By Guy Page
September 16, 2020 – No one can accuse Vermont GOP lieutenant governor nominee Scott Milne of pushing a lightweight policy platform. Yesterday he handed reporters a 33 page (plus glossy cover and binding), 10-point policy outline he calls PROGRESSVT.
The title is an acronym. For example “P” stands for “Protecting the Truly Needy.” “R” for “Revitalizing Rural Vermont.” The document name may be gimmicky but its contents are not superficial.
Not unlike Gov. Phil Scott for whom Milne would fly LG wingman, Milne focuses on economic quality of life. Here, abbreviated and paraphrased, is his 10-step program to Vermonters’ economic progress:
Protecting the Truly Needy – to make childcare more affordable, expand mandatory child-to-staff ratios. Repeal tax on social security. Expand income tax deduction for medical expenses. Recover improper unemployment benefits ($1.6 million in 2019) and give to people who qualify.
Revitalizing Rural Vermont – stop sales tax on broadband network equipment. Spend federal “block grant” $$ on rural communications. Exempt recreation trails and on-farm camps, tractor ride businesses from Act 250. Create income tax check-off donation for outdoor recreation. Pass Right to Farm anti-nuisance legislation.
Opening up the LT. Governor’s Office – Publicize every meeting of the redundant-sounding, influential Legislative Committee on Committees that appoints Senate committee members. Limit LG office spending growth to 2% per year. (Milne says office spending under LG Zuckerman has grown 30%.)
Growing Our Workforce – honor out-of-state licenses held by new Vermont residents. Work to roll back Trump administration limits on legal refugees.
Reforming Healthcare – End “surprise” out of pocket medical bills. Continue Gov. Scott’s All Payer Model health insurance. Require provider price transparency. Expand telehealth. Eliminate health provider Certificate of Need. Allow patients and primary care docs to establish direct payment without an insurance middleman.
Expanding Educational Opportunities – Fund K-12 public school innovation grants. Reduce facility costs through smart use. Fund higher education at rate of inflation. Include higher ed in Education Fund. Reward lower-spending school districts with lower tax rates.
Streamlining State Government – Consolidate state government. Strengthen ethics laws. Push Vermont Attorney General to make public records more available. Shift more government from state to county level. Reduce bureaucratic boards.
Securing Our Environment – Sales tax holiday for electric cars and energy efficiency. Expand state fleet of Electric Vehicles. Don’t build huge wind turbine projects without necessary transmission. Make municipalities upgrade aging, overflowing sewer infrastructure.
Valuing Entrepreneurs – Reform Act 250 to streamline downtown development. Give tax incentives to “angel” investors, film production, research and development, and enterprise zones.
Tackling Affordability – Continue Scott practice of matching state spending to wage growth. Eliminate military tax retirement income. Expand Earned Income Tax Credit. Streamline Act 250 for downtown housing projects.
PROGRESSVT doesn’t touch racial justice, abortion, commercial cannabis, mandatory vaccination, gun rights or other important issues. (He does cautiously, conceptually support mandatory Covid-19 vaccination in the Vermont Daily Two Minute Warning podcast, available to Podbean free subscribers.) N Vermont Daily plans to report what Milne and Democratic nominee Molly Gray think about these issues.
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