Lt. governor candidates agree on Legislature’s role in their race

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(Host) All three major party candidates for lieutenant governor are refusing to take a pledge to urge the Legislature to vote for the candidate who receives the most votes, in the event that the race is thrown to the General Assembly. That would happen if no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote on November 2.

In 2002, Republican Brian Dubie won a three-way race with roughly 41 percent of the vote and lawmakers elected Dubie at the start of the 2003 session.

Speaking Tuesday night on VPR’s Switchboard program, Dubie, Democrat Cheryl Rivers and Progressive Steve Hingtgen all said they support giving lawmakers some discretion if their race has to be decided by the Legislature. Dubie says it’s important that the Vermont Constitution be followed if no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote:

(Dubie) “I’m going to follow by the rule book, that’s kind of been my spirit. And the rule book is the constitution and it says this is the way it’s going to happen. And so that’s what I said two years ago, that’s what I’m telling you tonight.”

(Host) While the candidates agreed on this issue, they disagreed on the subject of taxes. Progressive candidate Hingtgen criticized Democrat Rivers for supporting Act 60 when she was chairwoman of the Senate Finance committee, because the final version relied heavily on a statewide property tax instead of using a more progressive income tax:

(Hingtgen) “What came out of the House was actually a proposal that I would have supported, which was one that had income as the center of it – something that really would have made sure that everybody paid according to their abilities. But when that bill came across the hall into the Senate where you were chair of Finance, it got changed and it become what we call Act 60 today and I think that was a real loss.”

(Host) Rivers said she was proud of her work on Act 60 and she pointed out that the law does contain an income sensitivity provision to protect low and moderate income people:

(Rivers) “I was operating with a Democratic governor that had said clearly that he would veto a bill, the kind of bill that you described. And so I worked very hard to try to get a compromise that made it so Vermonters would all pay, as many Vermonters as possible would pay back based on their income.”

(Host) Incumbent Brian Dubie says he supports the principles of Act 60 and he says changes to the law adopted by the Legislature in 2003 included significant improvements to the legislation.

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