Tag Archives: Job Tate

A wild Saturday night with the Windsor County GOP

Sing it with me, boys and girls: “One of these things is not like the others…”

Feliciano, Tate, Dame, Lisman

That, my friends, is the star-studded lineup for Saturday night’s “gala dinner” hosted by the Windsor County Republicans. Well, that plus a “Soap Box” for any Republican candidate who shows up and wants to charm the crowd with some campaign bumpf.

Constant Readers will recall that Windsor County GOP Chair John MacGovern had touted the event with a list of “invited speakers” featuring a whole bunch of Republican notables: at least three presidential candidates, any and all Vermont Republican hopefuls, plus VTGOP godfather Jim Douglas.

Well, apparently most of those folks declined the invitation. Instead, we get the odd quartet pictured above: three of the most conservative politicos in the VTGOP, plus wealthy gubernatorial candidate Bruce Lisman.

And don’t forget the Soap Box!

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Dumbest Bill of the Year: We may have a winner!

This one’s being referred to the House Committee on Goofy Shit.

Tomorrow may be April Fools Day, but one of our lovable, huggable freshman lawmakers chose today to introduce the early front-runner for Dumbest Bill of the Year.

The sponsor is Republican Job Tate of Mendon, he who sent gasps through the House chamber last week when he proposed cutting lawmakers’ already minuscule pay. His new brainchild is H.495. It’s very simple, about a half page long. It’s the very first bill on which he is the one and only sponsor — his first big idea. And what would it do?

It would shift the Legislature from a Tuesday-Friday schedule for four months, to a Saturday-Sunday schedule for eight months.

Let that sink in for a moment. The Legislature meets on weekends exclusively for eight months every year.

The intent, I guess, is to make serving in the Legislature more accessible to those with full-time jobs. And on behalf of working men and women across Vermont, let me just say “Bwahahahahaha.”

Are you kidding me? Do you think anyone with a full-time job would want to devote their weekends for eight solid months to working under the golden dome? As one observer noted, “The divorce rate would skyrocket.”

Not to mention that everyone who has dealings with the Legislature, including numerous state employees, would have their choice of working seven days a week when the Leg is in session, working five-day weeks including Saturday and Sunday and taking two weekdays off, or working weekdays and being constantly on call for legislature-related obligations every weekend.

Lobbyists, who constantly prowl the corridors of power, would be royally screwed. But ehhhh, they’re lobbyists. (How does that joke go, “What do you call a hundred lobbyists buried up to their necks in sand?”)

Okay, of course this bill is going nowhere. But why introduce it in the first place? How did Mr. Tate seize upon this as his inaugural voyage into the waters of lawmaking?

Job Tate is not a fool. He was a Navy Seabee and remains in the reserves. According to his legislative bio, he was…

…a heavy equipment operator, explosives expert, squad leader, and combat warfare specialist who has worked with teams to build vital infrastructure in some of the world’s most challenging conditions.

That takes some brain power and the ability to correctly deploy it. But stuff like H.495, he should know, is a good way to get yourself typed as the Clown Prince of the House.

Stupid Tax and Budget Tricks

The Republicans often (constantly) accuse Gov. Shumlin and the Democrats of irresponsible governance — of taxing and spending without regard for the long term.

Well, pot, meet kettle.

Consideration of the tax and budget bills in the House has been marked by Republican gimmickry and short-term thinking. And it looks like we’re in for more next week.

A few examples.

First, House Minority Leader Don Turner’s deal with Speaker Shap Smith, delivering ten Republican votes in exchange for more money for Emergency 911 call centers and the Vermont Veterans’ Home. Thus ensuring the passage of a budget he claims to oppose, and fattening it by more than a million dollars.

Second, Rep. Paul Dame’s unaccountable vote for restoring full LIHEAP funding, in spite of the fact that he opposes all tax increases and wants even deeper spending cuts  — conveniently unspecified — than the Democrats proposed. Which means if we restored LIHEAP, we’d have to cut the money somewhere else — almost certainly in other human-services programs, since that’s the lion’s share of General Fund spending.

