1. Health care
Many Vermonters still can't afford health insurance, or they are paying way too much. A health insurance policy for a family of four in Vermont is $1195 per month. A similar policy in New Hampshire is only $295 per month. We need to allow Vermonters to buy insurance from other states.
We need to protect Vermont's greatest natural resource. A polluted lake reduces tourism, lowers property values, and is less enjoyable for everyone. We must be stricter in the enforcement of pollution running into the lakes and rivers. The Carry Bay and Missisquoi Bay causeways must be removed to restore the lake's natural flushing. We need leadership to do more to protect our great lake.
We need to give consumers the choice as to what type of energy they want to purchase. Many environmentally-conscious Vermonters will choose renewable energy, even if it costs slightly more.
We need to streamline the permitting process for wind farms in Vermont. It shouldn't take over three years and a million dollars just to have a permit turned down, as was the case with the East Haven Wind Project. In NY and many other states, the process is known in terms of cost and time — you can have your permit in 9 months in NY.
Nuclear is a non-polluting energy source that currently generates one third of Vermont's energy. Newer generation plants are safer and able to recycle most of their waste products.
Biomass, methane from farm waste, and small-scale hydro systems can all be viable alternative energy sources. The state needs to look for ways to streamline the process to make it as easy as possible for people who want to use greener types of energy.
4. Property taxes
Any system that forces people to sell their homes to pay their property taxes is a bad system.
First, we need to cap the property taxes to the rate of inflation so people living on fixed incomes or planning for retirement can afford to stay in their homes. The next thing we must do is control the spending, because it doesn't matter where the taxes are moved around to—high taxes are bad for our economy.
Our student-to-teacher ration is too low, and our staff-to-teacher ratio is too high; we must adjust these ratios considering the current drop in student enrollments across the state. We also need to let teachers teach; I hear from teachers all across Vermont that they have to spend much of their time on bureaucracy and not teaching.
5. Farming & agriculture
In talking to dairy farmers, I found many opposed to the federal government's involvement because farmers in the Midwest are being subsidized to send their milk east to New England, which lowers the price that Vermont farmers get for their milk. Vermont should encourage an industry-wide return to market pricing.
Moving away from the property tax to fund schools will benefit our farmers by easing their property tax burdens, therefore their total costs will go down.
We also need to allow farmers to grow highly profitable alternative crops like hemp. Organic hemp is an expanding industry, but all of our hemp fiber, oil, and seeds are currently imported into the U.S. from Canada, China and other countries where cultivation is not prohibited. At a time when milk prices are dropping, we need to allow farmers to diversify their crops.
The state should not disrupt the growing "buy local" movement with undue burdens on small producers, such as mandatory premise registration. From cheese to vegetables, to bread, meat, and beverages, Vermonters should be able to enjoy safe, healthy food from a wide variety of local sources.
6. Government spending
The state budget has doubled in the last eight years from $2.25 billion to $4.5 billion. Have we gotten double the services? Vermont's state budget is not larger than New Hampshire, and New Hampshire has more than twice Vermont's population. Most state programs can be run more efficiently.Send Page To a Friend