Vermont’s economic woes are growing. Our current public policy is flawed, resulting in employers leaving the state in search of a more business friendly climate. This, paired with high individual and corporate taxes, prohibitive energy costs, and lack of accountability and transparency in our government, has created an environment that stifles Vermont residents’ quest to move up the economic ladder. The time for change is now. But what can be done? A lot. So, where do we start?
- We need a government that is always looking and wanting to improve. The status quo is no longer good enough.
- A strategic plan, paired with goals and a budget that outlines how to achieve those goals.
- The inclusion of affordability as a theme in how our state governs.
- And, a complete review of current programs, their effectiveness, limitations, and restrictions. It is time to trim the fat and make sure our state’s resources are going towards helping all Vermonters to succeed and prosper here.
Working together with companies that call Vermont home is vital to maintaining our current workforce and developing new jobs. The legislature needs to be mindful of the mission, goals, and obstacles facing Vermont businesses. Strong ties with local companies will create an economic culture and environment that is appealing.
Building and maintaining these relationships will make Vermont a place where companies want to put down roots, be successful, and grow. And, with growth, comes the opportunity for new jobs. I want to work with the businesses in South Burlington to ensure that they have all the tools they need to be successful here and in return our residents will be presented with new career paths and opportunities.
The legislature continues to spend money they don’t have, which results in unnecessary tax burdens on residents when the time comes to balance the budget. We need to stop the tax and spend approach. It is outdated and ineffective. It is time to be proactive, not reactive, and have a more strategic and efficient budget process.
We need to halt the current process, which relies on depleting our reserves and using one-time funds to cover shortfalls. We need to evaluate our current programs and eliminate any unnecessary overlap. To be successful, we need to encourage collaboration of state agencies and aim for a unified culture that wants to to ensure that all Vermonters needs are being met.
I believe in identifying sensible and affordable energy policies and programs for our state. We have some of the highest energy costs in the nation, which discourages economic growth and burdens Vermont residents. Renewable energy is essential in our quest for sustainability, but that quest should not result in costly mandates for families who simply can’t afford them. Solutions need to be identified and it is my goal to do so, without applying additional regulations and fees to Vermont citizens.
Our state is in the midst of an opiate epidemic and addiction crisis. Though previously addressed by Governor Shumlin, it is clear that the proper follow-up has not been executed. If elected, I would fight for and support:
- Funding for intervention programs. We need to support the agencies that deliver critical mental health and substance abuse intervention programs.
- Improve drug education for students, in addition to early interventions for at risk youth. Special educators are presented with increasing numbers of children who suffer from trauma and emotional episodes that are the direct result of having their home lives negatively affected by addiction. These children in particular, need the proper support, and in order for that support to be available, funding is needed for the state agencies that specialize in working with these kids and their families.
- A public awareness campaign that can address the risks and dangers of opiates. Education is needed, that is blatantly clear, and we should be working on creating a campaign that effectively spreads the message that opiates are here in Vermont, killing our residents, and negatively affecting our community as a whole.