I thought it would be a good idea to elaborate on some important issues facing our state.
Vermont is a state of roughly 626,000 people. With such a small population, an even smaller tax base, and a still recovering economy, Montpelier shouldn't be pondering any tax increases. That means our property taxes shouldn't spike, nor should we be considering taxing services.
Vermont has a long history of fiscal strength, so we need to ask ourselves whether a discussion about increasing taxes is even warranted. I know that if I get to Montpelier, I'll make it my business to vote for fiscal responsibility and accountability before any word of a tax increase is uttered.
Furthermore, as an Independent candidate, I can play an active role in organizing an array of legislators to create an "issues caucus" focused on property taxes. This would basically be a non-partisan get-together to discuss how to deal with this important issue.
We also need to make sure the state continues to responsibly fund education - as our children are the state's future - but, again, it must not come on the backs of tax-saddled property owners. We need to make sure that the Education Fund is not used as a piggy bank. This is something that has happened in the past - to the tune of $27 million - it's irresponsible and it shouldn't become a practice.
That's $27 million that was shorted from public education. I will oppose any future attempt to dip into the education fund.
As our schools prepare our children for their future here, we must make sure that jobs are available and that Vermont is an attractive place to live and do business. Those jobs need to be competitive with neighboring states, both in compensation and diversity, and we need to be working to incentivize investment here.
Decent paying jobs will attract more people, and we can use economic development tools like the Vermont Employment Growth Incentive (VEGI) as a carrot to prompt more businesses to invest here. More people and more business mean more revenue, which means less talk about tax increases.
In regard to healthcare in Vermont, I want to be sure that I was clear in stating that more insured citizens mean that the State and the taxpayers will save money. It is a very complicated subject that must be addressed, and I am glad that there is currently a study that is examining the costs of implementation. I will say that, as a self-employed farmer with seasonal income and a 7-year-old daughter, Green Mountain Care's Dr. Dynasaur has been essential to my family's well-being and financial stability during these tough times.
Thank you for your time today.
Emmett Dunbar is an Independent Candidate for the Vermont House of Representatives.