Meet your candidate: John Spencer, Addison-3
HEALTH CARE: The rising cost of health care is putting businesses and individuals in financial difficulty. We all have a share in this dramatic rise in cost through increased use of emergency room visits, poor health choices and more. In order for everyone to have the same standard of health care no matter where you live or financial ability, government has to be involved. A single payer system of health care can be the solution, but in Vermont can our state government alone administer the system, will it be economically advisable and will it accomplish what was set out for it in Act 48? These are serious questions and they need to be fully answered before moving forward.
SCHOOL FUNDING: With the ever increasing cost per pupil spending in Vermont, currently fifth in the nation, pressure to defeat more school budgets could start eroding the quality of education in Vermont. We must cut the cost per student, but quality education is the key for our state and local communities to prosper and grow. We must gather together all interest groups, teachers, administrators, school boards and communities to reshape the education system in Vermont. School consolidation and alternative funding mechanisms are a good beginning, but should be only part of the way we redesign. Much more needs to be done within our educational structure for Vermont to move successfully into the future.
TRANSPARENCY: With the passage of the new open meeting law many towns and organizations had to shut down their websites because they could not meet the new regulations. Changes need to be made to the law to encourage websites and other electronic communication for the public and press to learn what is happening in government in a timely manner. Not all small towns and organizations can meet the new requirements. We need to work to ensure that every citizen in Vermont has access to high speed internet. Open and free access to information is the key to good government.
OPIATE ADDICTION: Vermont owned up to an epidemic of opiate use, which was a good start in finding a solution. Alcohol use, gambling and other substance abuse are also symptoms of deeper social problems. Studies show that every dollar spent on treatment and outreach saves four dollars of expense in our communities. Prevention is a strong key, and money for prevention should receive budget priority. Substance abuse affects our communities in numerous negative ways including increased crime. Unfortunately there are elements in the state that are profiting from these dependencies. We need to support our law enforcement and judicial systems to make Vermont an undesirable place to be if you’re dealing in illegal drugs.
HIGHER EDUCATION: The cost of higher education has gone from difficult to almost impossible. Vermont students can go to an out-of-state school for less than to UVM. Student loan debt is too high making graduates leave the state for higher paying jobs to pay the loans. Solutions for the cost of higher education should include trade schools and two year degrees to provide employers the workers that they need plus a suitable public relations effort to make trade school education desirable. Some ideas to alleviate cost: a tuition freeze guaranteeing students four years at a fixed fee; earning college credits in high school; strengthening our community colleges; and tax credits or loan advantages if the graduate stays employed in Vermont.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: All economic development plans should be judged on their intended success and how they will help Vermont grow in the near future. Government needs to be in the economic development business. You add fertilizer to grow bigger and healthier crops, the same applies to economic development. The focus should be on encouraging good paying, environmentally clean job growth. We should create economic development areas with tax incentives to encourage companies to relocate or expand. For example, the state-owned land near Job Corps could be used as an incubator area for new businesses. Vermont needs to demonstrate that there are many advantages to establish here. We need to regulate business development, but there is a need to make sure that the permitting process is reasonable and timely. State agencies should take local town plans and citizen needs into consideration when acquiring land and granting permits.
CANDIDATE’S CHOICE: Party Lines: I am running as a Democrat, but want to actively reach out to all sides as I am a Vermonter foremost. The present national trend toward winners and losers is infectious and goes against having good legislation and government. All sides have good points and need to be heard and taken into consideration. Too often decisions are made to make individuals look good to a segment of the public. There are a lot of great ideas in that vast area between the left and right. Too often the moderate is thought to be weak; not true, it is where the majority of Vermonters stand.
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