I read the commentary “Many people can’t afford to be state legislators” by Sens. Ruth Hardy, D-Addison, and Becca White, D-Windham, with interest. What was more interesting, however, was what these senators did not say in their commentary.
I generally agree with S.39 and support it. Vermont legislators do deserve better financial remuneration. Our legislators work hard for us, often against impossible odds. It’s excellent that we have such a diverse legislature of different ages and backgrounds, with so many more women in it.
What I have problems with is when Sens. Hardy and White write, “Importantly, S.39 would also provide legislators access to health insurance, on the same terms as any state employee.”
Not said here is that, to date, our Legislature has consistently denied us “average Vermonters” this same kind of access. There are two bills in the House and Senate, for example, to provide universal primary care for all Vermonters, including legislators, just sitting on the walls of the committee rooms.
Sens. Hardy and White wrote that, “while over 95% of Vermonters have health insurance coverage, some state legislators do not.” Well, whose fault is that? The buck stops at the Legislature. Not said here is how many of these 95% are underinsured, meaning that while insured in name, they cannot use it because of atrociously high deductibles.
What about the 5% of the uninsured Vermonters? Maybe we should think beyond just legislators. Why not all of us?