On Monday, Vermont Daily Chronicle emailed the same questionnaire to candidates in most contested statewide races in next Tuesday’s Democratic and Republican primary. Below are one candidate’s answers to these questions: “If elected, how would you:
Reduce the cost of living?
Promote widespread, affordable home ownership?
Protect the public from crime?
Promote successful schools?
Protect a clean environment?
Protect civil liberties?
In any other way promote the welfare of your constituents?
Charlie Kimball, Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor
Reduce the cost of living? There are many drivers to the cost of living, including housing, medical care, child care, gas and home heating fuel, taxes, just to name a few. The Lt. Governor has a limited ability to affect many of them. What I would do is focus on the practical and pragmatic solutions we can implement as a state.
a. Housing. Leverage the monies we have already allocated to fund permanently affordable housing units.
b. Medical Care. We just passed legislation to help teach and support more people entering the nursing profession. We need to see that through to reduce our reliance on the necessary but expensive traveling nurses. Also increasing the number of primary care physicians can help reduce costs and improve health outcomes and we can prioritize funding in that area.
c. Child care. We need to address the challenges of paying people in the profession a competitive wage with benefits to retain them in early childhood education and child care, alongside keeping it affordable for working families. We’ve already increased assistance through CCFAP but there are inherent challenges to doing that and still making the business work. Long term it is going to require public financing similar to universal pre-k.
Promote widespread, affordable home ownership? The shared equity approach is one which I would like to further promote, in which an income qualified buyer can purchase a home at below market rates in return for limiting their share of appreciation over time. They build equity but it is still affordable for the next buyer. The down payment assistance program through VHFA is successful and has been expanded. We need to support such programs. In the end we need to increase the supply of homes, making it easier to build in our growth centers through easing regulations for qualified projects. We’ve done good work there recently in the legislature but need to continue that work.
Protect the public from crime? Crime has always been with us and we, as a society, rely on one another to uphold the law and our police and court systems to enforce the laws. Having qualified, trained professionals in law enforcement is critical for public safety. But the best antidote to crime is improving the overall economic conditions of individuals. Supporting the community action agencies in their work to lift people out of poverty is a critical piece to addressing criminal activity.
Promote successful schools? Success is measured in many ways. I want to see a better path for individuals to pursue career and technical education while in high school so that they can succeed and excel in a way that inspires them and benefits them directly by acquiring marketable skills. We also need to narrow the performance gap between socioeconomic classes in schools. As Lieutenant Governor I would engage the stakeholders in education, labor, and human services to make this happen.
Protect a clean environment? Reducing GHG emissions by weatherizing more homes is one of the most effective things we can do. That requires more workforce development to train people in the field. I would work with the people in the industry and educators to develop that workforce. We have strong environmental protections in Vermont, though we need to do more around PFAS contamination in groundwater and continued phosphorous runoff into our lakes and streams. Part of the solution is staffing the vacant positions in state government to better facilitate permitting and regulatory oversight.
Protect civil liberties? We need to continue to enforce fair and impartial policing to protect civil liberties. We also need to pass Proposition 5 to protect reproductive liberty. There is always more for us to do to be diligent in protecting civil liberties, including criminal justice reform.
Promote the general welfare of your constituents? I believe that we can make it possible for anyone to find a meaningful career in Vermont in work that sustains them and fulfills them. That is the long term solution to promoting the general welfare of the state.