For the latest issue advancement
in the state house read the
Vermont is a small state with few wealth-generating industries and a modest tax base.
To wring maximum value out of our precious dollars for our communities, the legislature needs to prioritize the commitments that create the greatest benefit for the most of us, and invest in creating opportunity for the future.
Just handing out individual subsidies for essential needs, from child care to housing–without making sure we actually have enough houses or child care slots– raises costs without increasing access.
We need to put focused and strategic muscle behind expanding the housing supply and child care slots.
Developing our high-wage, high-growth green and clean economic sectors will bring new wealth to our communities.
There is no good future for our communities, our environment, or our wallets that does not involve smart, assertive and strategic climate policy.
All of us need to be protected as our climate changes, from the farmer whose fruit trees are harmed by new weather patterns to the taxpayers who pay for the roads that wash out with ever greater frequency.
Without good climate policy, we will have higher costs for everyone and worse health for many.
With the right policy, we can protect those who stand to lose the most from climate change, and who can’t currently afford to pay for our green energy transition.
Instead of sending our dollars out of state and out of the country to buy energy, we’ll pay good wages to people who live and pay taxes in our own communities, as they build our green energy future.
Good climate policy must lift up everyone, not just those who already have the money to “buy green.”
Too much social policy in Vermont is designed to help people after they are down, rather than providing the opportunities that keep people on their feet and their families safe and healthy in the first place.
Terrible things can happen to anyone.
We are better as communities when we make sure everyone has a fair chance to live well, earn enough to care for their family, meet their needs with dignity, and participate as equal partners in our communities.
Access to essential services should not depend on your ability to pay, the size of your insurance deductible, or whether there are already enough spots in the local child care.
Every child has a constitutional right to an equitable education, and our schools are often the heart of our communities.
We show our hope for the future, our care for our children and our faith in our community, when we support inclusive, strong schools.
When we work together, we help them grow up healthy, free of fear and ready to build the future we need.
When every child has a fair chance to succeed, we are all better off.
Over the next few years, the state will be implementing ambitious new policies related to special education and education funding reform.
How these new policies will affect each of our towns is still to be determined.
The mix of schools in our towns is completely unique in the state: two independent schools that follow public school rules, an interstate district and several public elementary schools.
It will help our towns to have someone represent them who understands this complexity, and who understands how new policies play out in this complexity.
Family Friendly Policy
It can cost $20-25,000 per year for childcare for our youngest children– if you can find a slot.
Paid leave and managing our broken child care market to address low wages and ensure enough spaces, and spaces where they are needed, would go a long way to help out our families, address affordability and get people back to work.
Gun violence not only deprives people of their lives, it deprives them of their liberty to live free of fear and pursue happiness.
I have been a long proponent of common sense gun reform, including closing loopholes in universal background checks, red flag laws and tighter regulations on access to firearms by people under 21.
Vermont has one of the highest death by suicide rates in the nation. Strong waiting periods reduce attacks on others, and they also reduce deaths by suicide.
The recent Supreme Court decision striking down New York's 101-year-old law restricting the carrying of guns in public spaces speaks to how difficult it is becoming for democratically-elected officials to enact laws that address the serious epidemic of gun violence in the United States.
But there are paths forward, and Vermont still has work to do. For example, VT banned the sale of high capacity magazines here at home, but allows them to be sold from VT to other states, where they have been linked to mass killings.
If these magazines are not safe enough for us and our own children, they are not safe for people in other states.
Fairness and Equity
Giving everyone a fair chance.
We are better together.
But as long as race, socio-economic status, disability, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or other characteristics are used to deny people access to opportunity or exclude them from safety and wellbeing, we fail at the promise of our state motto: “Freedom and Unity.”
Leading for a sustainable tomorrow means leading with equity in mind.
Even accounting for inflation, home prices have doubled since the 70s.
The opportunities many young families experience are a shell of what a previous generation had. Due to our housing shortage, rents are rising much faster than wages and many other costs, leaving too many families unable to meet expenses, save for the future or meet other basic needs.
The resulting stress affects their health and their childrens’ sense of hope and stability. The acute shortage also incentivizes our precious workforce to leave Vermont in search of better opportunities, or, as many employers have told me, to decline essential jobs in the Upper Valley because of the challenge and cost of finding a place to call home.
We’ve made a start, but have far to go to make sure our communities can welcome families.
Thank you to all who have reached out to share your ideas on how to tackle our housing shortage.
Being Safe and Healthy
Too many Vermonters are compelled to work fewer hours to avoid losing access to Medicaid, stretch their medications or avoid primary care due to high deductibles.
The pandemic highlighted inequities in access to good care, even in our own communities.
Every Vermonter deserves to know that when they need quality health care, they can get it, regardless of who they are or how much they can pay. Just as importantly, they should not have to give up work to qualify for lifesaving insurance.