a unified voice we need to join a caucus, group and/or party. One of the things we can do is join and support the Republican Party after all a party is ppl. Absent this action it’s all mere blowing of smoke and talk which for the most part is very cheap.

    Spend most of my online time with the great patriots on Gab, also Granit Grok. Uplifting to be where all agree for the most part and comments are intelligent. We need to up our game.

  2. Good commentary, good analysis. Thank you Senator Brock. Perhaps a focus on the issues like pension reform and providing more opportunity not creating more regulation might be a winning strategy going forward.

  3. Why would anything change in Vermont? Nobody puts up a stand. You don’t even have to fight, just call out the clear agenda and stupidity that goes on in our protected wetland known as Montpelier.

    How about this?

    Since when has it been Vermont most pressing issue to have 16 year old voters take the fiscal and legal reins of our state?

    Pray tell, how many dinner conversations have you had with friends where everybody was talking about this injustice? Do some on the street interviews! Outside of the Marxist puppets who want to recreate the hitler youth under the thinly veiled disguise of enviro nazis who would come up,with such and idiotic idea?

    And then have a party vote….IN LOCK STEP for such a ridiculous idea? Does anybody have a brain? Just interview all the “dems”, ask them……..what constituents asked for this? Lol….want to see a swamp,creature in the headlights?

    Nobody does an in person onterview, when you do the results are hysterical, people have no idea how to react because they’ve never, never been asked ANY questions, let alone hard ones or ones that expose what idiotic ideas that get passed.

    Just an fyi all the lobbyists know this nationally and within the state, go to Vermont, you can get anything passed there.

    We are the envy of the criminal world. Cover ups are our forte.

    • Vermont thinks it found truth in the works of Carl Marx. Unkowingly academia from preschool to college, Middlebury no less and UVM ascribe to his philosophy and the refined works of Saul Alinsky.

      These men had a hatred for the actual truth and saw truth as the enemy. Their works were in direct opposition to what brought peace, success and light to western society.

      Our children have no idea about truth. They are not allowed to study in school about truth. They are not taught wisdom. They are not taught how to cope with life challenges, which translates to hopelessness and our high suicide rates. It translates to our broken families. It translates to our most toxic online behavior. It translates to our NIMBY culture. It translates to our worship,of money, power and the being the capital of defie era and liars that we have in Montpelier.

      We are whom and what we worship.

      Lord I ask for your Holy Spirit to fill our state, there are so many others that are praying and asking the same,to enter our hearts so we may find the truth, love and peace in your holy name, in Jesus Christ I pray and ask. Amen.

      • JC said when you pray go into a *closet* – unless it’s a forum perform in solitude don’t virtue-signal by wearing it on sleeve. And its “Karl’ lol

  4. I don’t remember the actual quote, but in essence here’s what George Carlin said “it’s a club and you ain’t a member”. If there were actually any real republicans in the Vermont legislature perhaps there would be a glimmer of hope. I don’t see it. One of my adult children left Vermont years ago, the other is now thinking about it. I am also thinking about selling out and leaving my birth state. After years of disappointment, two steps forward one step back, now I’m a racist and have white privilege, yet everything I have ever accumulated was as a result of my work ethic.

    I’ve gotten to the point that tells me to stop hoping and beating my head against the wall. After 60 plus years, I can’t stand it here much longer. Voter ignorance has ruined this state for me and my children. I love this state but despise the Vermont government. There is no freedom or unity left. To top it off for me was our republican governor (in name only) voted for Joe Biden who is currently destroying the country and is the laughing stock of the world. Through Bernie, Pat and Peter into the mix and this is why nothing here will change. Randy isn’t even from Vermont and while the senate spent it’s last day virtue signaling for the leftist utopia I’ve had enough.

  5. Would have been nice to here unified statement from those in office when the voting mattered.

    Some of the people in the senate, on that list are less than helpful to our republic. There are so many thing people could be doing that don’t cost money and might bring some results to our state.

    There is stability in being a minority and not “being able to do anything”, we tried, we get re-elected, Vermont becomes the first colony of the United Nations.

    “We tried”. At least our dishes will be clean? Is that what we’ll tell our grandchildren?

    • This is the same ‘Republicant’ who presented Senate Resolution 11 ‘honoring the memory of George Floyd designating May 25 as a Day of Remembrance and Action’.

      This State deserves to crash and burn – with useless politicians on both sides, it’s inevitable.

        • Yes, George Floyd who stuck an illegal gun into the belly of a pregnant women and demanded her to tell him where her valuables were or he would kill her unborn baby in a home invasion. Oh, you didn’t see this in the news, right? The day of remembrance to a criminal who’s family was paid $26 million dollars. Who thinks that crime doesn’t pay? And senator Brock has the nerve to criticize the legislature? Look in the mirror.

          • That story is demonstrably made up and untrue. The so called victim’s photo making the rounds was a woman from another part of the world. Check Politofact for openers. Floyd was no gem but nothing like your claim. As to the quality of the work by our legislators they are fair game.

          • Wrong! Either prove it or wire it sir. Didn’t mention the one you are referencing:
            “Between 1997 and 2007, police in Texas arrested Floyd a total of nine times, on charges ranging from drug possession to theft. Then, on Aug. 9, 2007, George Floyd barged into a woman’s home and held a gun to her abdomen in front of her toddler. It was a home invasion, and George Floyd got five years in prison for participating in it.”

            Interesting that Communists are always lurking in the shadows lol

  6. Well, you elect these inept fools year after year, and you wonder why the state
    is in such a pathetic state, agenda-driven politics, concerns for the citizens is
    not on their agenda, just look at their priorities ……wake up people !!

    The circus is in town ” Montpelier “, and the clown bus is full……………..

  7. The Vermont legislature is a reflection of the intelligence and the will of the voters. Vermonters are getting exactly the kind of government they deserve.

    • We are getting the exact legislature that our populace is trained to vote for.

      If you shop the competition, see what is being pumped into the brains via Facebook, Twitter, smartphones, VPR, VT Digger, 7 days, etc, you’ll find a more perfect match.

      We are getting the will of the propagandist,

    • In the days of 1950s & ’60s that may have been true. With the advent of a voting machine that can not only be hacked but has online capabilities and easily ‘customizable’ features that allow for the programming of Republican votes to be docked by the hundreds per candidate assertion is no longer valid sir.

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