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Political notes from Free Press staff writers Terri Hallenbeck, Sam Hemingway and Nancy Remsen



Douglas pitches his plans at chamber breakfast

Sometimes I wish we had the tradition of the British Parliament in the Legislature and at sessions such as the today's breakfast sponsored by the Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Burlington Industrial Corp. You know the tradition I'm talking about -- "hear, hear" or the mumbling and shouts of displeasure.

I'm not looking for lack of civility so much as some reaction. Surely the more than 300 people who heard Gov. Jim Douglas outline his plans this morning have some reaction to his suggestions to freeze school spending, consider a merger of the University of Vermont and the state colleges and revise the permit system -- but there wasn't any detectable buzz. Just determined forking of eggs and bacon and coffee-drinking.

Too soon to decide? Too many nuances to consider?

Douglas warned the assembled business and civic leaders that the fiscal news would get worse tomorrow when economists present a revised revenue report for adoption by a special board on which he and four legislators sit.

"There is not a situation we there we can just tweak and tinker," he said. Nor would dismantling state government be the answer, he said. "We can't just make draconian cuts to our programs on which so many Vermonters rely."

Douglas acknowledged that his proposals, made in his inaugural address, hadn't received an enthusiastic response among legislators. "I outlined a few thoughts last week that were, in some cases, provocative."

He appealed to the business crowd when he explained his proposal to freeze school budgets at current levels. What business could have its customer base decline by 10 percent and afford to increase its staff by 25 percent? he asked.

He noted that state government faces the same challenges to belt-tightening as school districts -- fixed labor contract, increasing energy and health care expenses. "I say, welcome to my world."

The questions were submitted on cards -- which was more efficient, but took away any feeling the questioners might have expressed along their queries. Douglas was asked about the impact of divided government -- a Republican executive and Legislature dominated by Democrats.

He joked that voters didn't cast their ballots hoping for gridlock. Can he and legislative leaders work together? "I think we can. The fact that there are different perspectives I hope will be helpful," he said. "I'm sure there will be lot of back and forth ... that will make you wonder." Still he predicted eventual cooperation.

A lot of that back and forth could be short-circuited if the two sides could gauge public/political support for their positions. So how about some "hear, hears" on something.

-- Nancy Remsen

They do all their talking with each other at night. It's called pillow talk. Thomas Torti even offers to give Douglas a backrub while they rest.
They weren't enthusiastice for one of two reasons:

1. They are die hard R's and they are saying there is no way those no good Dems will pass any of the Governor's wondeful proposals so why bother getting excited.


2. They are politically astute and realize that the Governor's proposals are nothing more than politicaly positioning and know not even this Governor has the ability to pass legislation that a majority of Vermonters support (Act 250 and Ed Funding)

These people aren't stupid and know better than to waste their time on ideas that aren't going anywhere or on just more political grand-standing by the Governor.
Jim Douglas clearly has no clue how Vt's ed funding law works - which is surprising since the law we are working under now was authored by his administration and the then GOP controlled House in 2003.
...you mean gaye symington
You can thank Gaye Symington for the Ed mess.

I say Deb Markowitz for Governor
"After six years of doogie decline, the onus is on doogie to prove that he can work with the Legislature."

After 4 years of legislative nonsense, the onus is on the leg to prove that they can come back to Vermont from Hollywood and work with the Governor on Vermont issues.
Yeah Right!

Gov Douglas says that Vermonters expect the Governor and the Legislature to work together!

Unfortunately, Douglas' idea of working together i"his way or the highway".

He ahs never wanted to work WITH the legislature - he wants the legislature to work with him by agreeing with everything he wants.

If the legislature had agreed with everything he wanted - property taxes at eh local level would have increased by over $100 million dollars!!

This is fact!
To her credit, Kristin Carlson tried to pry an answer out of the governor about the ideological difference this weekend on that WCAX morning show. He gave her that "golly shucks" mouth twitch and then ignored the question and tried to blame all the problems on the bullies, sometimes known as Democrats.

It's amazing how he can continue to ignore the massive majority staring him in the face and act like he is the messiah, chosen to lead the people, so shut the F up. But then, it is the Domcrats, so even with a super majority, they still are only able to deliver superficial blows.
"It's amazing how he can continue to ignore the massive majority staring him in the face and act like he is the messiah, chosen to lead the people . . ."

Gee, maybe it's because those same people elected him to be Governor, and not Symington? D'ya think that could be it, maybe?
Markowitz all the way!
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