Third, Rep. Job Tate, a House freshman who was previously noted for handing out Life-Savers in honor of the Emergency 911 call center staffers whose positions he sought to maintain even while insisting on No New Taxes and More Cuts Elsewhere. Today he resorted to an old chestnut of Budget Theater: proposing a pay cut for lawmakers.

Who, as it is, make a mere pittance for their work. And because their pay is so minimal, the cut would have been minuscule compared to the budget gap. But hey, it would have sent a message, right? Share the pain, right? Yeah, thanks for participating, Mr. Tate.

And then we have Paul Dame, he of the pandering and hypocritical LIHEAP vote, proposing another cynical amendment. The tax bill includes a cap on itemized deductions equal to 2.5 times the standard deduction. Well, Mr. Dame touted an amendment to allow unlimited itemizations for people with incomes under $60,000 a year.

Never mind that pretty much everyone who earns less than $60,000 is taking the standard deduction. It’s virtually impossible to have an income that low and rack up enough deductions to make itemizing worthwhile. It’s an empty gesture aimed at positioning Dame as a friend of the little guy, even as he would force massive cuts in human services programs if he had his way on taxation and budget-writing.

As for next week, one of the big items on the House agenda is the water bill, aimed at sparking cleanup efforts in Lake Champlain and other Vermont waters. The Republicans, natch, oppose any new taxes even while paying lip service to clean water. Indeed, they apparently favor new programs (not that they have any choice, since the EPA would come down on us hard like a criminal if we didn’t act), but want to get the funding from existing sources. Like, oh, maybe scraping the gold off the Statehouse dome and selling it to Cash4Gold.com, or searching the seat cushions for spare change.

Or, in Don Turner’s case, scrounging a little money from existing sources and using it “to leverage bonds.”

Bonds?

Oh, you mean debt?

I see. So Mr. Fiscal Responsibility wants Vermont to assume a pile of new debt — adding to our long-term fiscal issues — for the sake of avoiding any new taxes right now.

You know, during the House debate we’d occasionally hear a blast of honest, hard-core conservatism. One Representative basically said all those poors should get off their asses and go to work. At least that’s honest, if it’s also ignorant and mean-spirited. But Republicans trying to have it both ways? That’s just sickening.

So what kind of game are legislative Republicans up to?

Interesting bit of byplay from last night’s hearing on possible E-911 dispatch closures, as captured by Freeploid newbie Paris Achen, who is one “a” away from being the only Vermont reporter named after two European cities:

Rep. Job Tate, R-Mendon, stood at the entrance of the House chamber and handed out Lifesavers “for life savers.”

Now, I would expect Republicans, being Republicans after all, to oppose revenue increases. But here is Mr. Tate, grandstanding his opposition to a modest budget cut.

This is the party that believes we should take a meataxe to the budget — that Democrats are guilty of out-of-control spending.

Of course, this is also the party that has failed to identify any cuts of its own, aside from its persistent call for dismantling Vermont Health Connect. You know, the proposal with the Incredible Shrinking Savings: originally $20 million, now $8 million.

I’ve heard other rumblings of this behavior by some Republican lawmakers, but this is the first concrete example I’ve seen in the media. It strikes me as highly cynical and deliberately obstructive.

The Republicans like to claim they’re different from their national colleagues — that they adhere to the Vermont Way of civility and cooperation in politics, trying to serve the best interests of the state. Well, actively opposing real budget cuts while issuing vague calls for undefined budget cuts is a piss-poor way of doing so.

Bonus: Tate’s rationale for opposing the E-911 consolidation was tissue-thin.

“For us, the local knowledge of the area is important to directing troopers to the right location,” Tate said.

Consolidation would remove some of the local knowledge about remote areas of the state, he said.

Yuh-huh. You’re telling me that efficient dispatch service depends on local knowledge? It’s not like we’ve got dispatchers in every town and on every hilltop. The current system has four dispatch centers. FOUR. In a state like Vermont, the unique value of “local knowledge” dissipates awfully quickly. It’s hard to see how we’d lose critical “local knowledge” when we’re cutting from four to two.