Add-5 Candidate Taborri Bruhl Q & A
HEALTH CARE: There are things that the market does very well, but delivering quality health care in an equitable fashion isn’t one of them — the state must stay involved to ensure that lack of affordable health care doesn’t serve to reinforce cycles of poverty. Going forward, we need to learn from past failures as best we can, and chart a path that is efficient and cost-effective. At this point, my feeling is that staying with Vermont Health Connect and continuing to improve it will likely be our best option, but I am open to changing course if the facts warrant.
SCHOOLS: Technical training or college is becoming indispensable for success in life, at the same time when costs for higher education are rising. As a society, investing in this training will reap many dividends — it will result in a more capable and agile workforce, it will strengthen our economy, and it is a proven way to help break the cycle of intergenerational poverty, which will in turn reduce costs for social services. Because these are investments that will pay us back, we would be wise to find ways to help fund them, but also to explore ways of keeping educational costs down.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Despite global forces working against small rural states like Vermont, we are holding our own in an increasingly changing and interconnected world. Our population is stable, and we currently have the fifth lowest unemployment rate in the U.S., at 3.3 percent. We rank high in business startup rankings and scores of entrepreneurial spirit. Our biggest asset is our brand, and we must protect it, to continue to draw in energetic businesses that further our deserved reputation for environmental stewardship, equity, and a vibrant democracy. To do this, we must make sure that our young people are as prepared as we can make them, starting with early childhood education and ending with affordable technical training or college. In terms of ongoing training or retraining, this happens best on the job, as businesses adapt to changing markets. Regulation, when required, should be well-thought out and cost-effective, and should avoid unintended consequences.
OPIATE ADDICTION: First, we need to continue current efforts to provide treatment, expand the availability of naloxone, support law enforcement in their interdiction efforts, and enhance education and awareness. But, this problem has two, somewhat separate, root causes — poverty and hopelessness, and an over-prescription of opioid painkillers. Some of our most cost-effective investments will be in these two arenas, in ongoing efforts to involve doctors and nurses in reforming the prescription process, and in providing smooth, clear paths for people to work their way out of poverty.
RENEWABLE ENERGY: The new energy bill, S-260, achieves a remarkable balance in this area. Climate change is real, and it is caused by humans, and 60 percent of that impact comes from the burning of fossil fuels. We have a moral obligation to move toward renewable generation, and to reduce our total energy consumption through efficiency and conservation. By the same token, however, we need to proceed in a thoughtful, deliberate manner that respects, as much as possible, all involved parties. As we become more efficient, we will also become wealthier — efficiency really is the “goose that lays the golden egg.”
AGRICULTURE: Agriculture in Vermont is part of the very bedrock of our being, but our farmers often find themselves struggling in a complex and changing world. I would like to be their helping hand in Montpelier, to help make sure that government and farmers are working side-by-side to strengthen profitability, improve our soils, to innovate, and to continue to make Vermont farms of all types and sizes prosper — not just for this generation, but for generations to come. In terms of water quality, the problems go far beyond just Vermont farms, and nearly every part of the economy will need to participate in the solutions.
CANDIDATE’S CHOICE: We need to get money out of politics; it is corrupting our democracy. Big-money donations elevate the interests of corporations and big industries above those of ordinary people, and the influence they purchase through large donations results in government spending that is, at best, less efficient than it could be, and therefore a form of an indirect tax. Money flows, in effect, from the pockets of taxpayers into theirs. Because of this, and even though I am running in a down-ballot race where large donations aren’t normally an issue, we have funded our entire campaign almost entirely with small donations.
MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION: Yes