Victorious Shumlin Vows To Stay Course On Health Care, Energy Policy
11/07/12 5:50PM By John Dillon  Download MP3
Governor Peter Shumlin held his first post-election news conference at the Dynapower Company in South Burlington, a manufacturer of electricity storage devices used by the renewable energy industry. It's the kind of business the governor says he wants to promote through a green jobs agenda.
But as the governor worked the floor of the manufacturing plant shaking hands and chatting with workers, it seemed like the campaign was still on. A woman named Sally introduces herself and says she drives to work everyday from Roxbuy, a town damaged by Tropical Storm Irene.
"Great! Things are coming back. You guys are so great," Shumlin told her. "That community is coming back. Did you guys get flooded?"
Shumlin reminded the Roxbury resident that he had visited the flood ravaged community after Irene. The governor's response to that tragedy probably made him hard to beat in the 2012 election.
Shumlin crushed his opponent Republican Randy Brock by about 20 points. And the governor says his victory - and that of other Democrats in Vermont - shows that voters here are not swayed by political action committees or expensive ad campaigns.
"Listen, what Vermonters did yesterday was separate the political junk from the truth and reward and elect Vermonters from all parties who they were convinced were actually going to work for them," he said. "They didn't buy the big money. They didn't buy the distortions. They looked at the record... and they chose those elected officials who they thought would best continue the momentum that we have begun."
The governor said his agenda would remain focused on education, jobs, health care and energy policy. He said he would not move up plans for a single payer health system, which is not allowed under federal law until 2017. Shumlin said the Green Mountain Care Board will meanwhile lay the groundwork for changing the way doctors and hospitals are paid.
"And we'll have this two years in the legislative biennium to have a transparent discussion with every Vermonters who wishes to participate how we best move in 2017 from a premium-based system to a publicly financed system, where we all pay our fair share and we get it off the backs of businesses and grow jobs and economic opportunities. That's the plan," he said.
On energy issues, the governor also pledged to stay the course. Mountaintop wind has divided communities and even led to a write in campaign for governor. Republican candidate Randy Brock also called for a two year moratorium on large scale wind development. But Shumlin said voters showed they want more wind projects.
"All I can say is I think the returns speak to the fact that Vermonters understand that smart wind power makes sense, not everywhere, not in communities that don't want it, but in communities that want it, wind has a role in Vermont," he said.
The governor said there may be some changes in his cabinet and administration. He said he will meet with top-level officials soon to evaluate their role over the next two years.