Okay time for a pop quiz:
Who said the following?“It is time for a new model. It is time for customer service government. The role of government is to treat you, the citizen, as the customer and look at life through your eyes and say ‘How can we help you succeed and how can we get out of your way.’”
B.) Rollo Tamasi
C.) Gov. Rick Snyder (R, MN)
D.) Lt. Gov. Phil Scott (R, VT)
E.) none of the above
It is Snyder’s governing philosophy as he explained when he first became Michigan governor. He also issued assurances that radical streamlining of regulations aka ‘getting government out of the way’ wouldn’t be detrimental to the health and safety of the public or to the environment.
The city of Flint Michigan’s lead tainted drinking water, caused in part by Snyder’s administration, probably was in the back of many people’s mind when reports surfaced that we are having a toxic water crisis right here in Vermont. It is much smaller scale but just as bad for those affected.
We are already seeing how our state agencies and government officials will cope with the short term issues-supplying drinking water, testing wells, etc. In the long run an examination of how the contamination was allowed to happen and future regulatory policy corrections will likely be explored by the next governor we elect.
It is probably worth noting that both Vermont Republican primary candidates for governor are expressing strategies for governing eerily similar to Snyder’s.
In fact Lisman’s recent editorial about what he calls the “valued customer citizen” could have been cribbed directly from the Michigan Governor’s remarks. “First, I’d ask you to re-imagine our state’s government – one that treats its constituents as valued customers and sees employers as strategic partners,” said Lisman.
And like Lisman, Lt. Governor Scott has a vivid imagination. “Imagine if we had a governor’s office that treated every sector in the same way,” he says. But all sectors are not the same.
Financial sector regulations are designed to guard against poisoning the economic wellbeing of the state. However, in a different sector, say the chemical industry, unique rules must prevent poisoning people, water, and the economy. There was plenty of bailing out done but there was no need to distribute bottled water during the credit default swap crisis.
And speaking of the chemical industry: Lt. Gov. Scott had a chance to practice the industry-friendly philosophy he preaches when he cast a rare tie-breaking vote in the Senate. That 2015 vote probably pleased the chemical industry. His “Yes” vote killed a bill that would have strengthened recently enacted regulations (Act 188) controlling toxic chemicals used in children’s toys.
Scott opposed the changes, so as not to ‘create uncertainty’ for the industry, and suggested the existing weaker regulations should be “given a chance” so we could “see what happens.” It is worth stressing his choice was between strengthening the existing rules governing “chemicals of high concern to children” in toys or keep the law in its present form, which is considered weaker.
Hard to know exactly what form governor Lisman or governor Scott’s re-imagined government might take, but a quick glimpse at the havoc wrought from Snyder’s Flint-style customer service gives a frightening preview of the experiment.