The Issues

My Legislative Priorities

Economic development that promotes high paying jobs

Quick Snip:  Building houses alone does not constitute Economic Development. Economic development HAS to have a component involving GOOD PAYING JOBS.

The expanded discussion:  Burlington is in the midst of a significant growth spurt in housing in the city.  I didn’t say AFFORDABLE housing since it is a word that implies one thing, but to many folks has a wide range of meanings…, rent, buy, maintain, heat, share-so many expectations, but in this market, a LOT of the unsubsidized housing is still not what many of the target audience, seniors and young families, can afford.

Economic Development potential in our town must embrace both housing cost and adequate access to jobs that pay more than minimum wage if the economy of Burlington is going to prosper and bring ALL citizens up the livability index ladder.  Simply building condos and apartments does not in and of itself constitute economic development.

In addition, our infrastructure must promote Burlington as a city that has its house in order.

Ensuring our tax dollars are wisely spent

Quick Snip:  We pay taxes to get something DONE.  We should strive to get it done in an efficient manner, but one that serves the long range goals of Vermont’s citizens and the state’s economic health.

The expanded discussion:  My focus today is a recently reported news story, where many of our prison population are now being (once again?) transported to another out of state facility where our taxes will enrich another community by providing Jobs to their workers and money to their local businesses.   VERY shorted sighted in my opinion.

Point one, we are enriching a private corporation that has no allegiance to Vermont, pays us no taxes back on their business, and is simply a cash OUT situation.  Point two, the facility provides little to no REHABILITATION for our prison population-which is a core principle of our end goal with much of the population in our jails.   Point three, we “get back” a population that has mixed with offenders who are possibly much more hardened than the population we send away, returning criminals who have effectively been to Crime academy for several years.  Lastly, we still bear the financial burden of providing the treatment for behavior change  at the end of the offenders sentence, when they return to Vermont.

This is just one example of our need to take care of our business at home and do it the Vermont way.  Private prison corporations should not be a part of the solution.

Fair taxation

Quick Snip:  The ratio of Income and Property taxation can be adjusted to reflect a fair and more equitable system- to better fund our infrastructure of Roads, Bridges, Schools, and public resources.

The expanded discussion:  In our neighborhoods, many of our senior citizens, having lived in their homes for decades, are finding they are being taxed out of the very houses they have called home, some for their entire lifetime.   This is a pressing concern and one that should be addressed in Montpelier NOW!

One could actually ask why it was not addressed YEARS ago by seated legislators!

I believe a mix of property and income based taxation is the key to fairness in the school taxation area.  I do not believe that converting the system completely to income based is the best way to go, but do feel that leaning more on that side of the equation is the fairer and more reliable means.  It is unrealistic to hope that the overall tax burden will be lowered.  However, rising property values, and incomes that suddenly become primarily social security after retirement or the death of a spouse should not force a change in your housing prospects.

Affordable health insurance and care

Quick Snip:  We took a first swipe at trying to get the profit gougers out of our health care payment system.  It failed.  We should revisit that initiative.

The expanded discussion:  Several years ago, under Governor Shumlin, an attempt to restructure out health care payment system was launched.  Eventually, due to forces outside the system, the initiative failed to reach a point where a system of payment could be implemented to restructure our financial management of healthcare dollars and services.

As a retired government employee, I take part in a SELF FUNDED system where members contribute to a pool of money that is used to pay our health care costs/claims, and a commercial insurance company is not used to “insure” the participants.  As a matter of convenience, we bid claims processing and management of our reserves to an outside vendor, but determine our rate of cost/increase based on utilization and no “profit” is derived to the overall plan.  For the most part, insurance companies simply pay our bills and act as record keepers.  For that service, they add as much as 30% overhead onto the cost of our healthcare.  Outrageous, especially for those who can not afford insurance and often find that the discounts bargained with hospitals….lands at their feet to pay.

Our health CARE system-the actual provision of care, is wonderful.   Our bill paying and financing is seriously broken.  We as a nation can do better and we as a state can lead the way.

Maintaining local control of our schools

Quick Snip:   The state should set standards for the education of our children, but the implementation and application of those expectations should be facilitated with as much local control as practicable.

The expanded discussion:  To me, this is a simple and logical area where agreement should be easy to reach.  As a former school board member, elected for two terms, I know that the state Department of Education does a great job at directing the overall path our schools should follow.   However, when it comes to implementing that plan and subsequent directives, the actual nuts and bolts of teaching within those guidelines should be the local school, where students needs and challenges are best known.

Working constructively to enact positive progressive legislation

Quick Snip:  We must not be afraid to step outside the box when looking for innovative legislative avenues to solve our problems.  That may include starting over, rather than trying to salvage something that is not working.

The expanded discussion:  It is hard to expand upon this point without seeming to go negative concerning our current situation.   I can only say that as a MEMBER of the party in power, I would sit at the table making decisions and participating in discussions on the issues impacting Vermonters and N N E residents.   Those not in the party sit in the bleachers and watch the action happen, or as in the last session, try to take their ball and go home, just saying NO and avoiding issues.  I would intend to do good things at reasonable cost, saving money when possible but making sure our needs and traditions are funded adequately in order to serve Vermonters.   IN the game, not throwing peanuts from the bleachers.

Our lakes and waters are valuable resources

Quick Snip:  We must adequately fund efforts to gain control of incidental and chronic pollution sources attacking our lakes and waters.

The expanded discussion:  The plan authored by Treasurer Pearce provides a foundation but we should do more.  Another issue is the toxic addiction we have to single use plastic items such as retail store bags and single use water bottles.  Alternatives are available.  Let’s get them in use every day!!  And for those of us who STILL want the convenience of plastic, a small contribution to lake cleanup would be greatly appreciated and should be levied as a user fee when a single use product choice is made.  This approach worked in terms of returnable soda and other bottles, why not for other items that pollute our water and grounds?

Of guns and such….

Quick Snip:  Far too many lives are being lost to gun violence that has permeated our society-and in Vermont, although sheltered so far, we are not immune from senseless acts.

The expanded discussion:   I support the recently passed restrictions.  This seems odd to hear from a gun owner, but unlike the discussion in many other states, I thing we have no reason to fear someone showing up in the middle of the night demanding surrender or confiscation from law abiding citizens.  I do fear for the grief of the parent who has lost a child, the adult that is in the wrong place at the wrong time, the child who unknowingly takes the life of a peer due to lack of knowledge or anger.  My firearms are mostly ones passed down from my father, an avid hunter and marksman, and uncle who inherited from his own father several hunting arms.   Hunting and marksmanship are Vermont traditions longstanding.   Access to military grade ammunition and high rate of fire weapons are not a part of that tradition.