by Rob Roper
Ken Atkins (D-Winooski) has put in a bill (H.376) that would create a death benefit of $10,000 for the dependents of any legislator who dies in office. Why now? Why at all? Just ‘cuz?
It’s a bit of a morbid subject, though just within in the last few weeks two sitting members of the House were hospitalized by heart attacks (Rep. Greg Clark (R-Vergennes) and Rep. Phil Winters (R-Williamstown)). In the past year Representatives Ira Trombley (D-Grand Isle), Sonny Audette (D-South Burlington) and Rick Hube (R-Londonderry) passed away.
No one will argue that Vermont legislators, particularly at the state House and Senate level, are in politics to get rich. However, given the economic times we are in and the $170 million budget gap the state is facing, this seems to be a particularly bad time for the legislature to be awarding themselves more perks (though I’m sure this is one perk none of them would want to cash in on.)
And besides, do we really need to provide politicians with more incentives to stay in office longer than they otherwise might?