by Rep. Gina Galfetti
The ceremonies of government are meant to impress, and as the Governor walked into the House chamber to give his budget address, I was once again struck with awe.
Sitting in seat 6 in the front row brought me close to the center of the action. Phil Scott is one of Vermont’s most beloved Governors and his amiable attitude and willingness to greet people of all political persuasions on his way into the Chamber reaffirmed my belief in democracy. Scott has proven himself a capable leader in the face of Covid and the challenges of being nearly alone in the State House as the number of Republicans has waned.
I salute a man who has managed to hold off the far left agenda with little support. And it is here that all of us Republicans should take notice. Scott has walked a fine line between the folks who would like to see Vermont renamed “Verfornia” and those who still advocate for the “spirit of liberty…held by the people of this brave little state of Vermont” of which Calvin Coolidge spoke.
It is not an easy path and he has irritated and disappointed those who fall on the far right. However, he plays a tune that most Vermonters, Republican, Democrat, or Independent, want to hear. And if we Republicans want to make a comeback, get elected, and make a difference, we had better start taking notes and can the ultra-right rhetoric if we want to win elections.
I was more than disappointed in a majority of the Senate, a number of members in the House, and the dyed-hair-sans-graying ponytail Progressive Lieutenant Governor as they feigned sleep, or doodled, or slumped back in their chairs as this capable Admiral set a course forward for the ship of state. Such behavior does not belong in these hallowed halls and certainly is not warranted in the face of a man who has brokered many agreements that benefit the people.
I couldn’t help but think of vultures circling as they jockey for position on the wings of Scott’s retirement one day—a retirement that I hope is in the distant future.
Scott spoke to all of the issues: affordable housing; childcare; public safety; climate mitigation; and eliminating taxes on our veterans—issues that I had campaigned on. He did this with his eyes on Vermonters’ pockets and pledged not to raise taxes. This is a message that I can support fully and without reservations.
As I made my way back to my committee room, I was excited like a kid on Christmas. I was due to get a copy of the 2024 and 2025 Capital Budget. Let me explain: While the governor gave his address, the hard working folks in the Joint Fiscal Office placed binders labeled CAPITAL CONSTRUCTION PROPOSAL the desks of the Corrections and Institutions members desks. Inside this binder is the Governor’s proposed Capital Budget for 2024 and 2025. Unlike the budget of the General Fund, the Capital Budget is split into 2 years so that major projects can be planned—things like the overhauling of buildings and construction of new facilities.
Then, while others headed home on long drives back to far flung districts, I headed downstairs to the legislative lounge/computer room to put in some much needed time on my company’s Quickbooks, and I was taken aback. Here I was juggling just a few numbers and pulling my hair out, but somehow the Governor’s office had managed to pull together an eight billion dollar budget that will meet the needs of both urban and rural Vermonters and not raise taxes. No small feat to be sure!
I turned my attention to the window and the falling snow with hope – hope that the House and Senate don’t slice and dice the Governor’s budget into something unrecognizable.
This hope may be short lived, however, since bills keep getting introduced like H. 5, which proposes that all water going vessels from steam-powered paddle boats to kayaks and rowboats be required to obtain a 20 dollar permit. Egad! What a great way to prevent average families with children and small water craft from accessing state waters!
There are other choice gems, like S.17 that would limit avenues for funding for county sheriffs. And the list goes on. We can all only hope that some of these bills die in committee or are amended to resemble something reasonable, but the tides are not in our favor. I will keep you posted.
This past week, I joined with others to co-sponsor a bill, H. 74, which proposes repealing the Global Warming Solutions Act. This is an act which last year’s legislators pretty much lifted from California’s play book. It is an Act that goes too far and burdens Vermonters with a Green initiative that is both too radical and way too expensive. It sets goals that seem arbitrary and unachievable, and it gives anyone and everyone the right to bring suit against the State of Vermont if a person believes that the state is not achieving its goals.
As much as I believe that the Global Warming Solutions Act needs to be repealed, I was unhappy that we did not offer an alternative to replace it with something that has more tenable goals and would protect the environment effectively without breaking the backs of Vermonters. I don’t believe in just saying “no” without offering an alternative, and I will be working with others to propose some viable alternatives.
And so I end my laments here today and look forward to continuing my updates to my constituents of Barre Town and Williamstown as well as any other Vermonters who might be interested in this humble freshman’s insights (or lack thereof) into the 2023 Legislative Session.
Gina Galfetti is the Representative for the Washington/Orange District and can be contacted at: 802.461.3520 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Categories: Rep. Gina Galfetti's Floor Report