Democratic Candidates For Governor Weigh In On Vermont Economy
Democratic candidate for governor Sue Minter has outlined a “plan to help grow Vermont’s economy” that calls for smarter use of existing programs to revitalize regional economies.In a press conference on the sidewalk of downtown Barre Monday morning, Minter said “too many Vermonters are struggling in an economy that is stacked against them.”
Minter said growing jobs and improving wages will happen when communities develop the infrastructure and workforce needed to support local industry. And the former transportation secretary says she’ll reform and realign existing public programs in ways that maximize their impact on local economies.
“The question isn’t how do we get new, it’s where and when do we strategically align those investments, like we did [in Barre], like we did in St. Albans, to have the special economic stimulus effect,” Minter said.
Minter says she’ll pick three communities in her first year as governor where she’ll focus her administration’s efforts.
Minter says she’ll also assemble three task forces that will study ways to advance the renewable energy, technology and manufacturing sectors. She says those task forces will produce recommendations in her first 90 days in office that will become fodder for an “Innovate Vermont Summit.”
"Within those 90 days, leaders within those sectors will report to me with their recommendation, and we will have an innovate Vermont summit with key areas of focus, strategic goals for how we continue to expand those areas,” Minter said.
Minter says her plan has the benefit of not requiring any new public funding. Matt Dunne, one of her rivals in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, says that’s actually one of its pitfalls.
“It’s going to take real investment to turn our economy around,” Dunne says.
Dunne says his economic development plan relies on new investments in affordable housing and improved broadband and cell service, and he’s called for $100 million in new spending to make apartment buildings more efficient.
Dunne says he’d fund that venture with a special bond that would allow the state to raise significant capital upfront, then pay it off over 20 years. Dunne says the savings in energy bills would provide the revenue needed to satisfy the debt service.
Dunne says the bond structure wouldn’t require general fund expenditures, and also wouldn’t count against the state’s general obligation bond cap.
Democratic candidate for governor Peter Galbraith, meanwhile, says his plan for the economy centers on increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour and focusing on the basic functions of government.
“Politicians love to talk about how they’re going to create jobs, but if it was easy to create high paying jobs it would have happened by now,” Galbraith says. “The only way you’re going to get all Vermonters a livable wage is by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and that’s my proposal.”
Beyond that, Galbraith says he’ll work to ensure Vermont’s basic services, like education and social services, are “adequately funded.”
“Vermont’s comparative advantage is that it’s a great place to live, it has a wonderful natural environment and it has great public services,” Galbraith says. “And so I want to maintain those quality public services.”