Legislative leadership is rightly getting an earful from teachers, state employees and union supporters over the emerging make-workers-pay pension reform plan. But let’s not overlook the fact that Gov. Phil Scott is playing no role whatsoever in devising a solution to this very large problem.
As he has done on issue after issue throughout his governorship, he is sitting back and letting the Legislature do the hard work and take the punishment. Then, after all their blood, sweat and tears, he saunters in, gives a thumbs-up or thumbs-down, and ambles away. If it’s thumbs down, the Legislature gets another try at guessing what will be acceptable to him.
This isn’t my idea of leadership. But who can blame the gov, considering that it works so well for him?
Over and over again, Scott sits out a tough policy debate — and the Democrats let him get away with it. They bargain against themselves. They begin with a position that’s more than halfway to his side, and they only give ground from there. The governor doesn’t get exactly what he wants, but the Democrats get far less. And they look weak in the process.
You’d think the Democrats would have learned by now. But no, here they are doing the same damn thing on pensions — and in the process, betraying one of their core constituencies.
That might seem harsh, but Speaker Jill Krowinski told VTDigger yesterday that this is exactly what her caucus is doing. (Well, she left out the “betraying” part.)
In an interview with VTDigger after the vote, House Speaker Jill Krowinski, D-Burlington, said the Democrats shouldn’t pursue solutions Republican Gov. Phil Scott would veto anyway.
“I think it would be really unfortunate for our state if we went through this entire process and had a veto, and we weren’t able to override it,” she said.
I suppose it would also be “really unfortunate” if legislative Democrats were to, I don’t know, craft a policy they really believe is the best approach, drop it in the governor’s lap, and let him veto the thing. At least they would have stood for their principles.
And at least they wouldn’t have the unions vein-popping angry with them. Far from it, they’d have the unions on their side, newly committed to electing a Democratic governor.
Well, the Harlan Sylvesters of the world are probably enjoying this. Remember this quote from then-UVM political science prof Garrison Nelson: “[Sylvester] wants to erase the gap between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.”
In practice, that’s exactly what we’re getting now: A plausibly moderate Republican governor and a Democratic Legislature trying not to displease him.
That’s not why the voters elect Democrats, of course. Makes you think that Democratic officeholders are taking their voters for granted.
Or, maybe Harlan Sylvester and his ilk are the real core constituency of the Vermont Democratic Party.