Add-1 Candidate Jill Charbonneau Q & A
HEALTH CARE: Act 48 defines the role of government as supporting a universal and unified healthcare system. It is an unfunded mandate. Universal access to primary care is the next logical step for publicly financed healthcare. It improves population health and system costs by early detection. The Vermont Healthcare Connect is under construction at best. The Vermont legislature has commissioned a study to report on the viability of this program December 15th. It would be prudent to wait for this study before acting.
SCHOOLS: I support Sue Minter’s plan to make Community College of Vermont and Vermont Technical Center tuition free for the first two years of secondary education. This program picks up the tab after scholarships and grants have been applied to the balance. The proposed funding comes from a bank franchise fee, and increasing corporate taxes paid by banks in line with our neighboring states. Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour will help teenagers afford secondary education.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Public assets Institute indicates 87 percent of job growth comes from start ups and expansion of in state business, 27 percent require post secondary training and 67 percent require short or moderate term job training, we can take advantage of federal funding for job training.
Focusing economic investment on Vermont infrastructure leaves us something besides a Keurig coffee maker at the end of the day. The Vermont quality of life is a key ingredient to a thriving small business community. We have great schools, invest in roadways but we fall short in public transportation. Returning commuter rail to the Champlain Valley would make Chittenden County more accessible for the work force. Another area of investment is municipal water and sewer. The PFOA crisis in Bennington highlights the need to have safe water supplies and serious clean up of Lake Champlain requires this investment, which creates good paying jobs and has federal assistance available.
OPIATE ADDICTION: Our current situation has an expensive price tag and no benefit to recovery, incarceration. Pharmaceutical companies saturate the market with addictive treatments. Limiting prescriptions is a practical response but we need to address the underlying problem of pain management. Alternative treatments are not mainstreamed. In Massachusetts nursing homes train offer Reiki, they aren’t able to bill insurance companies the treatment is popular with residents. Laws prohibit the development and use of cannabis derivatives. In Vermont where medical marijuana has limited treatment, it isn’t covered by health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, a barrier to lower income patients. We built a mental hospital with fewer beds, coupled with a scarcity of treatment facilities in the non-corrections sector and now the burgeoning costs are absorbed by public safety. The cost of addiction needs to be shifted away from public safety and into mental health treatment for better outcomes.
RENEWABLE ENERGY: It is apparent citizens of Vermont feel their voices are unheard or unheeded by the Vermont Public Service Board process. It is the function of the service board to protect the interest of the public. When the Vermont Legislature places a ban on fracking in Vermont and the Vermont Public Service Board permits a pipeline to carry fracked gas the system is conflicted. Climate change is now. We need to be swift in our response but we ought to bring our ecological priorities to the table when considering renewable energy projects with massive ecological impact.
AGRICULTURE: Our dependence on pesticide use is destructive to the environment. However with a fourfold return on every dollar spent on pesticide it is a practice that is not going away without a concentrated effort to promote alternative methods. It is as serious a problem as fossil fuel consumption and with the fate of GMO labeling still fresh simply banning a practice is unlikely to withstand the action of the federal government. But like the public’s interest in organic food, even without GMO labeling the demand for organic food is flourishing, education is a primary tool for changing our culture and therefore demand. As mentioned earlier the need for municipal water systems is an equally important component to water quality, as preventing agricultural run off.
CANDIDATE’S CHOICE: Our dependence on Corporate America to deliver the American way of life is suffocating us. Our health care delivery system is defined by insurance companies that benefit when treatment is not covered. Our health care system and secondary education system are eaten alive by administration costs. The money spent wooing big business leaves us with empty pockets when it comes to supporting small businesses, the backbone of the Vermont economy. Pharmaceuticals have been successful in promoting the use of opioid therapy and now we have a raging addiction problem. The fossil fuel industry and agricultural biotechnology roam the halls of Congress flush with all the advantages money can buy. We are going to take this country back at the polling place on Election Day. Each person has one vote and in this instance the 99 percent wields the power but only if we use it. Don’t give Corporate America the advantage by thinking your vote doesn’t count, because it really doesn’t count if you don’t use it.
MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION: Yes