Brock points out disturbing trend from Shumlin Administration

by Rob Roper

Waterbury – On July 20th, the Shumlin Administration announced that that Vermont will likely not receive approximately $100 million in FEMA (Federal Emergency Management), money the state was counting on to help fund the rebuilding of the Vermont State Hospital and the state office complex damaged during Hurricane Irene. On Wednesday, July 31, Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Brock held a press conference to express his concerns with the financial ramifications as well as the lack of transparency and forthright communication from the Administration throughout the process.

(See video highlights of the press conference HERE.)

“When we [the legislature] dealt with the capital bill, which included the funding for these projects,” said Brock, “never was there any question raised to us, at least to my knowledge, that this funding was in jeopardy. Transparency is critical to the legislature and to the public in making good public policy.” Brock would later comment, “We should be asking why when there were documents such as those that were released yesterday that raise serious questions, why we didn’t see those documents earlier in the process. We didn’t.”

According those released emails between Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding and FEMA, as far back as January the administration knew that, “The decision about FEMA covering costs of building of building a new state hospital is months away.” In February, Spaulding was informed, “FEMA does not have the legal authority to make a conceptual ok [regarding the funding].” According to Brock, none of this information was made clear to legislators.

This allegation was denied by Spaudling, who said, “We tried to be transparent through the entire process.” However, Brock offered the evidence, “If there was not a clear anticipation [that Vermont would receive the money], why did every member of the Emergency Board indicate that they were shocked at what they heard?… We’re shocked because we were led to believe something that’s turned out not to be the case, and we should be asking why.”

Perhaps more disturbing than this single incident of ineptitude is the trend being set this governor and his administration of being excessively optimistic in regard to promises, and totally unprepared for reality. “This seems part of an all too familiar pattern that we hear from the Shumlin Administration,” he said. “‘Trust us. Everything is okay. The funding will work out in the end. And we’ll figure it out.’ And that’s not acceptable.”

Brock warned that the stakes are even higher with the governor’s promise to deliver a working single payer healthcare system. “We see the same pattern when it comes to the government funded Titanicare healthcare plan, in which, again, everything is murky,” said Brock. “We’ll see eventually what it costs, but we don’t know and there’s a complete absence of detail.”

That program is depending upon $300 to $500 million in federal funds and a number of iffy federal waivers for its success, and the Shumlin administration has still not put forward either financial plan for the system outlining how much it will cost and how it will be paid for, or an idea of what the benefits package will contain.

Back during the 2010 campaign then candidate Shumlin promised to spend $40 million on preschool programs with money saved through corrections reform. This led to a great deal of controversy when it was revealed that that funding plan would require the outright release of nearly 800 non-violent criminals from Vermont prisons. That wasn’t Shumlin’s intent, he just hadn’t really thought through the problem.

Asked if he thought the Administration deliberately misled the legislature over the FEMA funding, Brock said, “I’m saying based on the documents that were released yesterday, there were clear warning signs that funding was in jeopardy and that information should have been disclosed to the legislature at the time we voted, and it wasn’t…. There is lack of transparency, and this is not the first time that we’ve seen that…. In this particular case it appears to have blown up.”

(See video highlights of the press conference HERE.)