I’m trying to make sense of the recent VPR-Vermont PBS 2020 poll done in conjunction with Castleton University. I’m not having much luck.

A strong majority — 74% — favored raising the minimum wage. A majority — 56% — favored the family leave bill even if it meant a tax increase. But the poll said if the election were held today incumbent Gov. Phil Scott would beat David Zuckerman 52% to 29%. Which is odd, to say the least, because Scott vetoed both the minimum wage and the family leave bills, while Zuckerman strongly supports both pieces of legislation.

How can people support a governor who vetoes two bills that they strongly support, essentially voting against their own interests? The question seems especially relevant to our current COVID-19 health crisis.

Public safety concerns are causing considerable financial hardships to the very group of workers that would have benefited most from the family leave bill. Yet the Democratic-controlled Legislature failed to pass the 2019 bill which would have taken effect in time to help workers now, and failed by a single vote in the House to override the veto of the 2020 bill, which would have taken effect too late to help now.

Gov. Scott’s future popularity will likely depend upon on how he squires Vermont through these trying times. However the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds here in Vermont, I hope that we learn some hard lessons. Without the supports workers need, such as a livable wage and family leave, our economy cannot function properly.

Charlie Murphy


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