Keelan: Supermajority opened floodgates to overspending

by Don Keelan

If ever leadership was absent during a Vermont Legislative session, it was in 2023. Leadership was essential when over one-third of the body was new to being legislators. 

I can only go back to 1986 for a basis of reference. Still, I do not recall any session of the Legislature having so many bills introduced and adopted as this recent one when there are so few State funds to pay for the bills’ underlying cost. 

The adoption of Family Leave, Child Care, Universal School meals, Affordable Heat, Homeless sheltering, Mental Health, and Housing were only a few of the many bills that were advanced to the Governor for his signature. 

Don Keelan

Governor Phil Scott’s signature was not forthcoming on many of the bills. Although he agrees that there is a great need for many of the bills’ purposes, he is responsible for reconciling how such legislation will be paid for without stripping untold dollars from Vermont residents and businesses. 

The Legislature leaders knew this and had a duty to inform their new members; there is a limit on how much money the State can raise in taxes, so priorities need to be set. This was not the case. 

The new members and many non-leaders knew that 2023 was the year to open the floodgates. They had control of the House and Senate and a super-majority when it came to overriding the Governor’s veto. 

The secret is out about Vermont. It is no longer just a pristine state with rolling hills, quaint villages, farms, and thousands of miles of unpaved roads. It is a state with an opioid epidemic, homelessness and housing crises, gun violence in once peaceful towns, and a lack of employees to fill over 20,000 open positions, especially in medical/mental health care, first responders, education, and many other sectors. For decades, this Vermont underbelly has been denied. 

How the legislature conducted itself is analogous to a house on fire, with the owner walking around the burning structure accompanied by a landscape architect to decide where to place the pergola. The leadership was responsible for addressing one or two significant issues facing the State, not caveating to the whims of new members.

Effective leadership takes the most serious issues and evaluates how the State might address them with its limited financial resources and limited personnel to manage any proposed solutions. One does this by establishing priorities. Yet, there was an abject failure in Montpelier: the leaders placated their members by adopting legislation covering every issue confronting the State. 

We often hear the adage concerning the illegal drug issue: we cannot police or arrest our way out of the problem. Similarly, we cannot legislate or tax our way out of all the difficulties confronting Vermont that have been neglected and ignored. 

We need policing when dealing with drug purveyors, and we must have laws and state spending to bring solutions to the abovementioned issues. But, we do not need the legislature’s leaders unloading all issues onto the governor’s desk. Passing the buck is not leadership. 

The legislature’s leaders should have educated, compromised, and persuaded, if necessary, its members that it is only possible to address some issues impacting Vermont. Tough choices must be made; their constituents expect leaders to make them. 

Instead, they decided that every issue had to be addressed and funded regardless of from where the funding came. Vermont does not have the capability to print money to fund hundreds of millions of dollars in new State spending, albeit some in Montpelier think otherwise.

The author is a U.S. Marine (retired), CPA, and columnist living in Arlington, VT.

Categories: Commentary

8 replies »

  1. Leadership from the likes of Baruth and Krowinski? Are you kidding? LOL

  2. Sadly, yes….all of the above, but wait there’s more…..

    We just elected a person to Congress whose campaign was funded by nearly $1M in dark, ill-gotten money, and the person has said she didn’t know anything about it.

  3. It would be nice if Legislatures had to take an aptitude test before running for office. Do the people have the right to fire since the people hired or does the majority of people in this state really think their doing a great job, if so, it’s a loss for the state and time to move!

  4. We is what we all get via the clueless general electorate who have voted for men in dresses to “represent” us and who then choose more men in dresses and clown garb to provide this legislature’s “devotional”.
    This is what we all get for those who bought into the lies of Prop. 22 that ensures the right of a woman to brutally murder her own child for any “reason” (as if there were but even one) and to allow the “state” to enable your children to mutilate their genitals without either your knowledge or your permission.
    This is what we all get for allowing the state to infringe upon & violate our right to freedom of religion through their closure of churches & synagogues but not liquor shops or bars.
    This is what we all get for our collective complacency and naivete for permitting this power-mongering, Communist collective group of mentally ill, Godless, anti-constitutionalists have the opportunity to decimate all of our innate freedoms in an out-and-out assault stopping at nothing less than finally dismantling & destroying this Constitutional Republic.
    So now what? Let them finish the job?
    I don’t think so.

    • Wow! I don’t think I’ve seen this better expressed. Blame the leftists Nazis in politician garb all you want, here in VT the problem lies with the sheeple who want “tolerance” and certainly not bad Orangeman stuff.

  5. The thievery of taxpayer money started decades ago. The difference is today the fraud and deceptions are being exposed. The criminal conduct was secretive and very subtle so not to draw attention or public awareness. Today, their greed submits to fear of retribution and the criminal, global, syndicate is now desperate and careless. A declaration of war upon the people started in haste here March of 2020. Their time to complete their mission is running out and they know it. I expect to see a kitchen sink (or missile) fly through the air and the manifistation of an event that will bring many to their knees. Luke 21:26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.