Phil Scott would like a more convenient governorship

“Leadership” is a touchstone of the Phil Scott campaign, repeated ad nauseam as if the more often you say it, the more true it becomes. And from what I can tell of his plans for the governor’s office, his version of “leadership” involves tipping the balance of power in his favor.

Whether that’s a good thing or not, I can’t say; but I doubt he’s going to openly campaign on the idea that the governor needs more power.

Here’s what I’m talking about.

First, his proposal for a 90-day limit on legislative sessions. Assuming he means 90 calendar days rather than business days, the legislature would adjourn in early April. Unless they continue to recess for Town Meeting Week, in which case either (1) it’s not really 90 days, or (b) recess wouldn’t come until mid-April, which isn’t all that different from the current session length.

But let’s say that his intent is to have legislative sessions largely (or entirely) confined to January through March. In which case, lawmakers have significantly less time to finish their business. That means fewer bills passed and less legislative oversight of the executive branch.

Also under his plan, the governor would possess the authority to reconvene the legislature in extraordinary circumstances. Which means if the governor doesn’t want a special session, there isn’t one.

That’s a measurable power shift away from the citizen Legislature, no? And since Phil Scott supposedly doesn’t have a political bone in his body, I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that while the governorship might be within the Republicans’ grasp, the Democrats appear to have huge structural advantages in maintaining control of the Legislature. I’m sure it’s purely coincidence that, if elected, he would shift power away from the Democratic body and toward the Republican.

We continue. His plan for a two-year budget cycle, which has been panned by VTGOP Guru Emeritus Jim Douglas*, would give the Legislature half as many cracks at budget-writing — and make the governor’s job easier because he’d only have to prepare a budget every other year.

*Vermont used to have a two-year budget cycle… “It was abandoned because, frankly, the legislature found themselves amending the budget so much in the interim,” Douglas said.

Those are the plans he has publicly touted. But then you add this: Scott has been a proponent of four-year terms for governor. According to a source, he did so at a meeting with members of an advocacy group. A single anonymous source wouldnt prove the point, except for this: in 2012, Scott penned an opinion piece calling for four-year terms for governor.

At the time, the Legislature was considering a Constitutional amendment to lengthen the terms of all statewide officeholders. Scott backed the measure, “even if it’s just for the governor’s office.” His essay cites arguments pertaining only to the governor, not to other officials.

Well, if the governor only has to campaign every fourth year and everyone else is on a two-year cycle, then who has the upper hand?

The guy with more job security, that’s who.

Then there’s his advocacy for greater transparency in government. His agenda covers state IT initiatives, state expenditures, contract bidders and vendors, listings of state employees including salary information, and updates on his budget-cutting plans. The plan says nothing about the governor’s office itself.

Which is rather curious, since Republicans have frequently lambasted Governor Shumlin for his alleged opacity. You’d think Scott would want tougher standards for future governors. But I guess not.

(There’s also no mention of an oft-promoted reform: ending the “revolving door” in Montpelier. I suppose he doesn’t want to limit job opportunities for his future minions.)

Put it all together, and the Phil Scott agenda would mean a more powerful governor and a less powerful Legislature. It would also mean future governors wouldn’t have to work quite as hard as our past and current chief executives.

That’s leadership, the Phil Scott Way.


3 thoughts on “Phil Scott would like a more convenient governorship

  1. Walter Carpenter

    “Which is rather curious, since Republicans have frequently lambasted Governor Shumlin for his alleged opacity. ”

    It’s the old “Do as I say and not as I do.”

  2. newzjunqie

    All “suggestions” have common goal — to consolidate & contain power structure.

    No to the shorter session! Reeks of Douglas who marshalled staffers as personal politbureau press secretaries posted at every entrance & exit serving primarily to keep him — and themselves — in power by simply sweeping the dirt under the rug. Didn’t hurt to have college buddy Graff editing in the Newspeak Dept. Price tag: half-a-million bucks per year — not including Graff — on AP payroll.

    Twas the Dem veto-proof that finally doomed Douglas, signaling the Shap-Shummy dynamic duo would oppose him at every turn & neutering his regime. But couldn’t have happened w/o a little help from Douglas himself. Appears to be schooling Scott in the art of political gamesmanship but which also became his undoing.

    1. Limit the process; that is the timetable lawmakers get to do their job which might be a great idea under present players & circumstances but not for good for democracy as it tampers with a branch of government that ideally represents us but in actuality doesn’t.

    2. Limit access of press to the process by shortening the process.

    3. Limit budgetary discussion

    No to the two year budget! More suggestions from Douglas and mere poliical ploy to stay in power. Means for the two years in office little or no discussion occurs result: more executive heavy-handedness.

    No to four year term! Like the good king-bad king scenario of bible times — limits the drama & makes getting rid of bad kings quicker. Shummy’s last two years seem to linger & linger now imagine his ruination & destruction of our state were to continue an additional two years. *Imus scream*

    Support Scott but he needs to be his own man & stop taking lessons from Douglas as he’s quietly unscrewing the wheels on his wagon. Personally just beginning to see the hand of Dracula in every pie here & Douglas’ neediness to once again be a major part of the show. Detecting a musty odor & tell-tale mossy-back in my crystal ball.

    Party is now positioned to be the voice of the ppl since the Dems embarked upon a top-down centrist freeze to keep *themselves* in power ie became about themselves & all-things-dem party and not about us. Unpopular issues are: the way renewables are being done, VHC & GMCB sellout of us to: hospital associations by using healthcare to increase their bottom line *not* best interests of the consumer, ACOs to limit & deny care, Pharma, takeover of education by executive branch etc etc. If conservatives make the ppls’issues theirs, the Dems will lose power & it will shift back to the right.

    Republicans & all of us need to remember that the party not only completely lost its way during the Douglas years but suffered near total collapse & has not recovered. So how did it work out for Dubie? If not for Douglas leading Dubie astray he might have become governor & a productive member of conservative society but the well was poisoned by Douglas toxic brand of power-hungry sneaky dishonest politics. Dumbfounded that they seemingly have learned nothing if he is being given a big roll or seat at any table.


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