Although the legislature is already very busy this session there is a sense of suspended animation – waiting to see what cards we are dealt. Those cards are Governor Scott’s budget address and the Trump card, what actions will be coming out of Washington affecting healthcare, education, and transportation.
So far specifics on the governor’s “Affordability Agenda” have been scarce. Though everyone is in support of affordability and government efficiency, the devil is in the details. An efficient government is not necessarily the same as a lean government – the first eliminates waste, the second may simply reduce the government’s ability to deliver essential services. We will know more of the details this week.
The rush in Washington to undo President Obama’s legacy is causing concern in every state, not just the blue states. Again specifics are lacking, but we have a pledge from President Trump to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with “something really terrific.” We can’t plan for these changes until we know what they are.
One thing we can do here in Vermont, rather than trimming budgets around the edges, is to look at fundamentally redesigning our most expensive programs. Toward that end I am co-sponsoring two bills. The first is to work toward implementing universal access to primary health care. Multiple studies prove that easy access to preventive and primary care results in long term savings by reducing emergency room visits and preventing serious and expensive illnesses in the future.
The second bill is to continue working toward affordable education funding (property tax reform) by extending income sensitivity all the way up the income scale – essentially linking property taxes to income across the spectrum.
In the last campaign by far the greatest concerns I heard were about healthcare (both the cost and the frustrating website) and property taxes. There are no quick fixes, but I do believe we can make lasting and real progress. Other areas I am working on include broadband access, farm viability, and livable wages.