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Shumlin: 'A Six-Year Term Is Perfect For A Vermont Governor'

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Angela Evancie
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VPR/file
Gov. Peter Shumlin is still in office for another 18 months, and he doesn't think his decision not to seek reelection will affect his ability to get things accomplished in that time frame.

Gov. Peter Shumlin announced Monday that he will not seek re-election to a fourth, two-year term. On Tuesday morning, Shumlin spoke with VPR about his decision.

"Truthfully, I have always felt that a six-year term is perfect for a Vermont governor. And then I thought that as the time drew closer, as often happens in life, that maybe I'd find all kinds of reasons why that wasn't true, but that didn't happen. It's been an extraordinary privilege. I've got 18 months of hard work left to do, but by January 2017 I feel that we will have completed everything that I've wanted to get done, with one exception," he said.

That exception is of course a publicly-financed health care system, which Shumlin said in December was not financially viable. "That's not going to happen no matter how long I stay. I also felt very strongly that if we don't get health care costs under control it will bankrupt us – every single Vermonter, frankly, [and] businesses. So I think we will get that done by moving Vermont, or being on the road to moving Vermont, from a fee-for-service driven system where we chase quantity in health care to one where we pay for quality. And I'm excited about that."

The governor is still in office for another 18 months, and he doesn't think his announcement will affect his ability to get things accomplished in that time frame.

Shumlin says Vermont is one of two states where governors are elected every two years, so making the decision now is helpful for him, for Vermont and for his team. "Everything that we do will not be seen as, 'Oh, you know, you're trying to get your boss – in the case of my cabinet and hardworking administration – or myself reelected.' We're able for 18 months to do what is right for Vermont and not be questioned every step of the way that we're politically motivated."

"We're able for 18 months to do what is right for Vermont and not be questioned every step of the way that we're politically motivated." - Gov. Peter Shumlin

Shumlin said he's accomplished more than he deemed possible: creating 16,000 new jobs, universal pre-K, dual enrollment college programs for high school students. He doesn't think legislators will be distracted in the next session by the open gubernatorial field.

"I am devoted to making this economy work for every single Vermonter. I feel incredibly privileged that I was born and raised in the state I grew up as a kid, fighting dyslexia. A lot of folks didn't think it was going to be an easy ride for me. And I've had extraordinary success in Vermont. I ran for governor not because I wanted to be a career politician. I have no interest in doing that. I have always wanted to go back to private life and being a business person ... But I always wanted to give back to the state that I love."

With his remaining time in office, Shumlin says he'll focus on moving away from a fee-for-service health care model, implementing universal pre-K, passing a paid family leave bill and continuing to make progress on criminal justice reform and Vermont's heroin crisis.

"I ran for governor not because I wanted to be a career politician. I have no interest in doing that. I have always wanted to go back to private life and being a business person."

Shumlin declined to endorse any particular candidate, but said that he wanted to ensure that a Democrat took office in Vermont.

"I very much want to see a Democrat elected governor of this state," he said. "Democrats win in presidential years. I think we've got a real shot to break the cycle this time. I know it's been going Democrat, Republican since 1963 but because I think I'm opening this up for a presidential year we have a really good shot of winning. I think Vermonters appreciate the work we've been doing and they don't want to see it undone."

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