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Prescriptions Differ But Candidates Say They'll Be More Responsive To Business

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Steve Zind
/
VPR
Wednesday, Gubernatorial candidates (from left to right,) Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, former transportation secretary Sue Minter, Matt Dunne and Bruce Lisman shared their economic vision with members of Associated Industries of Vermont.

A quartet of gubernatorial candidates presented their economic visions to a manufacturing trade group meeting in Montpelier this week.

Within the limited time they were given to speak to members of Associated Industries of Vermont at the organization’s annual meeting, each of the four, two Republicans and two Democrats, offered a number of ideas tailored to their audience.

They talked about improving government, workforce development and addressing the cost of living and doing business in Vermont.   

While there was overlap in the broad policy strokes, the GOP candidates placed their emphasis on fiscal restraint while the Democrats underscored innovation.

“I’d manage the damn budget, set spending at 2 to 3 percent per year to reset our finances and no new taxes and find 2 percent efficiencies with a brilliant, motivated management team,” said Republican Bruce Lisman, a former Wall Street executive.

He also said he wants Act 46, the school district consolidation law, repealed and called for a moratorium on what he termed “industrial” wind and solar projects.

"I'd manage the damn budget, set spending at 2 to 3 percent per year to reset our finances and no new taxes and find 2 percent efficiencies with a brilliant, motivated management team." - Bruce Lisman

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, running against Lisman for the Republican nomination, said the state needs to provide a more predictable, stable political environment.

“Stability is necessary for progress,” said Scott. “For instance: the debate on the cloud tax. The tech industry begged the legislature not to do it, but they did it anyways. While the single payer conversation may have been necessary it went on far too long. Now we have the carbon tax.”

Scott also called for bolstering state tax credits and funds designed to encourage business growth in Vermont.

Democrat Matt Dunne, cited his resume including his job as Director of Americorps/Vista and his current work for Google to stress importance of innovation and making government more responsive to business. 

“Under my administration every manufacturing business in the state of Vermont would have a project manager to work on their behalf to make sure that you’re not having to navigate state government from one agency to another to make the changes that you know are necessary,” said Dunne.

He said the state should make sure its investing in educational programs that are matched to employers’ future needs. He sees a role for technology in accomplishing that goal.  

"Under my administration every manufacturing business in the state of Vermont would have a project manager to work on their behalf to make sure that you're not having to navigate state government from one agency to another to make the changes that you know are necessary." - Matt Dunne

Former transportation secretary Sue Minter, Dunne’s opponent in the Democratic primary also focused on education.

Fewer than half of Vermont’s high school graduates pursue a post-secondary education, a problem Minter says the state needs to address.  

“This is a critically important education gap and opportunity gap that the next governor must focus on, both as an economic development strategy and as a way to break the cycle of poverty that is growing in every corner of our state,” said Minter.

She also said state investment in infrastructure like roads and bridges, and downtown revitalization are important economic development tools.

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