The 2022 legislative season is in full swing. As the legislature transitions back to in-person meetings and start to advance larger policy issues, we launched our annual survey to gather Vermonter's thoughts on what our priorities should be.
In order to further our goal of advocating for issues that boost working class Vermonters, we surveyed Campaign for Vermont followers about what issues impact their daily lives to most, what is most likely to improve the social and financial situation of a family, and what issues people would most like to see the legislature tackle. Here are the results!
We asked respondents what the legislature should focus on in 2022.
|Over a third responded that economic recovery should be the priority, with a nearly equal number of respondents saying that eliminating the pension deficit should be to priority. Education funding equity came in a distant third at 13% and all other responses were less than 10%.|
Campaign for Vermont Focus
We asked respondents what CFV should focus on in 2022. This question was structured a little differently this year, allowing respondents to rank their top three priorities.
|The re-structuring of this question yielded surprising results with pensions, workforce, economy, and housing taking a clear plurality.|
The last question was a bit of a bonus. This gets back to our core missing - growing Vermont's middle class.
|On average, respondents found that their financial position has been pretty stable over the past year. No big gains and no big losses.|
We asked respondents to share, in a freeform response, what gives them the most anxiety when thinking about the future. Here are some of the key themes that were identified (size of the phrase indicates frequency it was mentioned):
What does this mean?
There are clear priorities among Campaign for Vermont's followers. We have taken this feedback and used it to develop a legislative action plan:
- Pension Reform - Campaign for Vermont saw great success in the Fall around our public employee compensation report. Building off of this success, we will seek to guide the outcome of pension reform discussions in the Legislature to ensure a resolution to Vermont's $4.5B unfunded retirement liability.
- Workforce Development - A fan favorite, workforce development seems to mean something a little different these days. Traditionally we have talked about workforce training, technical education, state colleges and other up-skilling programs. Now workforce development seems more like a proxy for workforce participation. Because of our constrained housing stock (which we address below) we can't simply import more workers, we must find ways to increase workforce participation from people who are already here. This will be the biggest challenge for our economy over the next few years.
- Economic Recovery - Of course, it's still about the economy, stupid. We will focus our work in the legislature to make sure that federal ARPA dollars make it to the right places and that we finally get Act 250 reform that will allow businesses the certainty they need to make expansion plans.
- Housing - Speaking of Act 250, this has emerged as one of the biggest impediments to building affordable housing. Between labor shortages, rising material costs, and unreasonable regulations it is nearly impossible to build houses under $300k, which creates a critical hole in Vermont's housing market.
- Ethics - We will continue our work towards a more accountable and transparent state government. Last year we worked on a bill to create a universal code of ethics across all branches of state government. We have already made great progress on getting this bill through the Senate and are hoping to see it passed into law this year.
If you have ideas please share them! Please use our contact form to submit ideas.