State boards and commissions just grow and grow
by Vermont Daily staff
In 2018, Governor Scott created a new Sunset Advisory Commission to review the growing number of boards, councils, task forces, committees, commissions, and working groups in state government. Yet, the number of new state boards and commissions has continued to grow substantially. Why are there so many boards? Do they still serve a purpose?
Boards, Boards, and More Boards
The State of Vermont does not keep a list of how many total state boards there are–in part because state bureaucrats and administrators might not know the true figure. Some estimates place the number at roughly 350, but the true figure is likely even greater. This is partially because informal working groups or temporarily-created task forces often fall outside the radar of state policymakers.
Some of these boards and commissions include high-profile committees that oversee important functions or organizations. These include the Vermont Pension Investment Committee (VPIC), which determines the state’s investment holdings for its pension system, and the Vermont Veterans Home Board of Trustees, which governs the Vermont Veterans Home.
The purpose and structure of other boards is less clear. For example, the Vermont Racing Commission–or the horse racing commission, as it is known around Montpelier–hasn’t been active in years. And while the State Workforce Development Board may center around a critical issue, its dozens and dozens of members would seemingly make it difficult for cohesion and decision-making.
Other boards have arguably outlived their purpose. The Green Mountain Care Board was designed to implement a single-payer health care system in Vermont–a proposal that was tossed out nearly 7 years ago. Yet, the board exists–in part to oversee the state’s failing OneCare program–and pays its 5 members a total of nearly $600,000 each year, on top of hundreds of thousands in staffing expenses.
Similarly, the State Board of Education all-but admitted its purpose was outdated. Yet, despite discussions of eliminating the Board and absorbing its functions into the Agency of Education, the board still exists.
Enter the Sunset Advisory Commission
In 2018, Governor Scott created a 6-member Sunset Advisory Commission to review boards and commissions for repeal. The board has met several times to consider the effectiveness and usefulness of several state boards, commissions, task forces, councils, committees, and working groups.
Yet, of the state’s hundreds and hundreds of boards, the commission only seems to touch on a few. For example, legislation sponsored by co-commission members John Gannon (D-Wilmingham) and Rob LaClair (R-Barre Town) would retire just 4 of the state’s hundreds of boards–all while the Legislature is contemplating adding dozens more. This one-step forward, two-steps back approach has made it difficult for the commission to achieve meaningful change.
A Hail-Storm of New Boards
The minimal efforts towards repeal of old boards take on an even greater importance in light of the dozens and dozens of new boards proposed for creation this year. Vermont Daily has reviewed hundreds of pending bills in the Vermont Legislature and identified countless new boards that have been proposed. These include the following:
- Working Group on Services for Adults with Autism
- Council on the Economic Future of Vermont
- Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for the Institution of Chattel Slavery
- State Youth Council
- Office of the Child Advocate
- Task Force on School Exclusionary Discipline Reform
- Emergency Service Provider Wellness Commission
- Health Equity Advisory Commission
- Working Group on the Status of Libraries in Vermont
- Forensic Care Working Group
- Local Revenue Distribution Working Group
- Pension Benefits, Design, and Funding Task Force
- Artificial Intelligence Commission
- Nutrition for Older Vermonters Working Group
- Facilitation of Interstate Practice Using Telehealth Working Group
- Forensic Mental Health Working Group
- General Assistance Working Group
- Housing Recovery Working Group
- Corrections Monitoring Commission
- Access to Credit Working Group
- Intercollegiate Sexual Violence Prevention Council
- Child and Parent Representation Working Group
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission Development Task Force
- Agricultural Innovation Board
- F-35 Adverse Impacts Compensation Board
- Independent Monitoring Board for Body-Worn Camera Footage
- Sustainable Sanitation Working Group
- Environmental Stewardship Board
- Vermont State Building Security Board
- Vermont Higher Education Endowment Trust Fund Council
This is just a partial list of the myriad of state boards and commissions considered for creation.
Until legislators reign-in their appetite for deference to create a new board or commission every time an issue arises, it is likely the number of new boards will only continue to grow–at an unknown cost to Vermont taxpayers.
Categories: State Government