Q: What laws, rules or regulations would you change or enact to encourage business to remain, grow or locate in Vermont, and that dissuade them from leaving? How would those changes work?
A: We all know that small businesses in Vermont are facing unprecedented challenges. We don't need to add to their burden by increasing taxes and regulations. In order to thrive, businesses need access to capital, they need to be encouraged rather than discouraged when they want to innovate, and they need relief from one of the highest tax burden in the country. It is imperative that we rebuild our economy and manufacturing capacity with a focus on local energy generation, sustainable agriculture and forestry while lowering the cost of doing business in Vermont. Vermont's current business climate makes it difficult to compete with other states, to expand existing businesses and attract new businesses. In addition, the high cost of doing business in Vermont undermines wages and job security.
To assist business, we need to reduce taxes, fees and insurance premiums, streamline the permitting process and remove unnecessary barriers to clean and affordable energy development. And, we need to invest in a highly skilled workforce to improve Vermont's competitive edge.
As a contractor for over 25 years and as a member of both the Transportation and Institutions Committees in the Senate, I recognize the importance of investing in both our physical structures and wireless and broadband technology. If we want to have a strong and growing economy, we need to invest in both digital and tangible improvements.
As a 5-term State Senator from Washington County, my service has been focused on 3 main principles:
1. Standing up for lower taxes and fiscal responsibility. When some in the Legislature wanted to raise taxes on manufacturers and farmers I led the effort to restore the domestic production tax deduction.
2. Being willing to do what's right not what's popular. This past spring, I was one of just 4 Senators to vote in support of Vermont Yankee- and the 650 Vermonters who work there.
3. Getting things done. As chairman of the Senate Institutions Committee I've been able to work across party lines to make smart investments in our state's infrastructure.
As Lieutenant Governor I will build on the leadership skills I have developed through my business, community and legislative experiences to:
Support Job Creation
I'll be a champion for pro-job policies that focus on getting Vermonters back to work -- such as lower taxes and access to capital for small businesses.
Encourage Community Service
I will work to inspire more community-led efforts to improve our environment and assist our friends and neighbors, like my "Wheels for Warmth" program.
Work to Cut Costs in State Government
I will be a voice of fiscal common sense -- always keeping in mind that the workers and businesses of Vermont pay the bills of state government. I firmly believe that government must live within its means just as families and businesses across Vermont do every day. In business, if expenses are outpacing revenues, you have to cut costs and figure out what's most important and prioritize.
Advocate for Reform of our Property Taxes
I will work hard to maintain the high quality education our kids deserve while pushing for long-overdue reform to the way we pay for education.
Aim to Strengthen Vermont's Infrastructure
I'll make sure we don't overlook the maintenance of -- and investment in -- our critical infrastructure, including good roads, safe bridges, and buildings with solid foundations. I'll also be a strong voice for wireless and broadband.
While we are working to improve Vermont's economic growth and develop sustainable and affordable tax and fiscal policies, we can't lose sight of the overall tax burden that Vermonters and business are facing. We need to consider the whole and be conscious of unintended consequences and potential cost shifts.
There are difficult years still ahead for Vermont. As Lieutenant Governor I will work with the Legislature and the next Governor like never before to enact balanced and responsible budgets and stimulate economic growth in Vermont. As Lieutenant Governor I will work to build coalitions and provide leadership in the Legislature. I have a proven track record of working across party lines and bringing people together to find common sense solutions. I have the skills to negotiate, deal with obstacles as they arise, and utilize the patience I've been given to set the right pace.