Let’s Grow Kids” has been around the block a few times. It is, according to VTDigger’s Final Reading, “the state’s leading child care advocacy group.” There’s no way they don’t know the score.
How to explain, then, that LGK endorsed Gov. Phil Scott for re-election and did not endorse his Democratic challenger Brenda Siegel?
If you come up with an explanation for that, then riddle me this: How is it that LGK is shocked and disappointed that the governor still holds to his consistent position — that he wants to do something to improve child care but he won’t sign on to tax hikes or LGK’s benchmarks for progress? In the words of VTDigger’s Final Reading:
Scott has long called for additional investments in child care, but never on the scale that advocates argue will be necessary to make a real dent in the problem. Crucially, he’s remained consistent in his belief that the state does not need to levy new broad-based taxes to expand access.
Key words: “remained consistent.” His stance cannot possibly be a surprise to LGK leadership or anyone else who’s been paying attention. It couldn’t have been a surprise when LGK was deciding on its endorsements last year. It’s not only his approach to child care; it’s his default on any social issue. He acknowledges the need, but refuses to commit actual resources to the task. Or actual effort, for that matter.
So why did they do it? Well, LGK is a broad-based onganization that encompasses the left and center of Vermont politics plus large sections of the business community. LIke many of Vermont’s advocacy nonprofits, it tries not to ruffle too many feathers. A rejection of Scott in favor of Siegel would not have gone down well with some of its deep-pocketed donors.
Hey look, there’s a list of donors on the LGK website!
How about the Corporate Circle, the businesses that have donated anywhere from $2,500 to $500,000 to LGK’s campaign? Membership includes the National Life Group, Mascoma Savings Bank, the Berlin Mall, Casella Waste Management, People’s United Bank, Union Bank, and Vermont Mutual Insurance Group.
There are also a bunch of businesses and entities listed as donors but not in the Corporate Circle including Keurig Green Mountain, the Vermont Country Store, Union Mutual, the State of Vermont,
The list of individual donors is long and politically diverse. A few names you probably know: anti-renewable advocate Tom Evslin, ski mogul* Win Smith, former National Life CEO Tom MacLeay, Neale Lunderville, and lobbyist John Hollar.
*See what I did there?
To be sure, there are a lot more liberal names than conservative ones. But the point is, LGK casts a wide net and it’s dependent on corporate support. The broad base gives it heft, but it also has strong incentives to do some serious self-editing.
The result — and again, LGK is far from the only nonprofit I could name here — is an organization that’s better on press conferences and statements than it is on driving progressive policy. As you can see from CEO Aly Richards’ strenuous effort to avoid excluding the governor even as she calls his child care policy “out of touch” and “a missed opportunity.”
But in an interview Wednesday, Richards appeared hesitant to acknowledge that the organization’s vision for change and the governor’s beliefs are fundamentally irreconcilable.
“He agrees, I would say, with the urgency and the outcome and the goal. He doesn’t want to raise new revenue,” Richards said. “And that’s where we are.”
Yep, he “agrees with the urgency,” but his policy is anything but urgent. That seems to be good enough for Richards. If you look around, you might find that Let’s Grow Kids isn’t the most productive organization when it comes to child care advocacy.
Boomer here I remember when child care was so hard to find and expensive companies built them into their operations. Needs to be done again if “they” want workers so badly.
Really, it’s an economic development investment. Phil Scott wants more families with children? Do this. And paid leave.
#democracygame at best 😊