VBSR’s 2023 Legislative Priorities
For over 30 years, our organization has been advocating on behalf of the people, environments, and businesses of Vermont. VBSR has been a leader on legislative successes such as farm to plate, home solar investment, marriage equality, ban the box, clean water investment, earned paid sick leave, increasing the minimum wage, climate action, and much more.
It is unique that our organization advocates on a such a wide range of social equity and economic development issues, however, as socially responsible business leaders, we recognize that these issues – though seemingly disparate – all have lasting impacts on our business members, their employees, and the communities that we strive to support.
While voluntary changes inside our businesses can be key to creating more equitable, sustainable, and prosperous communities, only public policy can deliver the pace and scale of change needed to tackle our state’s most difficult challenges.
So, VBSR looks forward to building on this foundation in the 2023 session and mustering a powerful, business-driven voice for a more just, equitable, and thriving economy here in Vermont. With so many crises bearing down on our state, we will be focusing our efforts on the following high-impact issue areas.
Climate & Clean Energy
Climate change remains a critical threat to our communities, ecosystems, and shared economy. Vermont has the highest per capita emissions in the Northeast region and our lingering reliance on fossil fuels has not only kept pollution on the rise but stifled economic growth and opportunity.
Recognizing the urgency to tackle the climate crisis and steward our local economy, VBSR will continue to work with partners in the #ActonClimateVT Coalition to challenge this paradigm by advancing policies and programs that move our economy away from fossil fuels and toward a prosperous clean energy future including weatherization, clean transportation, in-state renewable energy, and finally passing the Clean Heat Standard.
Housing Vermont’s Workforce
Vermont’s Housing stock is extremely low; meanwhile costs are skyrocketing – with many Vermonters spending at least a third or more of their income on housing. As these challenges continue to grow, household buying power is declining, our workforce is shrinking, and businesses are struggling to attract and retain talent. Our state cannot tackle our workforce issues nor can we create a more equitable economy, without addressing our critical housing shortage.
VBSR will be advocating for state and federal investment to increase Vermont’s housing stock and bolster access to housing for low-to-moderate income Vermonters. We will also work to create new supports for communities to create and fund local housing trusts, improve existing homes via weatherization, and advance zoning and tax reforms to ensure every Vermonter is housed.
Employer-sponsored health insurance is unsustainable, unfair, and bad for our economy.
The average cost to an employer for a family health care plan is approaching $20,000 a year. The growth in health care costs is unsustainable and hampers job growth and salary increases.
Vermont must continue to work to find ways to reduce unnecessary waste in our health care system, invest in primary and preventative care, and support proposals to increase Medicaid funding for health care providers in Vermont, stabilizing our system of care and reducing the financial burden on commercial payers.
Supporting Vermont’s Care Economy
Workers across every industry and earning group benefit from investments in childcare and Paid Family and Medical Leave.
When done right, these benefits create predictable employment conditions, promote economic mobility, and serve as a critical tool for recruiting and retaining prime-age, high-quality workers, which builds our local labor force.
To ensure all families with young children have affordable access to high-quality child care, VBSR will advocate to transform Vermont’s Child Care Financial Assistance Program, support our early childhood education workforce, and establish a long-term, sustainable funding source for Vermont’s early childhood education system. Meanwhile, we will also be working to advance and fund a universal, mandatory Paid Family and Medical Leave program that is actionable, affordable, and just.
Interested in learning more? Click here to view the slide deck from VBSR’s legislative breakfast and as always, please contact our Public Policy Manager, Jordan Giaconia at Jordang@vbsr.org with questions, comments, or concerns.