In response to criticism from legislative leadership, Governor Phil Scott has re-engaged on the budget process in the 11th hour with a modified proposal.
Scott’s initial proposal plugged a multi-million budget dollar hole (while increasing spending for selected items) largely based on a pitch for local school boards to both level-fund school budgets as well as delay their local school budget votes until May. This proposal was criticized as unrealistic on its face, particularly coming as it did only days before most already-crafted school budget proposals were to be legally finalized for Town Meeting Day consideration. Since the Governor’s vision for such a radical change in school budgeting did not materialize, the administration has firmly resisted calls to re-engage with the legislature in order to craft a proposal based on those budget factors within state control.
But that all changed today when Governor Scott announced a modified budget. In a message clearly tailored to legislators who viewed his previous proposal as based on assumptions that were unrealistic or even fanciful, Scott stressed his new proposal was a “serious, thoughtful proposal to bring in another $30 million dollars without raising any further taxes or fees on struggling Vermonters, while maintaining our budget priorities.”
The proposal fills the gap with the Leprechaun’s pot o’ gold. The Governor noted that his staff had been hard at work identifying the location of the end of the rainbow in recent months, and had in fact verified the location of the pot o’ gold only this week. In his press conference, the Governor strongly urged opposition Democrats to “move forward on this responsibly balanced budget without delay.”
Democratic legislative leaders, however, were dubious. In a hastily called press conference, House Leadership was joined by the Leprechaun, where the group characterized this most recent proposal as no more realistic than the previous one.
The Leprechaun also noted the history of ill fortune coming to those who had attempted to access this source of funding in the past, adding “hands off me gold.”
The Leprechaun further began voicing his concerns over the long-term wisdom of depending on such a “one-off” funding source for the state budget, but was cut short when he was seized by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials after proving unable to produce a valid green card.
Senate Judiciary Committee hearings over President Trump’s nominee to the US Supreme Court, Skeletor, continued today as the Eternian faced a marathon q&a session with the assembled Senators of both parties.
Supreme Court nominee Skeletor refused Tuesday to address tough questions from Democrats on abortion, guns, campaign spending and a host of other issues that he said could come before the court in the future.
President Trump’s nominee to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia 13 months ago said his caution wasn’t related to his personal views, which he steadfastly kept to himself.
Raising his voice at times, Skeletor said he rules fairly on facts and the law in each case that comes before him. Beyond that, he would not give hints about his ideological leanings, his opinions of past Supreme Court precedents or his likely votes in future cases.
“I have offered no promises on how I’d rule in any case to anyone, and I don’t think it’s appropriate to do so,” he said, pledging to keep “an open mind.”
In an unusual Saturday announcement, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated Lake Champlain cyanobacteria an endangered species.
The decision comes as a result of a petition filed by a new regional environmental organization made up of a broad-based coalition of farmers, developers and municipal officials. Their concerns come as long-term projections based on anticipated changes in policy around stormwater and wastewater runoff and agricultural practices suggest hard times ahead for native cyanobacteria, known colloquially as blue-green algae.
In the announcement, an EPA spokesperson noted the potentially catastrophic threats to cyanobacteria habitat in coming years. “Policymakers have been discussing wholesale changes to stormwater and agricultural runoff policy with wanton disregard to the potentially devastating impact on this local species. Although today’s EPA is strongly against regulation, we feel that this situation cannot be ignored.”
The Agency indicated it would be mandating a policy of sustained, targeted increases in crop fertilization and untreated municipal sewage dumps until such time that authorities deem the cyanobacteria population is found to be robust and stable.
The new Rutland City Mayor and Board of Alderman have begun the process of pushing back on negative press surrounding the recent Town Meeting Day elections. The media coverage, which has gone national, has at times characterized the city’s recent vote as driven by intolerance or even outright even racism, in light of election results widely seen as a referendum on ousted-Mayor Louras’s efforts to open the city to Syrian refugees.
The new administration, in an effort to turn the page on the issue and respond to accusations of bigotry, has just adopted a new city motto which officials feel will help set the record straight on the issue.
“Quidam amici optimi mei sunt Musulmanus,” which translates from Latin to read “Some of my best friends are Muslim,” will now be emblazoned on the seal of the city. Officials are confident this change should be enough to put an end to the negative publicity once and for all.
On Saturday, Vermont supplemented recent directives limiting state and local cooperation with federal immigration authorities with a formal statement declaring itself a “Sanctuary state.” The action provoked swift action from US Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In the face of reports that the federal government may not legally be able to follow through on threats to funding from sanctuary cities and states, the Department of Justice immediately implemented a new strategy in response.
“We will be deploying a force of Sandmen, who will be empowered to use any force to prevent any and all ‘illegal’ runners from reaching this, or any Sanctuary.”
Sessions added that the new independent Sandman force would be supported by new head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Box the robot. The Attorney General noted Box’s solid record of utilizing ICE to prevent runners from reaching Sanctuary, even if they do manage to evade capture by Sandmen, or other immigration authorities.
In an unrelated story, satirists suggested that gags based on 70’s science fiction properties that had long since faded from collective memory would likely fail to resonate with readers, generally.
Facing prospects of a Senate filibuster for his Supreme Court nominee, President Trump made unprecedented use of the power of his office by signing an executive order which eliminates two influential opposition votes .
With a wave of the presidential pen, Trump has eliminated Vermont statehood, redubbing the former Green Mountain State as “Upper Alabama” and placing it under the authority of Alabama Governor (and Trump supporter) Robert Bentley.
The move has the immediate effect of retiring Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders, as every state is only allowed two Senators under the Constitution, improving the Senate math for the Trump administration on a whole host of issues. In addition, allowing Vermont’s general liberal population of 600,000 to be absorbed into conservative Alabama’s 1.8 million should have the desired effect of watering those Vermonters down as a political force on the state level, and in terms of the Electoral College.
Immediately following the signing ceremony, federal officials got right to work disseminating flags with 49 stars instead of 50, and repurposing the now-former Vermont Senators’ offices and seats on the Senate floor as retail sales space for Ivanka Trump’s clothing line.
Based on the immediate success of the executive order, administration officials are reportedly looking into applying the same strategy in regards to Massachusetts (with an eye toward its reconfiguring as “Texas North”), as well as declaring California a US Marshall Island.
Under cover of darkness last week, the Vermont Legislature had the Statehouse dismantled and moved (via flatbed trucks and National Guard helicopters) to an undisclosed location. According to insiders, the action was taken the day before embattled Senator Norm McAllister (R-Franklin County) was due to arrive for a committee hearing. McAllister was not informed that the Statehouse had been moved, or where it had been moved to.
There were a handful of reports of sightings of the golden dome, mostly in out-of-the-way or hard to reach locales. One Representative (who asked not to be identified) indicated that the moves would continue.
“We hear that Norm might’ve gotten wind of where we are, so we’ll probably be moving the building again tonight. WIth any luck, he’ll get lost trying to find us, which could buy us a few more days and save the taxpayers some of the relocation expenses. It aint cheap.”
When asked why the legislature doesn’t simply vote to expel the scandalized Franklin County Senator rather than continue to resort to such extraordinary means to insure he gets nowhere near the legislative spotlight, one anonymous Senator scoffed.
“Oh, please. Dealing with Norm is the last thing any of us want to do.
A few million dollars here and there to avoid it is a small price to pay.”