A recent announcement to close three rural Vermont State College campuses (since withdrawn, for now) raises the question, “does Chittenden County govern the rest of Vermont?” There is growing evidence that it does. Vermont must consider what “equal representation” in our state really means.

Media reports say the state colleges are running out of cash and will need $25 million to avoid insolvency. At the same time, UVM is asking for $25 million more, in addition to its annual $42 million allocation, to help its own Covid-19-related lost revenue. This despite the fact that UVM has a $566 million endowment.

At a time when three other state colleges in small rural Vermont towns face extinction, UVM boldly sticks out its hand for $25 million dollars, the exact amount the state colleges outside of Chittenden County need just to survive. UVM functions on a financial plane far above the state colleges. For example, the reconstruction of the athletic facility alone costs $95 million.

Here is the interesting part in all of this — media reports say six of the 13 trustees of the state college board, including the chair, live in Chittenden County. None live in Randolph, Lyndon or Johnson, the host towns for the three campuses slated for closure. The Vermont State College Board of Trustees is only one example of Chittenden County’s power and dominance imbedded in state government.

Chittenden County’s influence is also seen with the UVM Medical Center in Burlington continues its steady march across our state, seeking to be Vermont’s single healthcare provider.

Chittenden County consists of 20 towns and holds 36 seats in the Vermont House and six of 30 seats in the Vermont Senate. A seventh senator lives in Colchester but represents Grand Isle. Yet the 63 Northeast Kingdom towns of Caledonia, Essex and Orleans counties have just 17 representatives. Essex County alone has 17 towns (just three shy of Chittenden County), but just two House representatives and two senators.

There is more. Of the 13 major House committees seven have a chair or vice-chair from Chittenden County. Of the 12 major Senate committees Chittenden holds eight chairs or vice-chairs. Chittenden alone has 36 of the 76 votes needed to pass a bill in the House. It controls six or seven of the 16 votes needed to pass legislation in the Senate.

As each election year passes Chittenden County grows more and more liberal. Burlington’s political power is now void of political diversity. Controlled by liberal Democrats and likeminded Progressives, the City Council’s political diversity no longer exists, nor is it tolerated by city voters.

It is in the Legislature that Chittenden power threatens the rest of Vermont. It is there that state laws affecting all Vermonters are written and passed. It is there that mandates affecting all of us personally, our businesses, our local education systems and our taxes are created and it is there that all state and federal funding is disbursed throughout our state.

Chittenden County, with politicians politically and culturally separated from rural Vermont, controls legislative committees and the House and Senate floors.

So, it begs the question: does Chittenden County govern the rest of our state? Is there true equal representation in the makeup of the Legislature? Should the rest of Vermont challenge in court how we apportion seats in the Legislature?

After more than two decades of single party rule in Montpelier, political balance must be restored. A fight to change apportionment could take years. It may never happen. One party ruling as a super majority and one county having so much political power statewide is unhealthy to democracy and a possible death knell for rural Vermont.

The solution is before Vermont voters. Choose your representatives wisely. Vote to restore balance to the concentrated power and thinking that now exists in the State House. Until that happens, Vermont outside of Chittenden County will continue to be treated like a backwater.

 

  • Chittenden Country and its gaggle of Liberals be it City Seats or in the State House, they rule the roost and it is very slated and the remainder of the state has little or no real voice…………… Just watch & listen to the shenanigans under the golden dome !!

    Committee Seats are a joke, seats are filled to support agenda policies only, State concerns are not even a topic………… pretty sad, but we let it happen. Wake up, people……………..

     

    • Thanks John for your point of view!! This state is in terrible shape and does need to be more evenly split, ,so that those of us outside of Chitt. County do have a chance to put this state on a more level path going forward. Right now we are headed a hundred miles an hour into the ground!!

      I care what happens to us all and will VOTE accordingly, will you??

  • Well it’s about time! I have been harping on this for a long time. Prior to a politically motivated decision and supported by the Warren supreme court, the 1963 case forced states to elect state senate districts by population. Prior to that faulty decision the Vermont senate had one or two senators per county. The senate was supposed to by the deliberative body for laws being passed by the lower chamber, the house of representatives. The senate was to ensure laws passed represented the state as a whole and not a specific district or county. In other words, equal representation. This case needs to be brought in front of the Vermont supreme court and then appealed all the way to the US Supreme court. The house of representatives is already decided by population per district. As it is now, Chittendon county gets 6 senators and Washington gets 3 because of population. This is counter to the original concept and creates the Chittendon/Washington county power base of 9 liberal votes in the senate. Add the one in Colchester and you have 1/3 of the senate votes are liberal/progressise out of the 30 member senate.

    So who out there knows how to get this started? The current legislature won’t take their own power away. Maybe a petition drive in the rural counties would get it going. Every taxpayer outside of Chittendon and Washington county are being taxed and controlled through restrictive laws without representation. Remember that line, “taxation without representation”. That’s what we have now with the super majority. It’s their way or the highway. In other words, you have no say in anything!

     

  • Yes I fully agree. Balanced Representation is needed. Also if I recall Vermont does not have a State Electoral College? Like our founders of the constitution, Vermont should create its own for major elections. This would allow all Vermonters to have their vote voice heard, instead of be weighted by the popular vote!

 

via John LaBarge: Time for Chittenden dominance of Legislature to end — True North Reports