Let’s Tackle the “Tough Things” Together to Improve Prosperity in Vermont
At the first of three Legislative breakfasts, Governor Peter Shumlin encouraged a packed house of business leaders and legislators to find common ground, work together, and compromise to ensure that we improve our collective prosperity. The Governor described four areas that his Administration will be focused upon this session to grow jobs – broadband connectivity, health care, renewable energy and education. Many of the Governor’s interests match our organizations’ priorities for the upcoming legislative session (scroll down for more details). Watch Governor Shumlin’s Speech at the breakfast here: https://vimeo.com/56990856
Vermont will be unable to compete for economic development if we are left behind in connectivity, reported the Governor, and therefore, by the end of 2013, the Administration will be delivering on their promise of having 100 percent statewide broadband coverage. Only 70 locations are left to cover for telecommunications infrastructure in Vermont, and when complete, Vermont will be among the states with the highest broadband speeds in the nation and fifth fastest in the world.
The Governor described how our current health care system is going up two to three times our incomes and if Vermont can design the first sensible and affordable delivery system in America, we will be able to attract more businesses to our state. He asked the audience to figure out what we are paying now as a percent of our income and business costs and if we can pay less by redesigning the system and spreading out the costs, then we will grow more jobs and opportunities.
It is critical to move from oil based energy sources to renewables in order to combat climate change and improve the environment, according to the Governor. He believes Vermont has a reputation for clean and green jobs and promoting renewables will grow our economy.
Governor Shumlin has heard from a significant amount of employers that Vermont’s biggest challenge is not having enough employees with the skills necessary to do the jobs that employers need. He will be proposing new investments in education and changes to our curriculum requirements in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math.
The Governor also reiterated his commitment to balance the budget without raising broad based taxes, explaining that he will be proposing some cuts to programs.
Top Notch Education to Match Investment to Outcomes
The state must implement significant systemic change in order to align our education system with both the changing needs of students and the realities of the 21st century employment market.
Our education governance system must be reorganized to improve coordination and equity statewide, simplify the work of school officials, and improve the retention of school leaders.
Fair and Predictable Tax and Fiscal Policy
We must preserve and improve incentives and policies that promote business start-ups, help current businesses expand and existing business stay here.
Before tinkering with tax policy, a more in depth and comprehensive analysis of our tax structure (including property taxes and education finance) than has been done to date must be undertaken.
We have reached our taxing capacity. Spending must be aligned with current revenue and funding for programs prioritized, in light of those revenues.
Health Care – Planning for Change
The Health Insurance Exchange must be operational in sufficient time to allow businesses to plan for the change. An “off-ramp” should be in place should the Exchange not be ready well ahead of 2014.
Health care reform must have a sustainable financing plan that does not put Vermont employers at a competitive disadvantage or create a system that discourages business from locating here. It must address the cost shift as well as reduce overall costs in the system.
A Quality Environment
Focus on private sector solutions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the commercial and industrial sectors. The goal should be lowering our carbon footprint while decreasing business expenses.
Systemic improvements to the land use permitting process and cost effective water clean-up efforts which protect Vermont’s environment while securing the future of our economy must be undertaken.
Improving Employment in Vermont
Make a concerted effort to reduce the baseline cost of doing business in Vermont. Reducing costs like workers’ compensation insurance allow employers to offer better and different benefits to employees.
Join us for the February Legislative Breakfast – click here to register.