by Rob Roper
A recent article on the latest push by the legislature to raise the minimum wage to $15/hr. and pass mandatory paid family leave in Vermont contained this jaw-dropping bit of naiveté from the Vermont Chamber of Commerce – they actually expected politicians to stick to a backroom deal.
Betsy Bishop, the chief executive officer for the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, says raising the minimum wage again would break a deal she and other business interests made with Gov. Peter Shumlin, former House Speaker Shap Smith, and former Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell in 2014.
As part of that agreement, according to Bishop, the Vermont Chamber of Commerce agreed to support raising the minimum wage to $10.50 by 2018, as long as leaders in the Legislature did not try to pass paid sick leave or raise the minimum wage again after 2018. (VT Digger, 2/10/17)
First the obvious: none of those three people is still in office. It does happen occasionally that politicians leave or lose, and those that follow them have no obligation to keep any deal – and they’re not going to!
Remember the promises made to local school districts when the legislature first passed taxpayer-funded, universal pre-k? That the program would be “voluntary” and subject to local control? It was a lie. The locals stopped resisting; the state got its nose under the tent. A few years later that “deal” was tossed into the ash heap and the politicians mandated that all districts offer pre-k. Period.
And Act 46! Remember promises of cost containment to get Republican votes and protections for school choice to get Democrats in tuitioning districts on board? Rep. Cynthia Browning (D-Arlington) described that best: “He [Speaker Shap Smith] screwed over the Democrats, and reneged on his promise to Republicans.” (VT Watchdog). That reversal took about six months.
So anyone who thinks that the Vermont state is willing to compromise on its totalitarian/authoritarian goals in any meaningful, long term way is engaged in fantasy. The state only takes half a loaf (or even just a bite) today with the expectation of getting the whole loaf down the road.
The moral of the story is never give in.
- Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute