2012 Legislative Report
Rebuilding Vermont Right
The flooding from Tropical Storm Irene left Vermont with tremendous challenges. VBSR believes we need to see this disaster as an opportunity to make long-lasting investments in our public infrastructure and communities, including using Vermont’s bonding authority to generate the funds for reconstruction. Vermont’s post-Irene reconstruction should include long-term disaster planning, including moving infrastructure away from rivers. Rebuilt roads should have bike plans to encourage alternative transportation and, if needed, be moved away from river routes. Home repairs should include weatherization work.
Health Care Reform
A November 2011 report from the Legislature’s Joint Fiscal Office found that Vermont would save up to $1.8 billion by transitioning to a single-payer system. VBSR believes that lawmakers should create a strong Health Insurance Exchange, one that is available to as many residents and businesses as possible, as the first step toward long-term reform.
Clean Energy and Conservation
Vermont needs to be aggressive in developing renewable sources of power and in increasing energy efficiency and conservation measures. VBSR sees strengthening and supporting the state’s Standard Offer and PACE programs as essential to putting the state on the road to a sustainable energy future. We also see tremendous economic opportunities in thermal efficiency; for every $1 invested in efficiency, there is $4 in financial return. That’s why we support legislation giving energy ratings to residential and commercial properties when they are put up for sale.
With the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant scheduled to close down in early 2012, VBSR believes the state should also tax the storage of nuclear waste. With no national solution on the horizon for long-term waste storage, Vermont faces huge risks in being the local depository. The funds generated from the tax can be used to create energy self-sufficiency in Vermont.
Tax Reform and the State Budget
Vermont faces yet another tight budget year in 2012 and there will be a temptation to further cut services to Vermonters. With the economy still slowly recovering, it is essential that we protect the most vulnerable members of our community. Instead of cutting state services, we believe that lawmakers should increase taxes on the wealthiest residents – ones who can afford to contribute more to our society and who have enjoyed more than a decade of generous federal tax cuts.
Corporations Are Not People
Outside political groups are expected to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in the national elections next year following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United. Vermont needs to take a stand against this flood of unaccountable money in our political system and pass a resolution calling on the U.S. Congress to act.