Words can barely express how inexplicable this is. Why did Gov. Phil Scott veto the public sector pension deal? Well, I know his stated reasons, but they’re stupid. He has expect an override, so his veto won’t accomplish anything except make him look needlessly obstructionist.
There’s more, a lot more, but let’s take ’em one at a time.
This deal came at the end of a years-long search for common ground on how to make the pensions fiscally sound. Last year, the Legislature set up a committee to recommend a way out of the mess. The panel included members of the Legislature and Scott’s administration, and the unions. It worked diligently for months.
At no point did Scott or any of his officials sound the alarm.
The committee brought its recommendation to the Legislature. It went through the entire process of committee hearing after committee hearing, amendments major and picayune, floor debates and floor votes.
At no point did Scott raise a hand and say the deal was unacceptable.
The votes in the House and Senate were UNANIMOUS. Every single goddamn Republican voted in favor of it.
At no point before the votes did Scott think to warn his legislative allies that he didn’t like the deal. Some of them would have happily voted “No” if they thought he had a problem.
This deal was put together painstakingly over almost an entire year. It involved the hard work of dozens of people and difficult compromises from all parties. It was a delicately balanced bargain. And Scott thinks he can just dive in and rearrange it?
Not to mention that his objections are stupid. Adding a defined contribution option would increase the pension systems’ complexity and add cost. His changes would not do anything to fix “the underlying problems” that Scott claims to be so concerned about.
On top of all that, I see no political upside for Scott in vetoing the bill. I guess he gets to play tough guy, but if the veto is overridden he will have accomplished precisely nothing while risking his image of plausible moderation and his credibility with the unions.
Throughout Scott’s tenure, he’s enjoyed the support or token opposition of the unions. The state employees’ union, in particular, has been about as Scott-friendly as a union could be. Large swaths of its membership voted for the guy. The unions never got behind any of his potential Democratic challengers. Not in a full-throated, all-out effort involving lots of money and eager volunteers.
It might also be the thing that brings more Democrats into the gubernatorial race, forces the VDP to confront its own inadequacies and get serious, for the first time, about defeating the governor. He might, for the first time in forever, have given a glimmer of hope that he could be beaten.
And for what? To have his veto overridden and his stupid suggestions ignored?
What’s the play?
I have no idea.
Maybe he is actually stepping out of politics and looking for a sinecure. He doesn’t seem like the sort to sign on with the Heritage Foundation or some such, but we’re in grasping-at-straws territory.
To paraphrase Robert Palmer, it’s simply inexplicable.