Late last night I was scrolling through social media and stumbled upon a post by our Governor that will forever be, at least in my mind, the highlight of the government's response during the COVID pandemic. Governor Scott took to Facebook to thank Treasurer Pearce and her team for coming in on a Sunday to process over 8,300 payments of $1,200 to folks who are stuck in the unemployment backlog. Our Governor recognized that Vermonters who have been unemployed for several weeks deserve their UI benefits no matter what technical and other processing difficulties the Department of Labor might be experiencing. On Friday afternoon, he ordered DOL to clear its backlog by Saturday night, and then further authorized the Treasury to issue $1200 checks (a prepayment of two weeks worth of the CARES Act's $600 weekly UI supplement) to anyone still waiting for benefits as of Sunday morning.
Governor Scott included two pictures in his Facebook post, both of he and Treasurer Pearce literally overseeing and helping with the processing of the roughly 8300 checks that will hit the mail this morning. Two statewide elected officials of opposite parties, on a Sunday, with their face coverings on working together to get assistance to Vermonters in need. To see this made me feel proud to be a Vermonter, and thankful for the Governor's efforts over the last several weeks.
Social media is a powerful tool to communicate great messages like the one the Governor shared with us Sunday - but it can also be a dangerous, unfair and unfortunate weapon that some folks wield with no regard for others. We've seen a great many of our neighbors take to social media to post untrue, unfair and unreasonable things about the state's response and about our Governor's decisions. I've seen folks call COVID a "hoax", call those of us who have followed the Governor's executive orders "sheep", and I've read far too many mean spirited comments down-talking Governor Scott and his response to this unprecedented crisis.
I truly believe that when Governor Scott wakes up every morning, his sole mission in public life is to make Vermont a better place to live. He lives his life with more integrity and empathy than perhaps any other high-ranking leader in the world. Those of us who've followed his decision making processes for years understand that that statement is not an embellishment, and might actually be an understatement. We owe him the same empathy that he has for us as he leads our state through this crisis. Imagine being in his shoes - where every decision you make causes literally either economic damage or death. We should all applaud and admire him for making the critical, life saving decisions that he's made so far, and we should support him in his decisions to come.
Stimulus payments, expanded unemployment and hundreds of billions of dollars in SBA loans aside - this Facebook post will be a memory I hope to one day share with my children when they ask about life during the pandemic. Vermont's current and future generations of leaders should look to this Governor as a benchmark - no matter what party they belong to or what policy they believe in.
Thank you, Governor Scott, for being the leader we need. God bless you and your team as you lead us forward.
Town of St. Albans