An economy that works for all Vermonters and all of Vermont
We are at a critical moment in our state’s history. Vermont's innovative entrepreneurs are succeeding in unexpected sectors, specialty food is reaching new markets, and renewable energy development is taking off. Yet, we also see disturbing trends in much of Vermont. Poverty is rising, young people and families are leaving, Vermonters are traveling farther for work and at the same time, businesses are challenged to find workers to fill openings. Bold leadership and attention to at-risk communities will ensure that vulnerable Vermonters are not left behind.
We must create an economy that works for all Vermonters in all parts of Vermont -- from Rutland to the Northeast Kingdom, from Bennington to Burlington, and from the Upper Valley to Franklin County.
The challenges we face won’t be solved by a single agency, policy, or organization. Building a new economy, while recognizing what is working, will take a fresh and comprehensive approach that involves all of state government in collaboration with the private, public, and non-profit sectors.
Leading With Issues:
In order to create a successful economy, Vermont needs to export value and import money. We can export value in the form of software, finished wood products, beer, precision products, value added food, net-zero manufactured homes, or higher education. Successful businesses can be thousand-person companies started in a garage, a group of artisans creating one-of-a-kind products, or an individual working for a Fortune 500 company from an office in a farmhouse on a hill. To succeed, however, we need to make sure we have the infrastructure necessary to compete in the new economy, remove barriers to transforming our downtowns into thriving centers of innovation, and provide capital and support to allow our innovators to succeed. Learn more.
Perhaps the most important challenge facing Vermonters is economic security and the damaging impact of poverty. More and more Vermonters are struggling to get by in our economy. Since 2000, Bennington County has seen a 50% increase in the number of people in poverty. Ten percent of children in North Hero schools are homeless. Even the Manchester school district has seen the number of children eligible for free and reduced lunch rise from 22% to 53% in only 9 years. And in Washington County, 35.8% of residents face food insecurity in any given year. If Vermont continues down this path, it will take many generations to recover.
These trends are an indication that our economy is not working for all Vermonters or all of Vermont. Building an economy that works for everyone should be our first priority in the fight to build a good life for all Vermonters.
I believe we must act immediately to implement policies that will assist the very poor and working poor, starting with five key areas:
1. End homelessness and greatly increase the availability of affordable housing;
2. Make Vermont’s earned income tax credit (EITC) the best in the nation;
3. Eliminate “poor taxes” on Vermonters least able to afford them;
4. Raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour; and
5. Deploy a statewide microenterprise program and invest in financial asset development.
Vermont is considered to have one of the best K-12 public school systems in the country, but our declining student population -- driven by an economy that is not working for all of Vermont -- is putting that system of community-based schools at risk. We also have specific challenges in giving our high school graduates the chance to earn a college degree. Between 40% and 50% children in Vermont do not arrive in kindergarten ready to learn, and only 1 in 3 low-income students will enroll at an institution of higher education. Improving the quality of education in Vermont and delivering it at a reasonable cost is necessary to move our state forward. Click here to read about Matt’s plan.
Health care is a human right for all, not a privilege for some.
We have seen some progress toward universal healthcare for all Vermonters over the last six years, but there is much more to do. Healthcare is a human right, and we cannot rest until every one of our citizens has coverage. To do any less fails our progressive principles as a state.
Vermont Health Connect has failed Vermonters’, resulting in a loss of trust that has set the state back on achieving universal health care. We must start by fixing the costly and poorly implemented website by building an expert team and holding them accountable. With my background in IT and project management, and eleven years of service as a lawmaker in Montpelier, I am the only candidate for governor with both the tech and legislative experience to make this happen. As Governor, I will move quickly to ensure both the right people and the right technology are in place and that core operating standards — and Vermonters’ expectations — are being met.
We can advance the transition to single payer care by first implementing universal primary care, in which every Vermonter will have a primary care doctor. Without primary care in place, people often have no choice but to seek care in emergency rooms. This is expensive and inefficient; our emergency rooms are not the place for routine and preventative medical care. Further, in the case of a real emergency, primary care providers are vital to help families navigate visits to specialists, making sure care is coordinated. Additionally, we must change the way hospitals and caregivers are paid. Rather than being paid for volume, resulting in overbooked waiting rooms and costly procedures, hospitals and providers should be accountable for the health of a set number of patients, and receive a pre-determined budget from which to provide care. Finally, we must reform our Medicaid system, which covers a third of all Vermonters. As Governor, I know we can do this. Click here to see Matt’s plan to make quality healthcare affordable.
