Jim Douglas

Commentator

Jim Douglas, a former governor of Vermont, is an executive in residence at Middlebury College.

Back when the General Assembly convened at the beginning of the year, I expressed the hope that each measure presented during the session would be critically judged by whether or not it would improve Vermont’s economic and fiscal health.

When I served in state government, inevitably we’d answer the phone on the 1st Wednesday in March and hear from perplexed callers from out-of-state: “Why didn’t you answer my call yesterday? Did you have problems with your phone system?” “No,” we’d reply, “it was a state holiday.” “Huh? What holiday?” “Why, Town Meeting Day, of course.”

Douglas: D.C. Déjà Vu

Feb 13, 2015

On February 27, at the stroke of midnight, if Democrats and Republicans in Congress can't reach agreement, funding for the Department of Homeland Security will expire. It’s the agency responsible for border and transportation security, the Secret Service, the Coast Guard, FEMA and immigration, among other entities; it’s the 3rd largest Federal department. More than 30,000 employees would be furloughed; federal grants, including those for disaster relief, could be delayed and many contracts would be at risk.

Utah just reported a large, unexpected surplus. In some recent years Texas created as many jobs as all other states combined. Natural resources have sparked economic expansion in North Dakota. States including Arkansas and North Carolina have reduced taxes to attract investment and growth.

There’s been a lot of controversy lately surrounding the Common Core State Standards for education. These are math and English skills that our students should be able to master at each grade level and are designed to position our graduates to compete more successfully with their counterparts around the world.
 

Douglas: Drugs

Jan 17, 2014

The Governor devoted his state-of-the-state address entirely to the rising tide of opiate addiction in Vermont and strategies to combat it. I’ll leave to others the task of weighing in on whether that was appropriate, to the exclusion of pressing issues such as a shrinking workforce, rising property taxes, uncertainty in health insurance coverage and access to affordable energy.

Douglas: Shut Down

Oct 8, 2013

For at least the 18th time in the past 4 decades, we’re experiencing a government shutdown because Congress has failed to approve a budget. As a result, all but essential Federal employees are not on the job.

But unless you’re planning a visit to a national park or a burial at Arlington, you may not notice. Our armed forces are still protecting us, airplanes are flying , and Social Security benefits continue to be paid. In fact, when one late-night talk show host asked his audience if anyone was concerned about the shutdown - n o one was.

A recent survey reported that the condition of Vermont’s roads and bridges improved dramatically in 2009 and published comments have graciously acknowledged the contribution my administration made to that progress.

In 1854 a group of disgruntled Democrats joined with Whigs and Free Soilers to form a new political party. Their goal was to stop the expansion of slavery. They called themselves ‘Republicans.' Their second Presidential nominee, Abraham Lincoln, prevailed and the GOP dominated our national elections until the New Deal. Freed slaves flocked to the party of the Great Emancipator.