Meet your candidate: Warren Van Wyck, Addison-3
HEALTH CARE: Vermont has often ranked as one of the healthiest states. This is more to the credit of the individuals and health care providers in Vermont than the state government. The state has demonstrated its inability to run a website for Vermont Health Connect since its beginning and for months afterward. The federal government ordered it shut down due to security issues. The state government should regulate competition between multiple private insurance companies while providing premium assistance for needy low-income residents. This would improve outcomes and contain costs without the adverse effects of single-payer.
SCHOOL FUNDING: The past two years the spending adjusted average residential education property tax rate has increased by 13.6 percent while school population has decreased. The tax structure is too progressive, so that one homeowner might see a property tax increase of $100 and another an increase of $1,000. This is often described as “not enough skin in the game.” Since others will pay for the bulk of increases, budget increases are often passed with low percentage turnouts. Also, there should be a greater correlation between local spending and local taxation. The Education Department should publish in plain English how homestead education property taxes are calculated so that homeowners are able to comprehend why their taxes have increased.
TRANSPARENCY: State office holders should disclose what jobs and major assets are related to state business, contracts and policies. Legislators who are employed or retained by for-profit corporations should not be able to vote on bills that favor such corporations. If there were greater balance between Democrats and Republicans (now over 2 to 1), there would be more open debate in committees to create bills, rather than bills being formulated behind closed doors and handed to committees to be rubber-stamped by the super-majority. Extremely complicated and opaque statutes reduce the transparency of the government and frustrate many citizens.
OPIATE ADDICTION: The causes of opiate addiction are many and complex. Its prevention and treatment programs are vital when addressing the issue. School health education must stress the serious health and social consequences of drug abuse. High school teachers should observe students displaying signs of abuse in order to direct such students to counseling. As a further deterrent, businesses should be able to institute random drug testing (like CDL drivers) as other states have this law. This also would reduce workplace accidents and help ensure the safety of co-workers in various occupations with heavy equipment and power tools.
HIGHER EDUCATION: The University and State Colleges of Vermont provide generous assistance to most financially needy families, though many students will graduate with a certain amount of debt due to college loans. Given lower interest rates the past years, student debt should be eligible for refinancing. The bigger question is the availability of entry level jobs for college graduates. Too many good paying manufacturing and technology jobs have gone either overseas or to other states. These college graduates often then leave the state for a job — this is not an export that Vermont should expand. Colleges should increase linkages (e.g., internships) to businesses so that a student’s field of study is directly related to the needs of businesses in the state.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Fundamentally, the role of the government in the area of economic development is to create conditions for success and opportunity, and to codify fairness and transparency in our fiscal policies. The immediate need is for property tax relief since businesses can relocate to states with much lower property tax burdens (see WarrenVanWyck.com), and businesses are not relocating to Vermont because of this. We need to stop increasing property taxes for businesses and families across the state and reduce costly regulations that are putting stress on small business owners. An energy policy that ensures competitive electricity prices must be instituted. Despite a recent minor reduction in rates, the state is on the path to very expensive electricity costs due to subsidies and market distortions. Economic vitality plays a key role in most issues facing the state, and, as such, needs to be our priority.
CANDIDATE’S CHOICE: The legalization of marijuana would increase an already serious drug problem in this state. For many marijuana is a gateway drug to harder drugs. Repeatedly law enforcement officers have described young people that have died due to overdoses and they started drugs by smoking marijuana. Children of marijuana users are more likely to have drug problems. “Adolescents whose parents have SUDs (Substance Use Disorders) are more likely to develop SUDs themselves. Some adolescents mimic behaviors they see in their families, including ineffective coping behaviors such as using drugs and alcohol.” — U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Vermont needs to decrease its drug dependence.
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