Note: Updated below with comments from Gov. Scott.
Welp, the Scott administration, deliberately or otherwise, pulled a fast one on the Legislature. Remember that painfully-negotiated unemployment insurance deal? The one that obtained a supplemental $25/week in UI benefits in exchange for a great big tax break for businesses?
Yeah, well, you’re not getting the 25 bucks. I’ll assume that the businesses still get their [checks notes] $300 million over 10 years.
Yep, Vermont’s jobless — and the Legislature — took it in the shorts.
The problem, as VTDigger’s Fred Thys reports, is that the federal government has ruled that the extra benefit can’t be paid out of the state’s unemployment trust fund.
Here’s where the frequently embattled Labor Commissioner Michael Harrington comes in. He received word on June 14 that the feds might have a problem with the benefit as written.
He informed the Legislature on… wait for it… August 24.
He said he didn’t take action until he got definitive word from the feds. But the delay also meant the Legislature had no chance to take corrective action, which would have been pretty simple. “Hindsight is always 20-20,” Harrington said, unhelpfully.
Four Democratic/Progressive candidates for the House, including two incumbents, have declined endorsements from the Vermont State Employees’ Union, citing “harmful inconsistencies in the organization’s support of the Black Lives Matter movement.” (The four are Reps. Mari Cordes and Selene Colburn, and Democratic candidates Emmy Mulvaney-Stanak and Taylor Small.)
Or, to put it another way, the VSEA’s kneejerk support for its members — even the rotten apples threatening to spoil the bushel.
Protecting its members is a core mission for every union. But there can and should be exceptions to the rule. It’s really in the best interest of the union (and the labor movement) to ensure that the bad apples are removed before they harm the reputation of all its members. Kind of like when the Major League Baseball Players’ Association blocked meaningful action to address baseball’s rampant steroid problem. Was it really in the best interest of non-using MLBPA members to allow the cheaters to go on damaging the game?
No, but the PA acted on first instinct. And when the VSEA staunchly claims that all the problems in Vermont’s corrections system are on management, and asserts that its members are blameless? They’re doing the same thing. And it must be said, DOC members wield a lot of power in VSEA. So much so, that if I were a VSEA member in some other state agency, I’d be upset over the union’s inaction when scandalous behavior is unearthed at state prisons.
This creates a dilemma for Democratic officeholders.
I just realized that it’s been a long time since I’d given any thought to the Progressive Party as a force in state politics.
What reminded me was Terri Hallenbeck’s piece about the Stanaks, “a family divided over a Vermont election.” It’s the story of a stalwart progressive (and Progressive) family that’s gone in different directions this cycle. Paterfamilias Ed Stanak, motivated by opposition to ridgeline wind, is backing Phil Scott. Daughter Lluvia Stanak is working on the Sue Minter campaign. Her sister Emma Mulvaney-Stanak, chair of the Vermont Progressive Party, is officially neutral.
That’s because the Progs opted to sit out the gubernatorial race, failing to field a candidate of their own and refusing to endorse anyone else. I vaguely recall knowing that at some earlier point, but I’d managed to completely forget it until now.
The non-endorsement kinda made sense at the time. Sue Minter looked like an offshoot of the Shumlin administration, which had burned the Progs twice over by snagging their endorsement in 2010 and 2012 and then bailing on their number-one issue, single-payer health care. The Progs were, understandably, twice bitten and thrice shy.
It looks a lot worse now, what with Prog stalwart David Zuckerman fully on board with the Democratic ticket and Bernie Sanders going all-out to boost the Minter campaign. Indeed, the Progressive Party looks out of touch and almost irrelevant.
The Progressive Party’s State Committee met on Saturday, and decided to stay out of the race for governor. Which strikes me as a small but measurable setback for Peter Galbraith, the self-described progressive choice.
As reported by Seven Days’ Terri Hallenbeck, the Committee did endorse Sen. David Zuckerman for lieutenant governor and the re-election bid of Auditor Doug Hoffer. No surprises there.
But the Committee opted not to endorse any of the three Dems running for governor, even though Galbraith, Sue Minter, and Matt Dunne each addressed the gathering in hopes of earning the nod. There were two major factors in the non-decision, party chair Emma Mulvaney-Stanak told me.
First, the Progs’ 2010 decision to stay out of the gubernatorial race in hopes that Peter Shumlin would deliver on single-payer health care and other key issues. “That left a very bad taste in Progressives’ mouths,” she said, and little enthusiasm for supporting a Democrat.
And second, the Democratic candidates failed to inspire the Committee. “None brought a Progressive ‘wow factor,’” she explained.
Their presentations were pretty similar. They didn’t exactly make a strong case for why the Progressive Party should endorse them. They seemed unwilling to go beyond what the Democratic establishment supports
All three have tried to wrap themselves in the Bernie Sanders mantle. But Galbraith more insistently than the other two. Was Mulvaney-Stanak surprised that Galbraith didn’t impress?