Add-3 Candidate Warren Van Wyck Q & A
HEALTH CARE: The role of government must be considered at both the Federal and State levels. The Federal Affordable Care Act (aka ACA or Obamacare) has major issues. Even former President Bill Clinton in October declared that since for millions premiums have increased and coverage has been reduced, that “It’s [ACA] the craziest thing in the world.” The State monopoly, Vermont Health Connect exchange, has been a great disservice for thousands attempting to enroll and pay their bills. Vermonters deserve more choices based on an actual competitive, regulated market. Vermont must keep commitments to all Veteran and Medicare enrollees who have earned their coverage.
SCHOOLS: Colleges need to do a better job of controlling costs and the federal government must reduce costly mandates. College students must consider the perspective job market when choosing majors. Then paying off college debt is more manageable if well-paying jobs are available after graduation. Vermont must focus on attracting, growing and retaining businesses that provide those types of jobs. Vermont has many trades and building workers nearing retirement. Many high school students might consider these rewarding vocations that don’t require four years of college and the associated degree. These workers are equally essential for Vermont’s future.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Economic development is maintained by a competitive tax structure, regulatory environment, affordable business cost factors (e.g., electricity and heating costs), a qualified workforce and a desirable place for employees to live. Historically many businesses that have located in Vermont where they might thrive, also invest in their employees’ training, education, and development. Often these businesses have utilized Vermont’s institutions of higher education to provide this additional education. Vermont’s secondary and institutions of higher education should consider the business community needs in their educational programs. Young people raised and educated in Vermont must have access to entry-level positions with sufficient pay to remain in this State. Businesses must not be challenged with the uncertainties of permitting and Vermont’s experiments in health care.
OPIATE ADDICTION: Three components to address addiction are: enforcement, treatment, and prevention. For enforcement, drug dealers must know that in Vermont they will be aggressively pursued, prosecuted and if convicted, they will face a significant time in prison — no slaps on the wrist. These efforts must be adequately funded. Those presently addicted must have treatment available with the goal of being substance-free. Most importantly, the State would work on prevention. Of course, there is education, and though it may sound trite, CDC statistics and a recent conversation with a mental health care professional indicate that a decent job is a major factor in prevention.
RENEWABLE ENERGY: In talking with constituents who support renewable energy, a majority have expressed concerns about the proliferation of solar arrays in the Route 7 corridor in Ferrisburgh and south. Some don’t consider them aesthetically appealing and a detriment to Vermont tourism business segment. To that end the legislature ought to allow greater local control over the siting of large scale renewable generation plants. Of course, this excludes rooftop solar panels. Some farmers have expressed concerns that too much agricultural land has been converted to non-productive solar arrays. I am also concerned with the costly and time-consuming procedures as a result of Act 174, “An act relating to improving the siting of energy projects.”
AGRICULTURE: Agriculture is a very important segment of Vermont’s economy. The annual sale of dairy products is about $1.3 billion — mostly sold out of state and bringing money into Vermont. The farms of Vermont are indirectly a great benefit to the tourism industry due to the scenic vistas they allow instead of a forested landscape. The UVM Extension Service has provided great support for farmer organizations, such as the Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition, as farms adopt agricultural practices, such as, no-till, cover crops, and manure injection, in order to reduce runoff into Lake Champlain. Agriculture in Vermont must be competitive nationally, therefore, regulations must not be too onerous or costly, and the cost of doing business here must also be competitive.
CANDIDATE’S CHOICE: The ‘Best of Vermont’: great scenic beauty, a clean environment, engaged communities and so many hard-working citizens. Yet too many residents are very concerned whether they can still afford to live here or retire in their homes. It’s a matter of ‘cost of living’ or affordability. Taxes are still increasing beyond inflation. Housing, heating and food costs are expensive in Vermont. New England electricity prices are high and Vermont has increasing upward pressure on electricity costs. As a legislator, my goal has been, and will be, to uphold the Best of Vermont, and not allow costs to continue to spiral upward so that young people, retirees, and businesses are forced to leave for financial survival.
MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION: In Vermont, medical marijuana was legalized in 2004 and in 2016 was expanded to also allow treatment for “chronic pain”.
As I voted in 2016, I would again vote “No” for the legalization of so-called recreational marijuana.