Issues

For the past three years, I voted in favor of our State Budgets.  In my view, unlike in prior years, the last three budgets were relatively responsible - making some small investments where needed, and protecting the most vulnerable.

Indeed, if it had been solely up to me, I would have made some different spending decisions through the years (increased investment in tourism promotion, for example).  But, the development of a State Budget is a collaborative process with a great deal of give and take.  And, in the end, I did believe in each of the last three years, that we had a sound, sustainable budget in front of us.

While I am very hopeful that this trend will continue, I am concerned that the louder and louder calls for increased spending and new state programs will start to gain traction.

Rest assured, I will continue to do all I can to ensure the trend we have just recently begun of sustainable spending continues.

I have spent much of my time over the past thirteen years advocating for greater attention to, and investment in, our state’s economic growth.

And, while I'm proud of my achievements over that time, I have found that far too often, the health of our state's economy is on the back burner when it comes to legislative priorities.  This began to change with the leadership of Governor Phil Scott, but there is still a great deal to do.

We must make economic growth a legislative priority each and every legislative session.

 

Since arriving in the Vermont House in 2007, I have been a fierce advocate for local control - both in terms of education finance and budgets, and in terms of education delivery, local decision-making, and the creation of school district policies.

Unfortunately, as the years have passed, the growing trend has been to wrest more and more control from the local districts and voters and put it in the hands of the state.

From decisions about what kind of cleaning products a school must purchase, and purposefully placing communities in the position of having to eliminate educational choice for parents and students, to the state-mandated change to proficiency-based learning, and the forced consolidation of school districts under Act 46, local authority and decision-making by school boards and voters is being replaced by the top-down, one-size fits all, approach to education.

This trend, especially in a state that claims to value local control of education, is a great disappointment, and one I continue to fight. 

For the past 13 years, I have vigorously advocated for education funding reform and property tax relief.  Time after time, I have tried to educate my colleagues on the unfairness and unsustainability of the current system, and have pleaded for comprehensive reform. Yet, time and again, my pleas have been dismissed by the legislative leaders.

Now, yet again, we are facing a 6% increase in our property taxes this year to pay for education spending.

Unfortunately, I fear that instead of addressing the root cause of the problem - the education funding system itself, and reconnecting Vermont voters to the budgets they vote on and money spent - leaders in Montpelier will continue to wrest more and more control from local districts and voters, and put it in the hands of the state; continue to advocate for top-down mandates from Montpelier that they say will bring spending under control; and continue to blame local voters and school boards if spending increases.

To that, I simply say "ENOUGH!"

Our education funding system is broken and beyond repair.  It is time for meaningful reform.

The only way we will achieve true sustainability in the program and long-term property tax relief is to create a system in which more Vermonters are connected, better, to their spending decisions.

Rest assured I will continue my vigorous advocacy for just that.