All of the most difficult policy issues facing Vermont are best solved through open and collaborative discussions.
In the 2012 Budget we will have to reduce spending again by at least $112 million dollars. There aren’t any easy places to “find savings” and programs will be cut. We must continue to closely examine all spending and re-establish the priorities for government. As the Chair of the Government Accountability Committee I will continue to be a strong advocate for results based budgeting, using long term planning and strategic investment. Vermonters deserve responsible and accountable government.
I’m proud of my record as an environmentalist, and I believe protecting the beauty of Vermont is essential. However, we must work harder to maintain clean air and water, which are at constant risk. The best protection for Vermont is comprehensive land use planning and a clear, effective, and predictable process of regulation.
In 2009 the Legislature created a Blue Ribbon Tax Commission to review Vermont’s tax structure and report back with recommendations for change. After two years of work that report is due this January. Vermont must have a lower overall tax burden and a tax system that is progressive and encourages investment and a prosperous business environment.
Vermont is facing many difficult choices in our public school system. The focus must be on high quality teaching and diverse opportunities for all students. We must understand what we need to maintain a local voice in schools within a system that seeks to maximize best practices and efficiencies. Rapidly escalating property taxes must be stabilized including a long term plan for reform.
We must develop a comprehensive long term State Energy Plan so that all Vermonters understand their role in our Energy future. We must continue to invest in renewables and energy conservation. The 25 year agreement with Hydro-Quebec is an important resource for Vermont.