This week Montpelier spoke with one voice as we took steps to prevent establishing any kind of government registry based on religion or race. The tri-partisan bill introduced at the Governor’s press conference Thursday is designed to block compliance with a muslim registry or other similar blatant discrimination.
Our actions balance our opposition [to discrimination] with the need for all of the valid data collection that happens routinely: drivers licenses, voter registration, medical information, Selective Service registration. The intent is to oppose hasty and unconstitutional edicts like President Trump’s executive order on immigration, as has been upheld by the federal courts.
Further, the Governor will need to approve federal requests to deputize state and local law enforcement to enforce federal law. As a state with an international border, Vermont has a long and mutually beneficial relationship with customs and immigration services. These actions do not affect those relationships, but add a level of review to changes to the status quo. As divisions and discord continue in Washington we can savor a rare moment of unity here in Vermont.
And it was indeed a brief moment of unity, until the Governor’s education funding proposals were killed in the legislature. Opposition centered on two elements; the timing (moving school budget votes to May 23, after months of work by school boards and supervisory unions to meet existing deadlines), and requiring school budgets to level-fund last year’s budget. Level funding actually would require cuts because of regular inflation and multi-year contracts which account for inflation. And that is not taking into account the the Governor’s proposal to move Pre-K, Higher Education, and teacher retirement commitments to the Education Fund, reliant on property taxes.