Lieutenant governor candidates spar on ‘Switchboard’

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(Host) The three major party candidates for lieutenant governor debated a wide variety of issues Tuesday night in a special debate on Vermont Public Radio.

Republican Brian Dubie, Democrat Peter Shumlin and Progressive Anthony Pollina discussed Act 60, health care, Act 250, abortion rights and whether or not lawmakers should elect a candidate who does not receive the most votes in this race.

Last week, Pollina said he would allow the Legislature to elect him if he finished in second place behind Shumlin. That statement has drawn a lot of criticism from Shumlin. Tuesday night, Pollina said he would support the candidate who receives the most votes to end the partisan bickering over this issue:

(Pollina) “So if it helps to get to the real issues – health care, property taxes and what not – I’ll say let’s take the hypothetical off the table. I’m only going to accept if I’m the highest vote getter and we won’t talk about hypotheticals anymore, if that makes people nervous.”

(Host) Shumlin and Dubie sparred several times over abortion. Shumlin, who is pro-choice, said he would never vote for any bill that limits a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. Dubie, who supports a right to life position, was asked by Shumlin if he would support legislation to ensure that funds would be available to low income women who want to have an abortion. Dubie said the issue was not one of his top priorities:

(Dubie) “I am not proposing restricting Medicaid funding for abortions, Senator.”
(Shumlin) “So you would vote yes?”
(Dubie) “I’m saying, I’m not proposing it. But I’m also being honest to say that we’re going to have to look at everything. That is not why I am running this campaign!”

(Host) The three candidates also disagreed on possible reforms to Act 60. Pollina wants an education financing system that is based primarily on a person’s income. Dubie backed a plan to eliminate the sharing pool of Act 60, while Shumlin proposed linking a community’s statewide property tax rate to its spending level on education.

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