I have some thoughts regarding Governor Shumlin’s State of the State Address, Opioid Edition. But before I get to that, I wanted to point out the most interesting response to the speech. It came from Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, putative moderate. And it sounded… well… extremely Republican.
I agree wholeheartedly with the Governor that drug abuse – and prevention, enforcement, treatment and recovery – is a critical issue in our state that we must address.
Nothing wrong so far. Standard boilerplate response. But then:
The Governor also mentioned that creating jobs and opportunity is the best prevention. I completely agree, but I’m concerned that there was no mention of a plan or strategy on that front. Since being elected to public office, I’ve been talking about the need to grow the economy, creating an environment that is conducive to growth, and making it easier for people to do business in Vermont. I’m concerned that we have created a lot of uncertainty on a number of issues – health care, property tax increases, employer mandates and other government regulations – some of which are making it harder, not easier, to do business in Vermont. I want to once again challenge every legislator and the Governor to think about their decisions on each and every piece of legislation this session through this lens: How will it impact business and economic growth in Vermont?
Well now. That sounds like something you’d hear from Randy Brock or Angry Jack Lindley, not from the guy who’s supposedly moving his party toward the center. In fact, it’s beginning to look like Phil Scott is moving away from the center and toward the anti-tax, anti-government wing of the VTGOP.
More than that, it’s the kind of rhetoric that comes from the national GOP: the answer to every social issue is lowering taxes and lightening regulation. Is this the same Phil Scott who argues that the national party’s extreme positions have no place in Vermont politics?
I can see why Scott, having assumed a measure of leadership responsibility, may feel obligated to more strongly represent his party’s position. But it’s certainly at odds with the vision of Everybody’s Buddy creating a kinder, gentler VTGOP. If anything, the influence is going the other way.