December 4, 2015

Governor Peter Shumlin
109 State Street, Pavilion
Montpelier, VT 05609

Dear Governor Shumlin,

I write today on behalf of Vermonters who are working harder — often at multiple jobs, for longer hours simply to make a wage that allows them to pay their rent or mortgage, fill their gas tanks, pay their bills and taxes, and put food on their table.

As you know — and as the most recent workforce report clearly shows — many Vermonters are frustrated and leaving the workforce, or moving out of state. In fact, there are 14,300 fewer Vermonters in our state’s workforce than when you first took office — and your Democrats took total control of state government — just 5-years ago. The number of employed Vermonters has dropped by 6,100 in that same period.

Your administration also announced on Tuesday that, just 5-months into the new fiscal year, Vermont is facing another $40-million budget deficit. Your team also informed legislators that they will confront an astounding $58-million deficit for next year. We think both numbers will continue to balloon.

And now, just days after once again promising Vermonters that the healthcare exchange, Vermont Health Connect, was fully functional, it was revealed that Vermonters are still being randomly dropped from the program at no fault of their own — and that it takes your program days, and sometimes weeks, to get them re-enrolled.

In light of the many problems your administration has created, many Vermonters are puzzled, even angered, by the recent revelation that next week you will leave Vermont to attend a global climate change conference in Paris, France. While we can appreciate why you would want to leave your many problems behind for a few days, that’s not leadership. And it’s certainly not the job you were narrowly re-elected to do.

It is not necessary for you to attend this meeting. It would be far more economical — and far more environmentally responsible — to send your thoughts in writing or attend by video conference. You’ve frequently touted the state’s telecommunication advances — you should be taking advantage of them now.

If, however, you continue to insist that this international conference requires the presence of Vermont’s governor, Vermonters deserve to know the answers to the following:

  • How much carbon pollution will be created from your flights to and from Paris? Do you have plans to personally offset this carbon pollution?
  • Who is paying for all elements of your trip to Paris? In light of the state’s fiscal challenges and the struggles of working families, you owe it to Vermonters to itemize the cost of this trip and note who is paying. That itemization should include automobile travel, airfare, lodging, meals, security, entertainment, etc. for you and any traveling companions. How large is your entourage?
  • Are you bringing any personal friends or relatives? If so, how can this be fairly characterized as an “official” trip?
  • Will you disclose discussions you may have about future employment with any federal agencies associated with this trip?
  •  Finally, we also understand that in addition to yourself and any of your traveling companions, that your Secretary of Natural Resources Deb Markowitz will also be personally attending the conference in Paris to educate world leaders about bicycles and other non-motorized transportation in Vermont. Please also answer each of the questions above for her travel.
  • In this holiday season, we urge you to give Vermonters the gift of leadership and elect to have both you and Secretary Markowitz participate in the Paris conference using economically and environmentally responsible alternatives that do not waste depleted taxpayer resources.

    In the spirit of transparency and Vermont’s legal requirement for disclosure of public records, we look forward to your prompt reply.

    Sincerely,

    David Sunderland, Chairman
    Vermont Republican Party