Montpelier, VT – The Vermont Republican House Caucus is gravely concerned by the partisan decision of Speaker Shap Smith to stack the House Health Care Committee with Democratic Legislators that are supportive of Governor Shumlin’s healthcare agenda while reducing the number of Republicans on the committee from three to two.
Health Care Reform in the form of Governor Shumlin’s Single payer healthcare will result in the largest tax increase in Vermont history and all Vermonters deserve to be heard and represented in these very important decisions. Changing the committee structure is purely a partisan move to advance the Governor’s agenda. Vermonters will now be kept in the dark by the Shumlin administration and their allies in the legislature until the tax bill comes due in 2017.
In addition, the House Health Care Committee is responsible for oversight of Vermont’s Health Care Reform laws including Vermont Health Connect and the tens of millions of dollars spent on the IT system to run VHC. As of today, much of the VHC website has failed to work. It has been Republican members who have asked the tough questions and provided the oversight.
“I am very disappointed in the decision of Shap Smith to remove me from the Heath Care Committee. I thought I was a contributing member to that committee in that my business experience added a well rounded perspective and one that is lacking in that body. Realizing that my approach is one that is not always appreciated of wanting to get things done in the “right” way, it seems that the current majority does not think that way. With all due respect to my replacement it will take a great deal of time to become acclimated to the issues and be effective on the committee regardless of one’s experience in government. I wish the committee the best without me”, said John Mitchell R-Fairfax.
Doug Gage R-Rutland summed it up as follows, “Speaker Smith and Governor Shumlin should be focusing on fixing the problems in their attempt to reform healthcare, not getting rid of the people raising tough questions and pointing out the flaws in their design and implementation. We need true leadership on this issue, leadership that the Republican members of the committee have been providing.”
“Speaker Smith decided Friday to “shift the balance” on the House Health Committee. I am baffled as to how the speaker thinks he is bringing a balance to the committee structure from 6 Democrats, 3 Republicans, 1 Progressive and 1 Independent to the new structure of 7 Democrats, 2 Republicans, 1 Progressive and 1 Independent. The issues that come before us in Montpelier should never be party driven and in this case it is obvious that they are. Once again, this demonstrates the arrogance of political power that comes with one party, super majority rule. The losers in this partisan political gamesmanship are the tax payers of the State of Vermont, Vermonter’s deserve better,” stated committee member Mary Morrissey R-Bennington
“It is a sad day in Vermont when the heavy hand of the Governor and the Speaker are used to silence the minority to ram through their agenda,”concluded Minority Leader Don Turner.