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Explore our coverage of government and politics.

Shumlin Aide Fires Back At Lisman Over Criticisms

A spokesman for Gov. Peter Shumlin defended the third-term Democrat after Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Lisman Tuesday morning after Lisman spent much of his Monday morning campaign launch criticizing the governor's tenure.

“It takes something special for a guy who was part of the Wall Street machine that drove the economy into the worst recession since the Great Depression to talk about mismanagement,” Coriell wrote before giving his assessment of the Shumlin administration.

Lisman made no effort in his remarks Monday to be diplomatic in his assessment of Shumlin’s work as governor.

“I decided to run because I thought – honestly, I thought this administration was so remarkably and relentlessly incompetent that we should do something,” Lisman said at his campaign launch.

Despite the Shumlin administration’s high-profile failure to develop a workable financing plan for government-funded universal health care, Coriell said the administration has helped make medical care more accessible to Vermonters. He also trumpeted a new education reform law that Lisman pledged to repeal at his campaign launch on Monday.

“Here are the facts from the governor’s tenure: We’ve driven down our uninsured rate and are now tied with Massachusetts for the lowest rate in America. After decades of talk but no action, we have finally passed an education reform bill that will enhance quality and help address rising property taxes,” he wrote.

Coriell outlined a series of what he considers legislative and policy victories for the Shumlin administration.

“Next year, Vermont will be the first state in America to guarantee universal Pre-K to every three and four year old. We have passed legislation to ensure Vermonters have the right to know what is in their food. We have raised the minimum wage and put in place measures to help Vermont kids get up to two years of free college,” he wrote. “We’ve made incredible progress on expanding broadband internet access. We helped shut down an aging nuclear power plant, all while ensuring Vermonters have seen electricity rate decreases while other states have seen the opposite.”

Coriell, who has worked in the Shumlin administration since September 2013, also took issue with Lisman’s claims that the state’s economy is suffering under Shumlin.

“And Vermont has one of the lowest unemployment rates in America, thanks in no small part to the governor’s push for renewable energy,” Coriell said.

Lisman proposed a two-year moratorium on all industrial renewable energy development in Vermont, a markedly different approach from Shumlin’s. The governor has repeatedly said the renewable energy sector and other efforts to address climate change should be seen as economic opportunities for Vermont.

“The clean energy industry, which Mr. Lisman wants to shutter, now supports over 16,000 working Vermonters,” Coriell said. “Shutting down an industry that supports 1 in 20 Vermont workers is definitely an out-of-the-box economic development plan.”

Coriell’s defense of his boss comes as the governor approaches his final year in office. Shumlin announced in June that he will not seek a fourth term in 2016. His tenure is set to come to an end in January 2017.

Taylor was VPR's digital reporter from 2013 until 2017. After growing up in Vermont, he graduated with at BA in Journalism from Northeastern University in 2013.
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