To the Editor:
Vermont’s upcoming gubernatorial primary on August 14 comes at a particularly troubled time. Congress and the Trump administration have called for major reductions in federal financial aid to the states. Further, successful federal/state programs, such as health insurance coverage, are being emasculated to the detriment of low- and middle-income earners.
Politically, Gov. Phil Scott has been largely silent in acknowledging or addressing these challenges and opportunities constructively. As a result, the state’s health and economic growth possibilities have been negatively affected.
Fortunately, a fresh, accomplished, experienced and courageous person to lead Vermont from these problematic realities to positive, constructive and decent outcomes is at hand with the Democratic candidacy of Christine Hallquist. Her business, professional and personal achievements are clear and impressive.
My sense is that Ms. Hallquist would agree that history has demonstrated that government investments, financed by progressive income taxation, can by design, successfully elevate the quality of life of its residents, foster economic and business growth, and increase upscale job growth and employee compensation.
An upscale Vermont should by design attract an inflow of persons from out of state and foreign locales including students and well-regarded teachers, vacationers, concert- and theater-goers, and high-income persons to live, raise a family, operate a business, work, invest and/or to spend their retirement years.
Challenges facing Vermont include:
1. Departure of young persons from Vermont because of high living costs.
2. Large increase in the senior citizen population, many of whom have inadequate incomes and resources to live their retirement years reasonably decently.
3. Inadequate health and dental insurance coverage for many Vermonters.
4. Necessity of appropriate and excellent education from pre-K through high or vocational school and beyond.
5. Nursing education in Vermont should be expanded and adequately financed to meet vital demands in this profession.
6. Vermont’s three state employee pension funds have a combined negative actuarial balance of $2.28 billion as of June 30, 2017 representing shortfalls of 16.3 to 46 percent. These negatives imperil appropriate and adequate retirement funding for state police, educators and Vermont’s broad array of employees. These negatives may deter qualified candidates for these jobs.
7. Failure of Vermont’s Legislature to reform its upside-down, dysfunctional, poorly responsive budgetary process. Delivery of appropriate and vital services to deserving Vermonters is frequently inadequate, inappropriate, late or not delivered.
8. Necessity for adequate affordable housing and elimination of both poverty and homelessness.
9. Vermont’s ultra-high property taxes should be sharply reduced. They are unfair and not based on one’s ability to pay. Progressive income taxes are a fairer and more productive source of government revenues.
10. Necessity to develop an advanced high-speed internet system statewide to significantly strengthen Vermont’s economy and its competitive position.
Vote for positive and constructive change. Vote for Christine.
Donald N. Horenstein