Maybe he’s pulling a Tom Salmon, and planning to run as a Republican next year.
Nah, I doubt it. But it’d explain the sudden, aggressive, and decisively centrist re-insertion of himself into legislative debates. At the very last minute. After months of serenely floating above it all, and letting lawmakers shred his proposals to pieces.
The latest comes from VTDigger’s Anne Galloway, who tells us that the top Senators on taxes and spending were yanked into the Governor’s office yesterday afternoon to get an earful of his displeasure with the current budget and tax bills. According to Galloway, he “hates the tax bills from the House and Senate and would prefer to cut more from the budget.”
While it’s the governor’s prerogative to influence the legislative process and ultimately sign or veto the legislation, Shumlin’s down-to-the-wire timing perplexed insiders who say the governor has had four months to influence the budget and tax bills, and has not made a concerted effort to do so until now.
… “Disrespectful” was a word several people used to described Shumlin’s late-game tactics.
He certainly seems to have adopted a scorched-earth approach toward his relationship with the Legislature — after promising, after the 2014 election, an open and collaborative approach. You know. that listening and learning stuff.
In addition to hectoring top Senators, there’s also his late-session lobbying for the long-dead payroll tax. And his insistence on a November 1 deadline for Vermont Health Connect, even as legislative leaders plan to re-evaluate VHC after June 1 if a key function isn’t up and running.
I’d also mention his comments last Friday on VPR, slamming tax-reform ideas emerging from the House and Senate. He came out strongly against a cap on itemized deductions, and was equally vehement about expanding the sales tax to include services while cutting the sales tax rate.
What’s next? “Hey, you kids, get off my lawn”?
If he is positioning himself for a re-election bid in 2016, the only thing I can think is that he’s trying to out-Phil Scott Phil Scott. He wouldn’t call himself a Republican per se, but he seems to have thrown in the towel on winning back the liberal base.
Problem is, if given a choice between a stained, wounded, and arrogant “Phil Scott” and the real Phil Scott, the voters would elect the latter in a landslide.