Outlook for 4-year term for Governor isn’t good

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(Host) Backers of a proposed constitutional amendment to create a 4 year term for governor say the outlook for their plan isn’t very good this year.

It’s uncertain if the proposal will even make it to the Senate floor for a vote.

VPRs Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Washington senator Bill Doyle is the lead sponsor of the proposed constitutional amendment.  Doyle notes that Vermont is one of just two states in the country to maintain a two year term for governor – the other is New Hampshire.

Speaking on VPR’s Vermont Edition, Doyle said there are a number of good reasons why this amendment should be adopted:

(Doyle) "We’re almost into continuous campaigns now many years ago that was not true you barely are elected when you’re embarking on your next campaign and the cost of campaigning begins to multiply it’s increases with each biennium…trying to position ourselves in a global economy compete in a global economy obviously if you have a four year term you can better prepare for that and long range planning is part of that."

The chairwoman of the Senate Government Operations committee, Windham senator Jeannette White opposes the amendment.

She argues that a 2 year term helps keep governors more accountable to voters and she thinks a 4 year term gives the executive branch too much power:

(White) "Right now I believe…the balance tips towards the executive branch because they have 24/7 people on and we have no staff and we’re at a disadvantage – we’re only here part of the time so that would be exacerbated by having a four year for governor and not the rest of us and by having the rest have 4 year terms I believe we’re losing the citizens legislature because we’re asking people to make 4 year commitments at a time."

An informal survey of the committee shows that a majority of its members don’t support the 4 year term amendment.  Doyle says he won’t call for a formal committee vote unless some senators change their mind on this issue:

(Doyle) "If they aren’t enough votes in committee very seldom do I ever see an adverse vote brought to the floor…and what that would do is maybe take 2 or 3 hours of debate when there was no hope and again maybe play part of the role of extending the Legislative session so I think that if this bill is to survive it should have to come out of committee with an affirmative vote."

The Senate Government Operations committee is expected to continue to discuss this proposed amendment in the next few weeks.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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