The economic instability facing Vermonters today is a crisis, especially with COVID-19 hitting our country hard. We have been extremely lucky that our state legislature has worked diligently to secure federal funds to aid in economic recovery efforts regarding COVID-19, but families are still hurting. Many Vermont families were struggling obtaining healthcare and keeping cash in their pockets before this pandemic, but being in the midst of it; it’s very clear that we cannot simply return to business as usual.
We must implement all of the policies below with a focus on COVID-19 RELIEF and sustainable prosperity while adapting to a post-COVID-19 world.
-Affordable housing will provide safety for families in a post-COVID world
-A livable wage will allow for emergency reductions in business operations buy allowing all Vermonters to have a financial safety net.
-Expanding the number of smaller sustainable businesses would reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses.
-Healthcare as a right would allow all Vermonters to have regular check-ups and proactively protect the health of all of us
ASSURE AFFORDABLE HOUSING by increasing outreach and availability of shared equity mortgages, homestead and income sensitivity programs.
Common Questions about this issue:
Q. “What is ‘shared equity’?
A. Shared equity home ownership is a way to lower the cost of buying a home. Champlain Housing Trust’s shared equity program enables people to buy a home without a down payment and with a reduced mortgage.
Q. What is a ‘homestead program’?
A.Vermont’s Homestead Declaration allows homeowners who own a home and live there the majority of the year to pay a lower Education tax on that property.
Q.What is ‘income sensitivity’?
A.Vermont’s Income Sensitivity program takes into account a homeowner’s income when assessing property taxes, saving the average Vermont Homeowner nearly $1400 in property taxes.
Healthcare is a human right, and Vermonters should not face mounting debt and bankruptcy because they require medical attention. Providing every Vermonter with premium-free and deductible-free medical treatment is not only the right thing to do, it is the most cost-effective thing to do. Healthcare for all will ensure that Vermonters won’t have to choose between putting food on the table and going to the doctor. I will fight for those families to pass healthcare for all and to defend the sexual and reproductive healthcare for all Vermonters.
Common questions about this issue:
Q. How will you pay for this?
A. This is paid for by several initiatives: First, reallocating funds. The average Vermonter pays over $6100 per year in healthcare costs already in the form of co-pays and deductibles and premiums.
Second, create a single-payer system giving our state the power to negotiate directly with healthcare providers. Our goal is to save the average Vermonter money AND guarantee health insurance coverage. Vermont ALREADY does this for residents under 18 years old via the Dr. Dynasaur plan.Third, close tax loopholes for the wealthy & for upper-income out-of-state filers.
Vermonters need a living wage. Wages have been stagnating for decades, and we can no longer afford to pay starvation wages in the name of profit. Families with limited disposable income are forced to seek goods and services out of state and out of the country in order to make their limited dollars go further. This cycle is a drain on the local economy. I will fight for a $15 minimum wage to ensure that working families are able to live in dignity, get paid leave, and that they are empowered to invest their earnings towards local sustainable small businesses. Everyone benefits from a livable wage! We must ensure a LIVABLE WAGE of at least $15 and hour to guarantee that working Vermonters are living in dignity--not in poverty. This is conducive to the American Dream.
Common questions about this issue:
Q. “Won’t that hurt small business?”
A. No. On the contrary, working Vermonters have very little disposable income BECAUSE of low wages. Most cannot even support the businesses they work for and are required to buy their necessities at big box stores like Walmart or online on Amazon. This drains funds from our local economy even further. Low-wage workers WANT to buy quality, local products and services--they simply lack the funds. A livable wage would allow them to put money directly into our local economy.
COMBATING CLIMATE CHANGE with increased outreach and individual low-cost and cost-saving initiatives. Composting, recycling and other environmental initiatives should be cost-friendly. Our state will save millions of dollars by reducing the need for landfills and the savings to our environment will be incalculable. These savings will be passed down to individuals and small businesses in the form of reduced fees and taxes.
ADDRESS THE OPIOID CRISIS by decriminalizing addiction and removing the stigma of treatment. People with opiate addiction need to either receive treatment or continue using--there are no other alternatives for them. Arrest and incarceration does not address this fact and only exacerbates the problem by continuing their addiction, ruining their chances for a healthy future and costing taxpayers far more money than treating them would.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM with a concentration on reallocation of funding and abolishing cash bail and for-profit prisons. Expand our criminal justice network beyond police. We need to stop having to turn to police to solve every one of society’s problems. They are overworked and more police is not the answer. We need to start immediately shifting duties such as routine traffic stops, noise complaints, homeless complaints, etc. to trained social workers to mediate rather than officers trained in the use of deadly force. This will reduce the workload of the police so drastically that retiring officers will not have to be replaced. We can concentrate on a much smaller and better trained police force.
We absolutely need EQUITABLE EDUCATION FUNDING if we expect better student outcomes. Inadequate education increases risk of poverty, and poverty is the leading cause of homelessness and increased risk of trauma. It's a cycle that needs to be broken with better care for our schools. We must assure that all schools have access to the same education opportunity and raising all starting teacher salaries to $60,000. We need to break the cycle of poor school districts paying teachers far less than wealthier districts. All of Vermont’s school districts should have the best teachers--not just the best they can afford. This is an investment in our children as they will have the opportunity for more prosperous lives. This will have an immediate impact on the lives of our teachers, who will be able to invest financially in our communities.
Common questions about this issue:
Q. Why $60,000?
A. Better pay for teachers means students do better. There have been studies done that show real tangible increases in student performance and learning outcomes when teachers are paid fairly. With this higher pay, on top of equitable funding for all schools, poorer schools will be able to attract more qualified teachers and our kids will benefit. Additionally, public school teachers often have out of pocket expenditures on school supplies that is a drain on their already unfairly low annual income. Addressing teacher wages will address this problem.
Q. But better funding for our school won't have a immediate impact on my child's learning right?
A. Actually it will. In fact, learning outcomes can be radically changed for the better with shifts in curriculums and learning environments. Our leaders simply need to actually commit to our children and their education.
SUSTAINABLE SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT with tax and fee incentives for employers to pay a livable wage and operate with minimal impact on our environment. Let’s create a cleaner, safer and more beautiful milton. If small businesses can pay their workers a livable wage and be good stewards to our environment then they deserve a substantial reduction in fees and taxes. This will allow small business to directly compete with out-of-state mega-businesses--paving the way for many new owner-operated establishments and keeping our wealth in our state.
LGBTQIA+ AND PEOPLE OF COLOR INCLUSIVE CURRICULUM IN ALL VERMONT SCHOOLS to assure that our young people are knowledgeable of and foster a sense of belonging for all of Vermont’s population. We have a long and sad tradition in Vermont of xenophobia. We need to celebrate our differences and, to do that, our children need knowledge of the beautiful rainbow of different people in our state. Some have moved from other places and some of us have been here all along but have been afraid to be ourselves. We are ALL Vermonters and we need to foster kindness and understanding in our communities.
Create an initiative with these policies and others to FOREVER END HOMELESSNESS in Vermont. Vermont only has about 2,000 homeless individuals. Right now the majority of them are being housed in motels to avoid the spread of COVID-19. With affordable housing, healthcare, a livable wage, addiction treatment, increased social worker availability and criminal justice reform we can make ending homelessness a reality.
Force CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM so that politicians work for the people--not corporations. Our politicians should not be beholden to wealthy individuals and corporations. Campaign contributions should be controlled as we move towards a publicly funded campaign finance system--leveling the playing field for all Vermonters to run for office and actually have a government by the people and for the people.
Ember Quinn (she/they)
Facebook: Ember Quinn