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Explore our coverage of government and politics.

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.
Matt Smith worked for Vermont Public from 2017 to 2023 as managing editor and senior producer of Vermont Edition.
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