8-20-15 – Endorsements Give Insight into Where Smith Would Take Vermont

by Rob Roper

When Vermont Speaker of the House, Shap Smith (D-Morristown) announced his run for the governorship, a small crowd of fellow house lawmakers was on hand to lend their support. Who they were and what they said provide some good insights as to what a Governor Smith’s policy choices for Vermont would be, and what they would mean for the state.

Rep. Tony Klein (D-East Montpelier) is chair of the house Energy and Natural Resources Committee. According to Vermont Digger, Klien endorsed Smith “… because he ‘knows firsthand what Smith stands for,’” which, presumably given his support, is in line with what Klein stands for.

In 2015, Klien ushered through legislation (Act 56) that mandates Vermont get 75% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2032. This will, according to David Blittersdorf of All Earth Renewables, require the development of 200 miles of Vermont ridgelines (Vermont is only 154 miles long at its widest point) with industrial wind towers. An equal or greater amount of power will have to come from thousands of acres of solar panels. And, if Klein has his way, this is only the beginning of a plan that will mandate Vermont get 90% of its power, including home heating and transportation, by 2050. This policy will radically alter the signature landscape of Vermont, as well as drive our electric bills through the roof.

In 2015, Klein and his committee also laid the groundwork for a $500,000,000 state Carbon Tax, which would in part be used to subsidize this radical “green” agenda. The tax would add over a dollar to the price of each gallon of gasoline and home heating fuel.

Rep. Kate Webb (D-Shelburne), the Majority Whip, said, again according to Digger, “Smith knows how to negotiate with gun rights advocates and gun control activists, labor groups and businesses.” Given that Webb was one of the legislators on the anti-Second Amendment group Gunsense Vermont’s donor list and was endorsed by both the VTNEA and the Vermont State Employees’ Association, it’s not hard to figure out where she’d like to see those negotiations to go.

Rep. Janet Ancel (D-Calais) chairs the House Ways & Means Committee – the chief tax-writing committee in the House. This is significant as Shap Smith has been a vocal advocate of expanding the Vermont sales tax to include services since 2012. A sales tax on services would, of course, make things like getting a haircut, having your house painted and lawn mowed, hiring a lawyer or an architect, etc. more expensive for everybody. It would also create an accounting and liability nightmare for many Vermont small businesses.

One of Smith’s selling points is that, as Speaker, he has never brought a vote to the floor of the House that didn’t pass. This is testimony to his ability to build consensus (or to twist arms and break kneecaps — one recalls Rep. Bob South in tears after being “consensused” by Smith and Co. to cast the deciding vote for same sex marriage). But one of the most famous examples of this came in 2009 when Smith orchestrated the override of then Governor Douglas’ budget veto – a policy decision that has in great part led to Vermont’s now structural deficit, and annual spending increases that are consistently double or triple the rate of inflation.

– Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

H. Brooke Paige August 21, 2015 at 12:57 pm

Governor Smith would be a younger version of his mentor and “good buddy” Putney Pete – something Vermont will not be able to survive .

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