Wednesday, June 3, 2009


The Vermont House of Representatives voted 100-50 to override Gov. Jim Douglas' veto of the legislature's budget.

This is a huge political victory for Speaker Shap Smith, and a sure sign that the power dynamic in Montpelier has changed for the remainder of the biennium. No more can Gov. Douglas count on the veto to sustain his conservative agenda.

While Speaker Smith will justifiably get the lion's share of the credit, don't forget about the very able Majority Leader, Rep. Floyd Nease, who is responsible for making sure they get the votes.

Among the other winners are: Sen. Peter Shumlin, who orchestrated a 23-5 vote in the Senate, and advocacy organizations who mounted considerable opposition to the Governor's proposed budget.

Oh yeah, and let's not forget the biggest winners of all - middle-class, working, and low-income Vermonters. This includes Vermont property tax payers who will not have to worry about the massive property tax increase Jim Douglas had in mind. The social safety net remains intact, if a little tattered. But the fight is really just beginning. Next session look for another attempt to cut social programs.

It will be interesting to see who wins the spin wars: Douglas will claim the Democrats now "own" both the budget, and the economy. Democrats should insist that Douglas take responsibility for getting us into this mess, and that they prevented his massive property tax increase. The real question will be this: does the economy turn around? If it does, the Dems will get all the credit and Douglas will be in real trouble. If it doesn't, Douglas is going to blame all the ills of the world at the feet of the Democrats. Will voters buy it?