The Economy: Vermont has the smallest economy in the US, $30 Billion Annually. Vermont has a job growth of less than 1%. The cost of doing business in Vermont is 12% higher than the national average. Vermont’s economic outlook is the 6th worst in the nation. We are ranked #44 worst for economic climate and #48 worst for best states to do business in. Manufacturing is only 20% of our economy. 95% of businesses in Vermont are small businesses, which is good but 75% of those are sole proprietorships. (Forbes Magazine) We struggle to compete in the US market, how can we possibly compete in a world market? Vermont can’t continue relying on our tourism and service industry for sustainability. My plan is to introduce a new business startup taxing system. The first three years are arguably the hardest in creating a new business. I propose a three year business tax free start up period with a commitment to keep your business in Vermont for at least 10 years. This plan would cost the state nothing because the revenue was never there to loose. Let’s change our business taxation from the sliding scale 6-8.5% to a flat rate 7%. In addition, offer tax credits when buying local, machinery, supplies, etc. Provide vocational training programs through our state Colleges and Vocational training schools. Create accredited trade schools in our communities. Vermont needs an aggressive marketing (advertising) program to keep, as well as bring, young qualified workers to the state and to promote already existing businesses. Vermont has so much to offer as far as a quiet lifestyle, outdoor activities and beautiful scenery, why not utilize it?
The FY 2018 budget is 2.86% higher than 2017. Projected revenue is suspected to be at the same rate? (Vermont biz) The budget has been running at a growth of 3-5% higher than the incoming revenue for many years, spending needs to be trimmed. The 2018 FY Budget is a start, being close to the projected revenue growth. The cost of living in Vermont continues to be a hard burden, we need to do more. How do you make cuts without effecting necessary services? Useless studies that are unused are costing us hundreds of thousands of dollars, where simple common sense can be applied (ex. Marijuana legislation study, Carbon Tax study, etc.). The DOC is averaging $70,000 per inmate per year, where other states are averaging the mid $30’s. Why is it less expensive to house our inmates in another state? We, here in Vermont have a student/faculty ratio of 5:1, teacher student ratio of 9.5:1. Vermont has a fairly well ranked education system; does it have to cost us $23,000 per student per year? When legislators confront the teachers union (VTNEA) they are threatened to not make cuts, who do they think they are? Our educators are supposed to be our most intelligent citizens, why can’t they find a sensible solution to our ever raising education costs? Act 46 and the other acts connected with consolidation of schools are actually costing us more money on education but we continue on the same path? The State Department of Education plans to spend $31 million to encourage schools districts to merge through tax breaks, a form of bribery in my humble opinion. I believe we could make all of our state agencies run much more efficiently by trimming unnecessary administration, cutting cost without cutting services.
Vermont has the second highest rate of illicit drug use in the country, second only to the District of Columbia. We are rated #1 for related health issues and lack of rehab (wallet hub). Obviously, the drug issue is a huge problem here in Vermont. We will have to spend some money on the problem to make it go away. We need to offer more diligent early intervention programs in our schools and our communities, such as after school programs and mandatory, non-candy coated drug educational courses. We must provide law enforcement with the necessary tools to help combat the problem. The “slap on the wrist” policy for dealers has to end; we need higher bails, longer sentencing, higher fines and serious repeat offender punishment for drug dealers. We need to make Vermont unattractive to dealers. I would work to incorporate treatment centers into our correction facilities for abusers and addicts. Incarceration doesn’t deter users, treatment and rehabilitation does. The Marijuana Bill has passed but poorly. The need for the retail sales and taxation of marijuana to be included in this bill was necessary. Law enforcement needs the tools to determine the safe level of intoxication so our families can be safe on the roads.
I would work on a bill that would reduce or eliminate taxation of Social Security and Veteran’s benefits. Increased economic growth due to lowering business costs and less stringent development rules will fill the revenue gap by adding funds through business and income tax volume increases. ACT 250 adds crippling restrictions and costs for business and even residential development. I would push to make residential, single family homes exempt from ACT 250. I would also work to reduce the excessive requirements for businesses, bringing zoning back to the local, town government. River corridor restrictions included in Act 250 effects nearly every town in Vermont. Act 250 has the same standards for towns protected by flood control dams and those who are not. A push to make this rule flexible is necessary. I agree a less restrictive Act 250 should be a part of large development and residential subdivisions. Once a residential subdivision lot is created and approved, Act 250 should no longer apply. The Benefit Cliff is a serious roadblock for those trying to get out the “system”. The Benefit cliff is a dramatic cut in services provided when a participant reaches a certain income level. WE discourage people from getting away from assistance by saying if you make more money you will be worse off. I will work with others to find a solution and create a sliding income level for benefits. Those who do receive benefits will have an incentive to work out of the “system”. I will turn the benefit cliff into a smooth transitioning topography. Constitutional Compliance has seemed to have slipped of late with Vermont’s Legislators. We should never consider or pass a bill that violates our rights laid out in our Constitutions. A law should NEVER be passed as an act of passion or political gain. I am Pro Constitution, Pro`2A and Pro Article 16. Our right to bear arms insures all of our other Constitutional Rights. I will not vote in favor of any bill that violates The US or Vermont Constitutions.
I want to represent the People of Windsor County and Vermont. I ask for your support, thoughts, questions and ideas.