Priorities for
Vermont.

I’m running an ideas-driven campaign that will improve the lives of all Vermonters.

Inflation makes life harder, and it is growing at the fastest rate in 40 years. Democrats spent too much money in the $1.9 Billion Rescue Plan of February 2021 and other initiatives; the money from which mostly bailed out the large blue states. Now Vermont citizens are stuck with destructive inflation. Yes, inflation has made everyday items like food skyrocket. But the real cost is in human lives. If you are not rich, which is the vast majority of us, every additional cost makes your life smaller, and in some cases, puts your life at risk. When you spend more for food, rent, fuel, and other expenses, you can’t handle any unexpected problems with your car or medical costs or daily living. You can’t lead the life you want to lead, and you can’t afford to give your children or grandchildren any extras. Inflation makes people’s lives smaller and less significant. It is a crime against the very dignity of Americans. I want a government for the people not against the people. I pledge I will curtail wasteful spending in Congress that continues to weaken our economy.

Prices have skyrocketed for these essentials. Pay them you must: you have to heat your home and you have to drive. Increases in these costs are completely unnecessary. Two years ago, we had $2 gasoline. New policies under the democrats have forced a reduction in energy from our own country. We need to find a balance between our concern for climate and our concern for the lives of our citizens. Right now, citizens are being punished for climate initiatives that will make very little or no difference in the global crisis since China and India will just continue to pollute. China emits more greenhouse gasses than all other developed countries combined. We should not abandon fossil fuels if China and India will just use them more, especially when it is only our people who are suffering from the climate restrictions and theirs are prospering. While we must continue to seek to improve alternative energy, we must realize that energy independence brings cheaper gasoline and home heating fuel.

 You may not be aware, but in March the Senate passed a bill, the COMPETES Act, already approved by the House which provides $52 billion in funding to support the manufacture of semiconductor chips in America. Our Congressman and Senators have not done anything to allow Vermont to participate in this program. Under this bill, the federal government will invest in microchip fabrication facilities (‘fabs”) across the country typically next to universities. There is a $10B investment being discussed in Albany, just a few miles from our border. Guess how much is scheduled for Vermont? Nothing. No investment has been won or even sought by Peter Welch for Vermont. Our Congressman and Senators have missed an opportunity to make a major advance in Vermont economy. If you elect me as your Senator, I will bring a fabrication facility to the State of Vermont and gain additional billions from private companies partnering with the government, currently Global Foundries, Intel, and Samsung (Larry Rulison, “Intel says It’s looking at New York for chip fab,” Times Union, March 30, 2021). I will also seek to bring the new federal semiconductor research center which we are also not competing for (Larry Rulison, “Vison for federal chip lab laid out by IBM, Albany Nanotech,” Times Union, March 2, 2022). The center’s presence could produce additional billions more of investment. An investment of $2-8 billion from the federal government here would be the largest single investment in Vermont’s history, at the top end roughly equal in size to the entire state budget. We will be able to lift up all Vermonters with increased economic prosperity from this massive investment. But we need people in Washington who will fight for it, like me, and not ignore it.

I’m a Republican and I don’t believe in pork programs and free federal give aways. But there was a program known as earmarks (direct member appropriation) which Sen. Leahy brough back after many years of not being used. Sen. Leahy was the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations committee and had seniority over everyone on the committee. But the second ranking member, a man under Sen. Leahy, Sen. Richard Shelby from Alabama, got $650 million in earmarks (Alexander Bolton, “Lawmakers feast on pork in omnibus,” The Hill, March 10, 2022). How much did Sen Leahy get? Did he get more than the man under him? No, Sen Leahy only got $162 million. Sen. Leahy left at least $488 million on the table. The average earmark per member was $18.1 million ($9.7B/535) and Peter Welch only got $8 million (Sarah Mearhoff, “Vermont to see over $200 million from Congress’s $1.5 trillion appropriations bill,” VTDigger, March 9, 2022). Peter Welch got less than half of the average; in school 44% is a failing grade. Our democrat representatives have failed to get us the money we deserve. How much help could the missing $488 million given to social services, the police, and firefighters not to mention the schools, the hungry, and homeless families? If there is pork being handed out, we need to get the bacon because Vermont needs the money. I will reverse our failures here. Because our economy is not as strong as our neighbors in New England, we absolutely must make sure we are getting everything out of Washington that we can.

 

Vermont does not have reliable broadband anywhere in the State. This hurts businesses, school, and individuals. It prevents us from recruiting new employers. I believe broadband should be provided by the State at no additional cost to the taxpayer. Broadband is as important as schools, post offices, and interstates. Having free broadband would be a competitive advantage over other states and would help individuals and small businesses. Recently, the State has decided to allocate $550 million to completely cover the state with a spaghetti mess of fiber cables and to use that money to dig a ditch to every person’s home in Vermont (Fred Thys, “Broadband could take longer and cost more to deploy in Vermont than anticipated,” VTDigger, April 24, 2022). This is a massive waste of money. Already costs are spiraling upward and excuses blaming inflation and supply chain delays are being offered. We know the final cost will be hundreds of millions more. The current plan devotes too much money to digging ditches, uses an antiquated technology, and won’t be fully operational for five to ten years. After the wasted millions spent on ditch digging, Vermonters will still be required to pay for hook-up and monthly charges. If elected, I will make a deal with Starlink (or Kuiper) which provides faster broadband (high speed low latency) from low earth orbit satellites which sit directly over us, so reception is vastly improved. There is a debate as to whether Starlink or fiber delivers better service. What is agreed is that low earth orbit satellites are close to the speed of fiber now, will only get better, and offer the fastest internet of the future.  Remember Starlink recently gave Ukraine almost instantaneous service far superior to Vermont’s service. I would use the $550 million to pay for the installation and monthly service of broadband for all Vermonters. That way we can have free service in weeks not years and every household will have free access with 2-3 years of free service. It may be at a cheaper cost for all households than $550 million. I predict Mr. Musk will reach for this deal because he would increase his subscriber base immediately and set a precedent he can use with other states. Once in office I will work to make permanent the 3 years of free service. Frankly, if one wealthy man can create a system of satellites, I am sure our federal government can do the same.

The Green Mountain State deserves to have Green jobs. But we don’t have them. Using the broadband deal with Elon Musk as an inducement, I will personally push to have Tesla relocate some operations here to Vermont. Today with work from home becoming a national shift, we need to also recruit high paid workers whose jobs are in other states to live here and pay taxes. Who wouldn’t want to live here if they could? With free broadband we should be on our way in recruiting work from home workers. Over my career I have overseen the relocation of over 300,000 jobs. And I will keep the focus on getting Green companies to Vermont. I will use the resources of the Senate office to work with the Governor and get people and companies to make a home here. A part of this push must include a much better effort at delivering affordable housing across the State with federal subsidies which is something I will address in the coming days.

I support the giving Health and Human Services Administration and Medicare the ability to negotiate prescription drug prices directly with the providing pharmaceutical companies. The Veterans Administration and the Medicaid already have this ability. Peter Welch has never been able to achieve this simple victory because his Medicare-for-All plan has overwhelmed any commonsense reforms. Meanwhile seniors suffer with incredibly high prices for needed drugs. I will fight to reform the system and bring prices to reasonable levels.

I will fight for stricter border control to stem the tide of fentanyl and other dangerous opioids into this country. I will also seek funding for local treatment of those suffering from drug addiction and those suffering from mental health disorders.

I was very impressed recently when South Burlington High School students protested to make the point that Love Conquers Hate. This social consciousness is what makes Vermont the important state that it is. But we must take this a step further. At a national level, we have no one person who can unite us. And the situation is becoming more dire. Currently, there seem to be two justice systems in the country; politicians continue to encourage growing race and class wars. This must stop as it only is causing citizens to turn on each other. Vermont, under George Aiken, played an important historical role as a peacemaker among the States. I want to see Vermonters once again model the behavior we need across all states to be a unified force for good in the world. I love Senator Sanders. I love President Trump. What does it mean for me to say that? What does it mean if you say that? What does it mean if we all say that? Love conquering hate means we must embrace each other—a radical proposition. That means we must open ourselves to dialogue with people who don’t look like us, talk like us, or think like us. We must open the path to understanding each other at a grass roots level. No person can reunite this country. The change has to be at the grass roots level. The stakes are too high; we must continue to promote love over hate. Underlying all that I do is a desire to restore peace and have people talking and working together again.

