Statehouse Rift Grows Over Jobs Bill

Print More

(Host) This week may be remembered as the time in the 2010 session when the bi-partisan cooperation between Republican Governor Jim Douglas and Senate Democratic leaders fell apart.

The fight is over the future of a jobs bill and the bitter disagreement could affect the consideration of other budget related issues in the coming weeks.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) What a difference a day makes. On Wednesday, the governor told reporters that he didn’t veto a bill moving up the state’s primary election date because he didn’t want to shatter the bi-partisan spirit that’s existed between his office and the Legislature during the 2010 session:

(Douglas) "Because I think that’s very important. A number of you and others have talked about the difference in tone between last year and this year…this is not an important matter – it would set up a divisive fight at a time when we need to focus on more important issues."

(Kinzel) But 24 hours later, Douglas summoned a group of reporters into his office to lambaste the Senate for delaying consideration of a jobs bill. Douglas says the plan is designed to pump $8.5 million of federal stimulus money into a variety of programs to help create at least 1000 jobs in the coming months:

(Douglas) "It’s April. This jobs bill was introduced in January. It’s a very simple bill – it should have been on my desk by the end of that month. Vermonters don’t understand – especially when legislators say jobs will be the top priority of this session. And then they wait months and months before passing a jobs bill.

(Kinzel) And Douglas says there are dozens of companies that are ready to benefit from this bill:

(Douglas) "Nor will I be able to tell the Commerce Agency that we have the money they need to get the training program continued for 38 companies that are ready to train employees or upgrade their skills."

(Kinzel) Senate Majority leader John Campbell defended the delay. He said the Senate is conducting a thorough review of the bill and he says getting it right is more important than doing it fast:

(Campbell) "We do not want to go ahead and throw money after something that is not going to make sense. We want to make sure that this money affects and helps businesses and the people who are facing unemployment or facing potential job loss. We’re going to do our job and do it with due diligence."

(Kinzel) And Campbell says Douglas’s record on creating new jobs leaves a lot to be desired:

(Campbell) "The governor came in – was it 8 years ago – and he had said right from the very beginning that ‘Jim equals jobs’.  And I think if you look back at the records, the only people that have really done and taken some forceful steps in job creation and trying to help our economy has been the legislature."

(Kinzel) Campbell says he’s confident that the legislation will receive final approval early next week and then be sent to the governor for his signature.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

Comments are closed.