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Rural Vermonters Face Challenges — So What Are Lawmakers Doing About It?

Donut graph asking how well you think most Vermont state elected officials understand the challenges facing rural Vermonters? 13% said very well, 45% somewhat well, 20% very little, 14% not at all, 8% don't know / refused. Margin of error is +/- 3.5%.
About one in three Vermonters - or 34 percent - said state elected officials have little to no understanding of the challenges facing rural Vermonters, according to the Rural Life Survey. We talk to lawmakers about how they're addressing those challenges.

The Vermont Rural Life Survey, a part of the VPR and Vermont PBS This Land reporting project, highlights the opinions and experiences of those living in the state. Vermont Edition is talking with key lawmakers about how they plan to keep up with changes, the challenges to revitalize our rural economies, and the limits of state government to address issues like broadband, demographics and health care.

About one in 10 of survey respondents said they have not gotten necessary health care in the past few years due to cost, insurance issues, travel involved or a lack of available appointments. Twenty percent of the more than 800 Vermonters surveyed said access to high-speed internet is a "problem" for them or their family. And nearly half of those surveyed said they'd advise an 18-year-old considering where to build a successful life and career to leave Vermont.

For more: Explore the survey results here.

Amid these challenges, about one in three Vermonters said their state elected officials have little to no understanding of the challenges facing rural Vermonters.

Joining this discussion on how lawmakers are addressing the challenges in rural Vermont are:

  • Sen. Becca Balint, a Windham County Democrat on the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs
  • Sen. Randy Brock, a Franklin County Republican who also is on the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs
  • Rep. Laura Sibilia, a Windham-Bennington independent who's a member of the House's Rural Development Caucus

Broadcast live on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

This Land in green text. The changing story of rural Vermont, in black text.
Credit Kyle Blair / Vermont PBS
Vermont PBS

This fall, VPR and Vermont PBS are collaborating to present This Land: The Changing Story of Rural Vermont to explore the challenges and opportunities of living in rural Vermont — from health care and education to the economy, housing, workforce training and so much more.

This project was made possible by our supporters, and by AARP Vermont and the Vermont Community Foundation.

The Vermont Statehouse is often called the people’s house. I am your eyes and ears there. I keep a close eye on how legislation could affect your life; I also regularly speak to the people who write that legislation.
Originally from Delaware, Matt moved to Alaska in 2010 for his first job in radio. He spent five years working as a radio and television reporter, radio producer, talk show host, and news director. His reporting received awards from the Alaska Press Club and the Alaska Broadcasters Association. Relocating to southwest Florida, he was a producer for television news and NPR member station WGCU for their daily radio show, Gulf Coast Live. He joined Vermont Public in October 2017 as producer of Vermont Edition.
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