We need our flagship university, UVM, to educate Vermonters and prepare them for higher paying jobs. But UVM exists now primarily to educate out-of-staters. 

UVM, my own alma mater, has made out-of-state money more important than Vermont. Our public ivy has become a poison ivy. Why are we subsidizing them when they do not help us? It did not used to be this way. At the beginning of the 20th century, over 95% of its classes were made up of Vermont students. By the 1980s, this proportion had fallen to 50%. Today new enrollments of Vermont students in F2021 are only 17% (See page 11/40 at https://www.uvm.edu/sites/default/files/Division-of-Finance-Administration/Publications/FY21_Fin_Rpt.pdf ). 

In fact, UVM is in violation of its own charter (View the Charter in the Vermont Statutes, Title 16, at https://legislature.vermont.gov/statutes/fullchapter/16APPENDIX/001 ). In the Charter, the full name of UVM is the “University of Vermont and State Agricultural College,” (Title 16, § 1-1., line 3). Notice the mention of “State Agricultural College,” in the name, this seems to be forgotten. The Charter states that UVM “shall be recognized and utilized as an instrumentality of the State for providing public higher education,” (Title 16, § 1-1., lines 5-6). This is the key language. By law, UVM is “utilized” in order to provide “public” higher education. This means it is to educate Vermonters-the only people to whom the system is public. UVM is currently not providing “public” education; it is providing “private” education. New enrollments from out-of-staters are at 82% and in-state enrollments are at 18%. UVM is no longer a “public” institution. If the percentages were 51% in-state and 49% out-of-state, then it could be classified as “public.” The vast majority of its students are not from Vermont, and UVM is in violation of its Charter. The State has recourse, in the event UVM fails to carry out the requirements of the Charter, through the Vermont Supreme Court which can vacate the Charter and dissolve the institution (Title 16, § 1-11.). Clearly, the State has the power and the reason to vacate the Charter today. But I will, if elected, effect a compromise which will preserve UVM and return it to its purpose.  

 

UVM no longer serves the State in which it exists rent free on arguably the best piece of land in Vermont. Since it is private it should make a payment for land rent. The days of free rent on our communal land must end if it decides to continue to stay private. Since UVM has made money its priority we should all share in those profits– which have come at the expense of our students who did not get to attend from across the State. UVM has said it is poor for decades. Nothing could be further from the truth. UVM has almost 1000 acres in Burlington and South Burlington which it carries on its books as worth $29 million. In reality, each acre is worth closer to $13 million (on each acre, 50% lot coverage, FAR of 3, $10 NNN, Cap of 5%). That means the total value of UVM is closer to $15 billion not including assets like the hospital(s), art collection, and intellectual property/patents. I am proposing UVM pay an annual payment-in-lieu-of-tax (PILOT) of less than 1%. This is not a tax; it is like a rent payment. This PILOT would start at $125 million until UVM admits 51% of in-state students at which point the PILOT would decrease. Of the $125 million PILOT, Chittenden County would receive $60 million, since UVM has paid almost nothing to Chittenden over the centuries for its services. And from the $125 million PILOT, every other of the 13 remaining counties in Vermont would receive $5 million per year. If UVM can’t educate us, it can at least pay us a payment-in-lieu-of-tax. UVM would not be allowed to raise tuition on its students with this PILOT as its tuition is already among the highest in the country. It can afford the PILOT through better management of its resources like land, hospitals, online courses, and intellectual property.

