STATE BUDGET: I do not see how we can cut any programs, especially social service programs that are especially needed now. The best approach would be to reduce bureaucratic inflation, that means personnel, especially at the top level where some positions seem more to serve political rather then the public interest. I would favor modest increases in income taxes for those who can afford to pay them. To say more would be to require a crystal ball.
EDUCATION FUNDING: Neither Act 60 nor Act 68 are broken. Together they have succeeded in moving us towards equality and equity of educational funding across the state. This doesn't mean that they can't be improved, clarified, and simplified. This is a constant task. But the goal needs to be kept clearly in view. Finding an alternate source of funding remains a constant challenge. If there were an efficient way to base education funding on income taxes, at least in part, I would consider it.
ENERGY: Yes, I would close Vermont Yankee. Entergy, the owner of Vermont Yankee (VY), has proven to be an unreliable partner. The plant itself is antiquated and decaying. Even if Vermont Yankee were kept open, it would no longer offer a supply of cheap or modestly priced energy. There are many other sources of energy in New England. CVPS, GMP have made a good deal with Hydro Quebec. The promotion of clean, renewable energy production in Vermont and New England should be given the highest priority.
AGRICULTURE: Recently I heard there are many people from all over New England who are not buying eggs that come from out west but are looking for sources of eggs in Vermont and New England. Our agriculture business would do well to capitalize on the well-founded belief that we are a reliable source not only for eggs but many other agricultural products. The Agency of Agriculture in cooperation with other state agencies needs to become more actively engaged in marketing Vermont agricultural products throughout the region and beyond. This is a good time to work on this plan.
HEALTH CARE: Should the state pursue additional health care reforms beyond Catamount Health and the Federal health care law? Yes. Vermont has an opportunity to be a leader in health care. We have the opportunity to create a system that offers affordable health care to everyone. The present health insurance program must be decoupled from business and municipalities so that they may be relieved of what has become and expensive financial burden. We need to improvise, have preventive health care that would reduce the need for costly health care later on. We need to cut administrative costs. A well conceived single payer program can accomplish these things. There is reason to believe that with the help of our congregational delegation, these things can be accomplished.
JOBS: Act 250 has the scenic and agricultural criteria in planning and zoning. Because of Act 250, I believe that we did not get into as much financial trouble in this downturn as other states. Contractors had to pass our planning an zoning laws and not go out and build homes that no one is now able to afford. Act 250 has helped our economy during several past recessions. Our local banks were also careful in making loans. Our state is unspoiled, frugal, and hardworking. Working from this, and with improved infrastructure — railroads and broadband — I think we are poised to develop small, locally controlled industries. We need also to make sure that our educational system is providing its students with skill and training to perform in the workforce.