We have been busy here at the Campaign! Here is our Spring update on all the activities we are engaged on.
“Ethics reform has been a point of surprising debate this year as the Senate Government Operations Committee is attempting to move a bill that would create a universal code of ethics for public officials. Other initiatives such as housing reform and workforce development also show positive signs.” - CFV President Pat McDonald
2022 Legislative Priorities Survey:
Back in January we asked folks to tell us what we should focus on for the 2022 legislative session, and you responded! Click the link below to see our full survey results.
2022 Legislative Priorities:
- 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.
The legislature has reached the halfway point of the 2022 session and we have been there for all of it, tracking the issues that most matter to you.
In addition to our legislative work, we have a number of research projects lined up. Here are a few of them:
Tourism Innovation – 32,000 jobs on the line
We think there is an opportunity to better leverage our existing spending on tourism advertising and as a workforce recruitment tool. Spending on amusements and other experience-economy spending categories grew eight times faster than overall consumer spending between 2014 and 2016. This demonstrates an opportunity to capture a larger economic foothold with the Vermont experience economy. We need financial support to expand our work in this area as we network with experience economy business across the state and provide training and support. Find out more.
Water Quality - Finally getting pollutants out of our waterways
A number of new technologies are being developed at top universities that can actually remove phosphorous and other pollutants from waterways. This could be a gamechanger for Vermont. Our existing efforts have been focused on simply reducing current runoff, not addressing the existing pollutants that will take decades to remedy without intervention.
In addition, there is also an incredible opportunity for these technologies to be commercialized here – securing a foothold in an industry with over $500B in projected revenue by 2028. We need your help to bring this project forward to the legislature and other stakeholders, build consensus, and actually make progress. Find out more.
Affordable Health Care - Pinpointing where our health care dollars are actually going
Starting in January, 2021 hospitals were required to disclose all standard charges for common procedures across all payer types (cash, private insurance, Medicaid/Medicare). The second iteration of this data is coming next month and we would like to analyze the two years of data to better inform consumers about which hospitals offer the lowest rates for the procedure they are looking for. This analysis would also potentially tell us which procedures hospitals make their margins on and which one’s insurance providers have negotiated down. Find out more.
Broadband Expansion - Reaching the last mile TODAY not in five years
Rural Vermonters cannot wait any longer for broadband internet. Stories of students driving 30 minutes to use the WiFi signal are heartbreaking and totally avoidable with today’s technology. It’s time for universal broadband NOW. We are concerned that the state’s current effort is rolling out too slowly and with a cost so high that we will run out of funds before we reach the last mile. We want to conduct audits every six months of the state’s progress and cost profile. In addition, we would advocate for solutions that are both lower cost and faster to deploy. Help us advocate for rural broadband by clicking here.
Solving our Pension Crisis – The towering financial problem
We would like to work on a second phase of our project on public employee compensation. Specifically, some things we would like to look at are comparing benefits for top rated business to the teachers and state employees, analyzing occupation-specific compensation, and opportunity cost. Find out more.