Camels, a moose, and a turkey: Highlights from Gov. Shumlin’s press conference

by Angela Chagnon

Gov. Peter Shumlin

At his weekly press conference, Governor Peter Shumlin defended his endorsement of a three percent provider tax that would have hit dentists (among others), as opposed to the 27 cent increase in the cigarette tax that passed the House last week.

Shumlin explained, “Any dentist in Vermont who is serving low-income people by serving Medicaid and Medicare customers, will get a reimbursement that’s better than what they’re making now. The dentists who choose not to serve low-income people should pay the 3% [provider tax] or serve low-income people and probably do better than they’re doing now. I’d rather see us make a choice like that than ask Vermonters who have an addiction to pay another 27 cents when they’re picking up a pack of Marlboros.” (Or, to make the article headline work better, a pack of Camels.)

Of course, the all-important issue of Pete the Moose came up. Earlier this year, Shumlin had said that he would pardon Pete and all the other wild animals trapped in the Irasburg elk farm’s enclosure.

“Well, I backed down on all the animals,” said Shumlin. “Or I shouldn’t say backed down, I think I sent you a mixed message. What I said was, we’ll let the biologists figure out what’s best for the other animals. I’d want to be sure that Pete the Moose continues to live and I issued him a pardon. So I did give sort of a murky response to that line, I apologize…I had my press people correct it within minutes of my murky answer.”

Concerning campaign finance, Shumlin pointed out that he had helped to pass Vermont’s campaign finance law several years ago that had been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court as unconstitutional. He said that Vermont’s attempts at campaign finance laws were “debatably productive”, and that “nothing we do in Vermont’s going to solve that problem.”

This is a good sign that S.20, a terrible “turkey” of a bill, is not going to fly. But one can never forget this is a zombie that refuses to die.