Over the past few years, tragedies like the shooting of DCF worker Lara Sobel and the murder of Scott Hill in South Royalton have put the safety of our communities in the spotlight. While our state is are still among the safest in the country, the data show a clear trend in the wrong direction. The opiate addiction crisis has caused a spike in petty crime and contributed to an underground drugs-for-guns market. Domestic violence incidents are on the rise, as are DCF caseloads. It’s time we updated our laws and protocols to address community safety in Vermont. Click here to read more.
The biggest economic challenge we face in Vermont is the erosion of the middle class. More and more of our people are slipping into poverty, and those already afflicted are taking longer to emerge. Too many Vermonters are working two or three jobs just to get by. Too many are having to choose between groceries and medicine, because universal health care has still not been delivered. And too many of our kids think college is not an option, because student loans are too crushing. Click here to read more.
Climate change is the most significant threat to our planet and even in the short term will fundamentally harm our economy, from its impact on maple sugaring to the ski industry to the health of our lake and the quality of our drinking water. Just as we came together to reject fracking and embrace an aggressive goal of obtaining 90% of our energy from renewable sources by 2050, Vermont can lead the country in reducing carbon with innovative strategies and practical solutions that bring people together.
Collectively, we can solve this problem. For too long, our energy policy has favored corporations and the wealthy investors they serve. It’s time to put control of our future back in the hands of everyday Americans and create a policy that puts the health of our planet above all else.
Vermonters deserve clean water and green mountains. Healthy drinking water, safe beaches and sustainable fisheries are high priorities. We simply cannot allow Lake Champlain to die and we cannot lose our prime agricultural soils, some of the best in the world.
The work of entrepreneurs in our state has made us a leader in solar, but more needs to be done. The transition to clean energy is going to require a new kind of approach, one that engages the community in proactively to gain buy-in as we develop new projects.
We may be doing better than many states when it comes to fighting for women's equality - but that is no reason to not push harder than ever to enact the most modern, progressive, and equitable policies. Where there’s a will there’s a way - click to read my plan to create the most equitable state in the nation.
Vermont should strive to lead the country in being the most inclusive and welcoming state to people of all colors. While we can be proud of our commitment to providing safe haven for refugees and the modern, equitable law enforcement protocols our State Police have embraced, it is still difficult to be a person of color in Vermont. Click here to read more about how we can make Vermont the most inclusive and welcoming state in the union.
At a time when other states are passing vicious anti-queer laws, Vermont must stand up against bigotry -- and speak out for all of our people. Strong, happy, and productive communities depend on the health and safety of all members, and our schools and workplaces must be places of tolerance where everyone can thrive. Click here to learn more about what my administration will do to make Vermont more LGBTQA inclusive.
Seniors are the backbone of our communities --They are our grandparents and neighbors, volunteers in our communities and the holders of community stories. They are an incredible resource to Vermont. And our rural state provides a unique set of challenges as our citizens age--it can become tougher to travel, to connect with community, and to keep up with rising costs on fixed incomes. We owe it to our seniors to help them meet these challenges. We must also treat our seniors as the incredible asset they are, whose wealth of experience and talents can be a critical part of a stronger, sustainable Vermont community and economy. Click to read more about Matt’s full plan to help those aging in Vermont.
Until we seriously improve transparency in our state government, we will continue to encounter trust issues. When questions of trust, fairness, and ethical behavior come up, our state as a whole loses momentum. We can do much better on many fronts, like increasing accountability, making access to government information much simpler, strengthening rules and guidelines on conflicts of interest and ethical behavior for elected officials, and reforming certain statewide campaign finance laws. Learn more.
The heroin problem in Vermont is an epidemic and it needs to be treated like one. It is affecting our economy and our sense of community, putting incredible strain on our police and threatening to bankrupt our social service programs. It is destroying the lives of Vermonters and the soul of our state. Click to read about Matt’s strategies for combating the opiate epidemic in Vermont.
States across the country are legalizing marijuana, and there’s no doubt in my mind that marijuana will be legal in Vermont soon as well. I support legalization, but we must do it right. The right approach keeps all Vermonters safe, while also creating opportunities for our farmers and entrepreneurs. Click to read more about Matt’s thoughts on marijuana in Vermont.