Campaign Contributions to Finance Lake Clean-up?

During the current legislative session, budgetary constraints have proven very challenging to representatives of all political persuasions, as each has struggled to reaffirm a commitment to the shared goal of lake clean-up without betraying key constituents.

One Republican legislator (who has requested to remain anonymous) thinks he/she may have hit upon the perfect solution that no one can afford to refuse.  That individual is apparently moving swiftly behind the scenes to “make it so.”

Even our Democratic governor has balked at raising revenue the old fashioned way, and you won’t see any Republicans arguing with him on that score.

Where then does a large, renewable pool of money exist that has not already been committed to essential services, and is simply wasted as it is currently dedicated?

When put this way, even I guessed the answer…campaign contributions!

Yes, “Legislator X” proposes that his colleagues agree to apply a “voluntary levy” to all campaign contributions made in support of state office seekers.  The office seeker him/herself would serve as ‘gatekeeper,’ and the levy would be calculated and paid into a public fund, based on the total value of campaign contributions, at the conclusion of the election cycle.

Republicans have already made noises about campaign finance reform that might drive a wedge between them and the national party, were it even aware that Republicans exist in Vermont.   What better way for the perennial underdog to assert its independence?

Proceeds from these voluntary tithings would go into a dedicated fund; now for lake clean-up; later, perhaps, for some other purpose ordained by the legislature.

The incentive to honor even a voluntary commitment to such a fund would be tremendous.  No one would want to be the asshole who refused to chip in to clean-up the lake, especially since, for all intents and purposes, affordability would have been removed from the conversation.

The exact details of how this would work and the legal mechanisms involved still have to be considered, but our source is confident that consensus on principle is near.  

A colleague from the Progressive camp is urging that the recommended contribution be established on a sliding scale, so that the more financial support a candidate receives from contributors, the larger his “gift” to the Clean Water Fund should be.

Under such a model, Governor Shumlin could expect to give the lion’s share, should he seek reelection.

This is what is so unique about our little state.

Where else besides Vermont would a Republican spearhead such a brilliant and…well…PROGRESSIVE strategy for raising new revenue?

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

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