Outgoing Governor Peter Shumlin Bids Farewell To Legislature
Vermont’s legislative session began Wednesday and one of the first orders of business was a farewell speech to legislators by outgoing Governor Peter Shumlin.
The legislature began the day with routine start of session business including committee assignments and a brief welcome speech by new Speaker of the House, Democrat Mitzi Johnson.
“I thank you for entrusting me to serve as your speaker and as the third woman speaker of this state. Together we'll continue to bring, to build a stronger more prosperous future for Vermont and I look forward to getting to work.”
The afternoon was dedicated to a joint session to hear outgoing Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin’s farewell address. He thanked those who had served in his cabinet and administration. He also praised incoming Republican Governor-elect Phil Scott. “I've known Phil for a long,long time. And I know that Phil cares deeply about this great state. And I know that he will serve our state honorably as Vermont’s 82nd governor. Congratulations Phil.”
Shumlin outlined the challenges he faced when he first took office six years ago including decrepit bridges, spotty broadband access, an opiate crisis and lack of health insurance access for Vermonters. He says the state is vastly different today. “We added almost 16,000 jobs in the last six years. Our unemployment rate has fallen every year that I've had the privilege of being governor. We've cut in half the number of failing roads and bridges in this state. And we’ve rebuilt the Waterbury state office complex. It was the biggest construction project in the history of our state. We did it on time and on budget. And a new state-of-the-art mental health facility in Berlin. On January 1st Vermont's minimum wage increased for the third year in a row. And lower wage Vermonters no longer have to choose between going to work sick or losing their job.”
Shumlin also praised his administration’s energy accomplishments including the closure of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. “Today Vermont Yankee is shuttered. We have twelve times the number of solar panels and twenty-five times the amount of wind power, which I still say is the most efficient renewable available to us, and our utilities are transforming into cutting edge energy efficiency companies. Working together we've passed a groundbreaking renewable energy standard. I just want to point out today we enjoy the second lowest electric rates in New England.”
While he will no longer be in the Statehouse, the outgoing governor tasked legislators to continue working on several of his priorities. “In the last year Vermont has seen an almost 30 percent decline in homelessness. We need to keep our foot to the peddle. Vermont has continually stood up to big Pharma in the past and I call upon you to keep up the fight now more than ever. We also have more work to do to realize the promise of a cleaner lake and a more livable planet. With your vigilance we need to meet the requirements of the T.M.D.L. and we've got to keep our green energy revolution moving forward.”
Shumlin also took time to criticize President-elect Donald Trump. “We're entering an era of narrow outdated ways of thinking emboldened by a divisive and contemptuous president-elect. Our nation has stumbled backwards and America needs Vermont’s leadership now more than ever.”
Immediately following the speech, Governor Shumlin’s official portrait was unveiled.