October 30, 2014
I am very grateful for the opportunity to have independently and effectively served the community of Stowe for the past eight years, and I look forward to continuing that tradition in the coming biennium, as my quest for reelection arrives next week.
As your State Representative, I have worked diligently in Montpelier to bring attention to the issues of importance to all of us. From economic development and education policy, to tax, health care, and transportation policy, I have worked with my colleagues to make a positive impact on a host of legislative initiatives throughout the years, and I plan to continue that work for you over the next two years.
Education and Education Funding Reform
For 8 years, I have vigorously advocated for education reform and property tax relief. Time after time, I have tried to educate my colleagues on the unfairness and unsustainability of the current system, and have pleaded for comprehensive reform. Yet, time and again, my pleas have been dismissed by Governor Shumlin and legislative leaders.
Now, though, Vermonters may have caught the attention of longtime supporters of the education status quo, as they promise – during campaign season, of course – to reform the system and provide property tax relief. These pleas for reform now also include a host of municipalities throughout Vermont. Town after town has now realized what we in Stowe have known for a long time – that the current system suffocates our municipalities, as it leaves us so little taxing capacity that towns are unable to invest responsibly in infrastructure, or provide the services our communities want and deserve.
While the Town of Stowe has not yet joined this movement to force legislative action, I am hopeful that they do. I believe strongly that the Town of Stowe needs to be a vocal advocate for reform.
Of course, the skeptic in my reminds me that these promises from elected officials have been made over and over again at election time. But, I am holding out hope that they are sincere, as I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work with them.
I have also spent much of my time, over the last four years especially, advocating for greater attention to, and investment in, our state’s economic growth.
And, while I’m proud of my achievements over that time, I have realized that, too often, the health of our state’s economy is on the back burner when it comes to legislative priorities. This must change. We must make economic growth a legislative priority come January 2015.
For this reason, my Democratic colleague from Middlebury, Rep. Paul Ralston, and I founded Vision to Action Vermont (V2AVT), an organization whose mission it is to support and elect candidates for political office – regardless of party affiliation – who share our desire to put the health of our state’s economy at the forefront of the legislative agenda. And, I am proud to report that we have been doing just that for the past several months – supporting, endorsing, and assisting Republicans, Democrats, and Independents throughout Vermont who share this vision.
Vermont has always had a deep capacity for innovation and excellence. And, as long as we pay attention to the influences and effects on our economy that are within our control, we can shape a Vermont that will continue to be a great place to live and work.
In fact, economic prosperity can ameliorate many of the difficult challenges facing Vermont. After all, before any funds can be spent on any state programs, economic activity must generate revenue for the state coffers. And, because we believe that economic issues are some areas where partisanship can be diffused, V2AVT is encouraging civil debate, substantive discussion, and meaningful progress.
V2AVT was founded to ensure that the health of our state’s economy rises to the forefront of the legislative agenda in Montpelier. Ultimately, we want to ensure that legislation and initiatives to invest in and grow our economy are promoted and seriously considered, and that all legislation is thoughtfully considered in terms of the impact it will have on our state’s small businesses, and our economy overall. And we believe the candidates we are supporting can help bring that vision to fruition.
Health Care Reform
Finally, I pledge to continue my fight for health care reform that works for Vermonters. Like many, I continue to be concerned about the lack of accountability and transparency, and the clear incompetence, around our state’s current health care reform effort. The rollout of Vermont Health Connect was disastrous, and, even now, as the open enrollment period for 2015 fast approaches, the website remains down.
In addition to this failure, the Governor and legislature continue to insist that we march down an undefined path for a $2.2 billion taxpayer funded health care system. The only thing we know for sure is that political promises continue of lower costs, better care, and guaranteed health care for all – with absolutely no honest plan for getting us there.
Instead, we should be working to ensure the Vermont Health Connect works for Vermonters. Specifically, we should work toward opening up the Exchange to more people in order to enlarge the risk pool. This would in turn, provide more health insurance options for Vermonters at lower costs.
Once again, it has been an honor to serve the people of Stowe in the House, and I ask for your support to continue.
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