Add-1 Candidate Robin Scheu Q & A

HEALTH CARE: Healthcare is a complex system, and it’s a pretty broken system today. The cost of healthcare is enormous and many people are not only worried about access, but also being able to pay their bills. I believe that our government should do all it can to reduce the cost of healthcare while maintaining both quality and access.
Vermont Health Connect has taught us that it’s extremely difficult and expensive to change a system as complicated as healthcare.
Any changes we choose to make should not make people’s lives worse or make it more difficult or expensive to access their healthcare.
SCHOOLS: Vermont offers several programs that can help prepare our youth. Our Career and Technical Centers play a key role in preparing many students; however, the funding associated with using these schools needs to be fixed so that more students can take advantage of offerings. The Vermont Dual Enrollment Program allows high school students to take two college courses for free at 19 colleges. Expanding this program would benefit more of our youth. Students can also start their college career by getting an associate’s degree at Community College of Vermont (CCV) and then transferring to a 4-year college, thus reducing debt.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Job creation comes from local businesses and start-ups. We need to create the conditions and offer the right resources to help entrepreneurs start a business or grow their business. Our Career and Technical schools offer apprenticeships and other training. Workforce training also occurs through grant-funded programs at CCV, VTC, etc. For virtually no cost or with grants, we can develop programs for students of all ages to learn what the job and business opportunities are in Addison County and Vermont. Collaboration with other organizations throughout the county and state, as I have done by creating the Addison County Development Cabinet and an HR roundtable, often leads to additional training and new ways of helping employers and employees for little cost. I also support the Vermont Training Program, which assists with worker training in skills that are transferable and often leads to higher wages.
OPIATE ADDICTION: We need to change our approach and our attitude to addiction. First, we must stop treating addicts as criminals: a prison sentence doesn’t solve the problem and the weekly cost of prison is more than 9 times higher than treatment. Therefore, we should focus on treatment and give people the help they need. We also need to treat the whole family: if a person completes rehab and goes back to the same living situation, they are far more likely to relapse.
RENEWABLE ENERGY: Act 174, the renewable energy-siting bill, was passed in the 2016 legislative session. Among other things, it seeks to improve the integration of planning for energy and land use, including creating an option under which municipalities and regional planning commissions may engage in enhanced energy planning that results in greater weight to their plans in the energy siting process. Since the bill has just passed and a working group is reviewing current processes for citizen participation, I believe it’s premature to make additional changes until we see how things play out.
AGRICULTURE: Act 64, the Clean Water Act, establishes certain requirements of Vermont farms. Among other things, “accepted agricultural practices” will become “required agricultural practices” or RAPs. We need to support our farmers through this transition by ensuring that technical assistance is the highest priority and that funding and financial incentives are also considered. A report from the State Treasurer is due in December and there are likely to be additional suggestions there. Also, I would continue to support the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative as a way to encourage our farmers.
CANDIDATE’S CHOICE: Two subjects that are also of high priority for me are affordable housing and quality, affordable childcare. These two issues stymie economic opportunity, and both make it very difficult for working families to get ahead. I helped with a housing bill that almost made it through the 2016 legislative session and will act on it again if elected. I’m currently on a legislative study committee for housing and there may be further recommendations. A Blue Ribbon Commission will produce a report due November 28, which will offer strategies to strengthen and support childcare in Vermont.

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