January 16, 2016
2016-01-11 Letter to Colchester Legislators - Google Docs:
Senator DIck Mazza, Representative Jim Condon, Representative Joey Purvis, Representative Pat Brennan, Representative Maureen Dakin
Thank you for your service to Colchester and Vermont! Another tough legislative session looms and your task will be no easier this year.
Below are my views/priorities on the issues that deserve your focus and that of your leaders.
Please resist any impulse to waste time on minutiae, including expansive legalization of recreational marijuana. All other arguments aside, do not be cajoled into believing that you will have the opportunity to create a new revenue stream. Instead, you would enable a robust black market while creating yet another regulatory bureaucracy.
Control Overall State Spending
Recognize that Vermont has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. Please adopt that mindset and resist the temptation to raise taxes and fees yet again to balance the budget. Focus on efficiency in state government and reduce services as necessary. The AHS budget in particular is out of control.
Resist the siren song of budgeting on the notion of a “moral economy” where Vermonters needs and wants are so conflated that runaway spending is sure to follow. Vermont’s government role is not to meet all the needs/wants of Vermonters.
Keep the Cap on Education Spending
While Act 46 and the details within it are controversial, the fundamental premise, capping statewide education spending at 2%, is absolutely correct. Retain that and work on the details if you must. Do not succumb to the argument that because health care or other costs may have risen, the cap should change. Hold the line on total spending.
Reduce the overly generous income sensitivity element of education funding so that taxpayers vote more rationally on school budgets.
Carefully Scrutinize the Administration’s All Payer Waiver Request
The Administration wisely abandoned its single payer ideology as unaffordable. Do not allow Vermont to create an alternative that would pull Medicare funding under state auspices. The Medicaid crisis was created by the Legislature as part of the Single Payer/VHC fiasco. Please do not aggravate Vermont’s demonstrated inability to manage health care by allowing the Administration/GMCB to tamper with Federal control Medicare funds. Instead, keep focused on constraining the costs of Vermont’s health care rather than fiddling with the payment stream..
Vermont’s Regulatory, Population and Workforce Infrastructure Problem is Critical
Vermont’s workforce and demographic trends portend yet deeper trouble for our economy. The excessive time, energy and costs for doing business in Vermont are serious debilitating burdens on businesses. Because we lack common-sense regulation with swift decisions, capital investments are unnecessarily delayed in far too many instances. The regulatory and bureaucratic overburden at all levels of government is a major factor in the unsustainable costs of housing, business development and growth. A serious overhaul is long overdue and substantial improvements would send a potent signal that Vermont is open for business and job growth.
David Usher, 267 Biscayne Heights, Colchester VT 05446, 802 735-2233
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