On Monday, Vermont Daily Chronicle emailed the same questionnaire to candidates in most contested statewide races in next Tuesday’s Democratic and Republican primary. They were all asked to provide a short bio and to answer 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?
Phil Scott, Republican candidate for Governor
Reduce the cost of living? Making Vermont more affordable has been and will continue to be a top priority of mine. In fact, over the last 6 years I have proposed several tax cuts and ways to make Vermont more affordable, but some of those ideas were met with resistance from the supermajority in the Legislature. However not all have been, and I’m proud of what we have accomplished in this area. This session alone, we were able to provide $40 million in tax relief to Vermonters. Throughout my time in office, I have also vetoed efforts that would have raised the cost of living for Vermonters. There is much more work to do, but if we stay focused on the fiscal fundamentals, I know we can make Vermont more affordable for families and businesses.
Promote widespread, affordable home ownership? We made record progress on affordable housing. In 2017, I proposed and the legislature passed a $37 million housing bond into law, which leveraged millions in private investment to construct several hundred homes statewide. In addition to this, I’m proud to say with the help of federal funds, we were able to beat this record in the last biennium and invested hundreds of millions to increase and improve rental housing, build homes for middle-income families, and more. As these projects begin to break ground, it’s important to have a steady hand at the wheel to make sure we continue to invest in housing and move projects along as efficiently as possible to get Vermonters the housing they need.
Protect the public from crime? Public safety should always be the number one priority of the government. Crime is certainly a concern for my administration, and we are working diligently to find solutions to deal with our critical workforce shortage in law enforcement and integrate our public safety system to serve all Vermonters in all 14 counties better. Last session, my budget built upon prior investments to support healthier and safer communities, including $8.1 million more to respond to the opioid and addiction epidemic, $3.9 million more for childcare, $2.4 million for mobile crisis response and suicide prevention, and $11 million to improve public safety dispatch services.
Promote successful schools? I believe that if we think outside the box, we can have the best cradle-to-career education system in the country. This requires investing money directly into the classroom, ensuring mental health services, investments in school safety, and efficient use existing money spent on education. We also need to be investing more in CTE (Career Technical Education) and trades training. There are so many great career paths for folks in the trades, but the stigma of being in CTE sometimes holds students back from taking the first step. I will continue to prioritize growing our CTE students populations and promoting all the good that comes from a career in the trades. We owe it to our kids to provide them with as many opportunities as possible, not just one-size-fits-all career paths.
Protect a clean environment? We’re grateful to have had the assistance of the American Rescue plan to help the state move towards our emission reduction goals. I’m proud of the investments we’ve made, including $225 million for initiatives that will help reduce carbon emissions. This includes investments in weatherization and to help transition to electric vehicles and more efficient home heating solutions, as well as, funds to help make communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change. We also invested $100 million in long overdue upgrades to our waste-water and sewer infrastructure, which helps downtowns thrive and keep our waterways clean.
Protect civil liberties? As Governor, I swore an oath to protect and defend our constitution. This is not just a formality of taking the job, but something I take very seriously. Our rights are not something to be taken for granted and I’ll continue to do what I’ve always done – fight for all Vermonters to have the best future possible.
In any other way promote the general welfare of your constituents? My priorities have been clear since the beginning: grow the economy, make Vermont more affordable, and protect the most vulnerable. While we’ve made record progress, I know the pandemic set us back and there is much more work to be done. If reelected, I will build upon the progress we made and help make Vermont an even better place to live, work, and raise a family in all 14 counties.