2015 Legislative Agenda

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 want to participate in advancing parts of our agenda, please contact VBSR Public 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.