Vermont has 25 major ski resorts offering skiing and snowboarding. Sadly, the cost of lift tickets is now around $175-$200 per person per day, well beyond the reach of the average Vermonter. This is a shame as the State (and Federal Government) makes its natural resources, forests, land leases and infrastructure available to many of these out-of-state-resort operators. While the tourism generated by skiing and snowboarding has far-reaching beneficial economic effects, winter sports now threaten to exclude Vermonters. This is another example of out-of-staters using Vermont for their own benefit and reducing Vermont to servant status. To make skiing and snowboarding equitable, I will introduce something akin to an additional hospitality transfer tax upon all lift tickets sold to out-of-staters. Basically, out-of-staters will pay for Vermonters to ski or snow board for free.  For every ticket sold to an out-of-stater, the resort will credit 1/10 of the price to a free lift ticket for Vermonters at that resort. So, for instance if a resort sells 1500 lift tickets in one day, then 150 free tickets will be available the very next day for Vermont citizens, first come first served. It is estimated that there are 4.5 million skier days/ lift tickets sold per season. Assuming 75% of the tickets are for out-of-state skiers and boarders, this would produce 337,500 free lift tickets for Vermonters over the full season. Given a season of 120 days this would produce 2,812 free tickets every day for Vermonters spread across every mountain across the State. The program would pass the cost on to out-of- state skiers. This additional cost to out-of-staters, being just $6-20 per ticket at a time when tickets, meals and lodging for weekends cost the out-of-staters thousands would have little effect on out-of-state attendance. If an out-of-state person skis through an annual pass then their ski days would be assessed pro-rata until their breakeven days and would track their attendance, still generating 1/10 of a free Vermont ticket every time an out-of-state person skis. A benefit is that if Vermonters have Ikon or Epic passes they could keep those and now enjoy free days outside their season pass areas. This program would be a win-win for resorts as the cost of the free tickets are a pass through and the influx of Vermonters will boost food and beverage sales for the mountains not to mention equipment rentals and apparel sales.

Vermont suffers from an affordable housing crisis with an unmet need of 6000 new housing units by 2025. With only a very few units being built a year we need to vastly accelerate the construction of affordable housing. There has been some recent progress, but it isn’t enough. And the cost of housing is rapidly becoming vastly unaffordable. We still have over 10,000 extremely low-income households without housing. There are many ways we can do this with the appropriate federal subsidies. We can renovate abandoned property or build more new units across the state. Taking over motels was a shortcut but not a long-term solution. I have spent many years involved in affordable housing on behalf of churches and this experience can allow me to advance this effort quickly.

In 1931, the Vermont State legislature passed an “Act for Human Betterment,” which resulted in the targeted sterilizations of 253 Vermonters who were deemed feeble minded (euphemism for LGBT); French-Canadian; Native American; or disabled. The effort was led by Professor Henry Perkins of UVM. Eugenics was the physical manifestation of institutional racism. Since that time, the State legislature has wrung its hands over an apology, but more than words are needed. I will require UVM, as the principal bad actor, to fund scholarships for collateral descendants of those sterilized from a $10 million settlement pool. Reparations should not come from the public treasury but from the academic abusers. Furthermore, I will require that UVM pay for and host an annual dinner on the winter solstice, the darkest day of the year. This dinner will be named in honor of Professor Huck Gutman, who taught generations about the redeeming value of art and literature. The speaker at the dinner, compensated by UVM, will speak on the dangers of institutional racism. These annual dinners shall continue for a period of 100 years. At each dinner a free three-course meal with dessert will be available to all who come to listen. We do not need a Truth and Justice Commission to investigate what happened. We know what happened. We need to repair the wounds through reparations and prevent its reoccurrence through the dinner series. Also, the Perkins name will be immediately removed from UVM’s campus and the prominent Perkins building. As a further act of restorative justice, I will find private funders to bring back Lars Fisk’s “Bus Ball” sculpture to UVM in a permanent installation.

While we recognize that human activity can affect the world through pollution, note the global effects of leaded gasoline for example, we must also recognize good stewardship of the environment can improve the health of the earth. Our concern and desire to limit greenhouse gases must not stop at our own borders. This is a worldwide problem, and we need worldwide solutions. It does not seem right to make Vermonters suffer for greenhouse gas use when our global neighbors in China and India continue to pollute without consequence. China is the largest greenhouse emitter; in fact, it emits more greenhouse gasses then the entire developed world combined. Their announced targets of net zero emissions by 2060 are too little and too slow. We need to develop tariffs and taxes on Chinese and Indian goods which will force them to act more quickly. Greening the electric grid of China more quickly is achievable and should be our primary goal.

Full unfettered support for freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Full support for the 2nd Amendment without further modifications. Don’t the Ukrainians wish they had possessed the right to bear arms to protect themselves? We need the 2nd Amendment to protect us from individuals as well as from tyranny.

We must stand behind our police while seeking better solutions to the issue of the carceral state problem which has affected so many of our citizens.

We must continue to welcome legal immigrants, but we must stem the tide of illegal immigration which threatens our national security as well as introduces a flood of illegal drugs.