5-27-16 – Four Hard Questions for New and Returning Candidates

By Rob Roper

The deadline for candidates filing to run in November’s state elections was yesterday (Thursday, May 26). With many prominent members retiring, particularly from the House, there will be a lot of new names and faces appearing on lawn signs and palm cards in neighborhoods around Vermont this summer and fall. Here are four hard questions to ask the people looking to earn your vote….

The Carbon Tax. Where do you stand on a Carbon Tax? VIPRG and their coalition of 20 allied groups is pushing hard for a Carbon Tax: an excise tax on gasoline, diesel, home heating fuel, propane, natural gas and a few other fuels. When fully implemented the tax would add, for example, 89¢ to every gallon of gasoline and $1.02 to every gallon of home heating fuel. Back in 2014, Rep. Tony Klein, chair of the House Natural Resources & Energy Committee, said that passing a Carbon tax would be a three year process, and would not be done in an election year. That adds up to 2017 – right after this coming election – being the action year for the Carbon Tax. Is this year’s crop of candidates on board, or not?

Dr. Dynasaur 2.0. Where do you stand on the proposed “Dr. Dynasaur 2.0” program – essentially expanding children’s Medicaid benefits to adults 19-26 years old? Despite a structural state deficit and no visible revenue sources to cover the estimated $400 million price tag, the current legislature allocated $100,000 to study this idea. The Speaker of the House, now running for Lt. Governor, praised Dr. Dynasaur 2.0, and the usual phalanx of left wing lobby groups is lining up behind it. Keep in mind that the only hope the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has of being fiscally sustainability counts on those same young adults purchasing health insurance. Removing those healthy young people from the private market will both undercut the ACA, and will cause insurance premiums to skyrocket in addition to necessitating a massive tax increase necessary to pay for the program. Does this sound like a good idea?

Pre-K Expansion. Where do you stand on the expansion of publicly funded, public school run pre-k programs? There is a major push by advocacy organizations to expand Vermont’s current pre-k program, which provides 10 hours of subsidized class per week for three and four year olds, to providing a full day, 40 hour per week program for all four year olds. This full day, public school pre-k is currently being piloted in 8 supervisory unions throughout the state via a $33 million federal grant. The grant runs out in less than three years. Should the Vermont taxpayer pick up the bill for funding this program when the federal funds run out? And, in the name of equity, expand the program statewide, even if this means many tens of millions in increased property taxes? Are our candidates in favor essentially adding a grade to the public school system, or lower property taxes. Can’t be both.

School Choice. Will you demand and vote for a fix to Act 46 that preserves school choice in the towns that have had it for 150 years? According to many current legislators, they expected (and were told) Act 46 would allow for school choice towns to merge and keep their choice. In practice, school districts are now being told that choice districts may not merge with operating districts unless the choice district gives up choice or the operating district closes its school. This is either leading to a loss of school choice or gridlock in the merger process. In 2016 the Chair of the House Education Committee refused to even consider a legislative fix to this problem. Are this year’s candidates out to kill school choice or save it?

Be sure to ask these questions ASAP! Before the lobbyists and party leadership get to the newbies and tell them what to say.

– Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jim Bulmer May 27, 2016 at 9:55 pm

How about, “how do you propose to stop the ever increasing cost of educating a declining student population????” “How will you reduce the grip the NEA has on the legislature????” “How about abandoning the 95% green energy by 2050???? “

Reply

H. Brooke Paige May 28, 2016 at 12:09 am

Rob Roper’s “Softballs”

For actual Vermont taxpayers this four part test seems to be a “no brainer” and yet many will be surprised at the number of local and statewide politicians will have great difficulty in voting in support of the first signs of sanity under the Golden Dome to be spotted there in years.

Just to review and at the same time provide my answers:

CARBON TAX – NO WAY ! This is a cleverly disguised “Robin Hood” plan to steal from the taxpayers (especially those who actually work as well as retired folks) and hand out a portion of the “spoils” to the “lay-about” class in return for their continued support at the ballot box.

DR. DYNASAUR 2.0 – ABSOLUTELY, NO WAY ! How on earth are we considering 26 year old Adults as children ? This insanity creates the conditions where parents with 9 and 10 year old children are themselves still covered under the program. This $400,000,000 to $500,000,000 scheme is intended to bankrupt the state and the medical providers simultaneously. Dr. “D” 2.0 is a scheme to so corrupt the state’s healthcare systems that single payer will proposed as the only way to remedy the disaster that the schemers caused in the first place.

PRE-K FOR ALL – NO, a hundred million times, no ! The Department of Health and Social Services has already found that students who participate in Pre-K are indistinguishable from that who did not participate by third grade. HSS recommended saving the cash and “investing” it in post-secondary education. The Pre-K push is nothing more than a political favor for VTNEA to keep those membership numbers UP in the face of declining enrollment and school closings due to forced consolidation – a political favor with a $100,000,000 price tag.

SCHOOL CHOICE – ABSOLUTELY, YES ! The Brigham Decision was intended to improve the educational experiences for children who resided in “poor towns” however the legislation that was enacted to remedy the injury identified by the Vermont Supreme Court has done little more than to spread some cash around ! School Choice truly empowers parents and their children by allowing them to decide which school will provide the best opportunity for their educational success!

You Have My Answers, Where Do You Stand ?

H. Brooke Paige
The Conservative Democratic Choice for Governor

Reply

John McClaughry May 28, 2016 at 1:41 pm

So far Brooke Paige is the best candidate out there, for whatever collection of offices he has filed for this year. 🙂 Hopefully some others will catch up.
Rob has zeroed in on four really important questions, and I am tired (already) of hearing bold pronouncements about limiting the legislature to 90 days a year and excusing all veterans benefits from Vermont income tax.
More on this later!.

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