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Businesses Need Health Care Reform

by Dan Barlow on Dec 19th, 2014

Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility is disappointed in Wednesday’s announcement that the Governor and his administration is abandoning a health care financing plan for “the foreseeable future.” We would have preferred that the Governor release a menu of financing options and used his position to facilitate a debate about the challenges and opportunities for fixing the current broken financing system for health care.  As the Governor acknowledged in his opening remarks, health care costs and the unresolved cost shift, threaten to overwhelm our economy.

VBSR has spent 25 years advocating for health care reform and that work will not stop. Problems with the equity and financing of health care persist and must be addressed.  Vermont’s business community needs a level-playing field in which all contribute based on ability to pay and all will benefit. We need to remove the link between insurance and employment. That will allow businesses to do what businesses do best - expand operations, create jobs, and increase the wages of hard-working Vermonters.

VBSR will continue to work for the reforms our business members and their employees need. We believe that with sufficient will and imagination, we can bend the cost curve and design a financing system that benefits Vermonters and the Vermont economy. We look forward to having that conversation and furthering the goals of health care reform in 2015.

2015 Legislative Agenda

by Dan Barlow on Dec 17th, 2014

VBSR's Public Policy team looks forward to working with the Legislature and our members to craft policies that support socially responsible businesses. If you have any questions about our agenda, or you want to participate in advancing parts of our agenda, please contact VBSR Policy Manager Daniel Barlow.

Health Care Reform
Pass a fair and sustainable financing plan for universal health care that controls costs and allows our economy to grow.

-     Vermont needs to reform health care so that all residents are covered under a basic plan that is funded based on a person’s ability to pay, not how much care they need.

-     Remove the link between health care and employment. All businesses should contribute to publicly financed health care through a payroll tax system.

-    Just as all Vermonters are covered, all Vermonters should pay something toward our public health care system. This includes taxes on earned and unearned income to ensure that everyone is contributing based on their ability to pay.

-    A sustainable financing plan for health care should weather economic downturns and major external changes. This plan should include multiple revenue options to create a broad tax base and minimize regressive taxes and one-time sources of money.

-    The financing plan should stress simplicity and be easily understood by most Vermonters. Residents and businesses should have no problem linking the taxes they pay to the benefits they receive.

-    A strong basic health care benefit package for all Vermonters is essential to reform. This benefit should meet the basic health care needs of residents and minimize the use of co-pays and deductibles and other barriers to accessing care.

-    The transition from our present health care system to the new one should be measured and orderly, including phasing in key reform elements over several years to reduce the volatility of change and to allow Vermonters and businesses to prepare.

Energy and the Environment
Take action against climate change by placing an appropriate price on pollution, reduce Vermont’s dependency on dirty fuels and to grow jobs here in the state.

-    Vermont needs to take bold action to combat climate change and move away from dirty fuels. Taxing pollution and returning a majority of the revenue back to Vermonters while also investing a small portion in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects is essential to meeting the state’s carbon reduction goals.

-    Economic modeling has shown that a fairly priced pollution tax will increase jobs, put more money in the pockets of hard-working Vermonters and reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

-    Reduce the regressivness of a pollution tax by targeting financial relief to low-income families using existing benefits infrastructure, such as the electronic benefits transfer system.

-    Vermont's businesses and residents depend on clean, safe water and the State needs to fulfill our federal legal obligations regarding water quality.  VBSR would like to see the State of Vermont take actions to solve our growing water pollution problems including placing an appropriate price on water pollution. 

Taxes and Public Investment
Update the state’s tax code to make it fairer, more sustainable and transparent.

-    Adopt the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Tax Commission, including moving to Adjusted Gross Income, creating a fair minimum tax rate for high-income earners and adopting a rigorous review standard for tax credits and exemptions.

Good Jobs and Good Workplaces
Encourage the creation of ‘Living Jobs’ because Vermonters working full time should not live in poverty or need public assistance to survive.

-    Raise the profile with the Vermont Legislature and the state’s business community about the economic and social importance of creating jobs that have the wages and benefits that allow Vermont families to thrive.

-     Highlight the ways Vermont businesses use the state’s Basic Needs Budget and how the state can support, retain and attract businesses that offer living jobs.

-    Vermont can incentivize companies that create Living Jobs by creating a state contract purchasing preference for companies that pay a living wage, offer strong benefits to their employees, and follow good workplace practices. State contracts paid for through our tax dollars should not be awarded to companies that pay so little that their employees need public assistance to survive.

VBSR Releases 2013-14 Legislative Scorecard

by Dan Barlow on Oct 30th, 2014

Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR) released a scorecard today grading members of the Vermont Legislature on recent votes at the Statehouse that were important to its members.

The scorecard gives members of the Vermont House and Senate scores from 100 percent to 0 percent, depending on how they voted on a number of important business issues during the 2013-14 biennium. VBSR considered votes on raising the minimum wage, GMO labeling, universal pre-kindergarten, equal pay, expanding net metering, updates to Act 250, and toxic chemical regulation and reform.

Read the scorecard here.

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