Last November, legislative candidates put themselves before voters.
Vermonters spoke and Democrats listened.
The Democratic platform on economic, environmental, educational and social issues aligned with enough Vermonters in the November election to return a strong Democratic majority in both the Vermont House and Senate in 2015-16- contrary to how some would try and spin those election results.
Vermonters told us they wondered how we could keep and attract quality employers to build a workforce that meets current demands.
Democrats listened, and Vermont will be an easier place to organize and run businesses through legislation to modernize our Limited Liability Corporation law and Uniform Commercial code.
Tech companies are happy to see we repealed the Cloud Tax. Tourism marketing will be expanded to include not only Vermont as a great place to recreate, but also to bring your business- and raise your family.The Vermont Scholars and Internship programs were expanded to help keep our young college students here and reforming the Vermont Economic Growth Initiative (VEGI) will create more jobs and on-the-job training for employers.
Vermonters told us they value the beauty and wonder of our environment and accept that we all must do our part in addressing climate change. Democrats listened and acted, with the RESET program to increase electric consumption from renewable energy sources, support community generation, and promote innovative projects that reduce our carbon footprint and save money.
Vermonters reminded us that swimmable, drinkable, fishable waters not only contribute to our quality of life, they contribute over $2 billion to our yearly economy; however pollution is putting this huge economic driver in great jeopardy. In response, the Democrats worked across party lines and galvanized a decade’s worth of work into Act 64.The Clean Water Bill finally puts resources and enforcement in place to address a problem that has been a century in the making and will take decades to overcome.
Protecting our children is as important as anything we do as a civilized society.
Vermonters around the state were outraged when two toddlers lost their lives to domestic violence. Bringing together family, caregivers, law enforcement and state workers to help craft a bill that would make a difference,the legislature made changes to child abuse reporting laws; improved lines of communication among those looking out for child safety; put the focus of where to place children in vulnerable circumstances on “best interests of the child” and made changes to bail determination when related to child abuse.
As importantly, the underlying factors of mental health and addiction will get more attention and services will be expanded and easier to access.
And finally, Vermonters asked us not only to balance a budget in the current year; but to set a course that addresses our financial future- and to do it in a balanced reasonable way that shares the sacrifice. Since the Great Recession that started in 2007, revenue growth nationwide has slowed and federal funding for many programs has disappeared. In an effort to create a sustainable solution going forward, advocates from a wide political spectrum asked for a multi-year approach in closing this gap. Working across party lines and engaging in multiple small group non-partisan strategy meetings, a multi-year plan ultimately found support from all House Appropriations Committee members regardless of party.
Vermont Democrats will continue to listen to Vermonters over pundits and will continue to govern, as is required of the majority party. Slick sound bites mask the complexity and difficulty of the issues presented and ignore the values Vermonters ask us to bring to our decision making- community, equality and common sense.
Bottom line is Democrats are listening -and governing- moving Vermont to a better today and brighter tomorrow.