Q: Should the work of a State Government be performed by a State Employee?
A: Yes, our hardworking state employees should carry out the critical role of state government. The state must lead by example by being a responsible employer that provides fair wages, benefits, and a safe and positive working environment. For Vermonters to receive the services they deserve and expect we must maintain our workforce. In the Lieutenant Governor’s office I will lead by example and advocate that the Legislature and Governor fulfill their obligations to state employees as I did during the last contract negotiation.
Q: As an elected official, how would you approve the overall safety of state employees?
A: As Vermont’s next Lieutenant Governor I will improve safety for state employees by advocating for improved safety measures and helping to shepherd necessary legislation through the Senate and House of Representatives. Through my relationships in the legislature and by my track record of effective leadership in the house I believe I can be a voice of influence on behalf of state employees with my legislative colleagues.
Q: What is your plan to make the health care system more fair and equitable for working Vermonters?
A: During the 2016 legislative session I publically supported and passed funding for a study commission on expanding Dr. Dynasaur to Vermonters under the age of 26. This expansion would make health care more affordable for working families in Vermont. As Lieutenant Governor I look forward to reviewing the study commission’s recommendations and continuing to be an advocate for expanding Dr. Dynasaur.
Q: Will you support collective bargaining and vote against “Right to Work” legislation in any form?
A: I will support collective bargaining as I did this past session when I made a commitment as Speaker to fully fund the pay act. Three years ago I advocated for the fair share bill because I believe that if you benefit from collective bargaining you should pay your fair share for that representation. I supported collective bargaining for childcare workers and home health care workers and was proud to pass both bills. We must fulfill our obligations and I will advocate for collective bargaining as Lieutenant Governor. I believe right to work legislation does not belong in Vermont and will work to ensure that right to work movements do not gain momentum in our state.
Q: What do you see as the role of State employees and how would you support them in their role?
A: I see the role of state employees as providing quality services to Vermonters and especially to Vermont’s most vulnerable populations. I believe we have a workforce that is dedicated to Vermont, proud of the work they do, and willing to be partners in reforming state government to make it more efficient and accessible. I will support state employees by continuing to be an advocate for collective bargaining, and by continuing to listen to their concerns and suggestions on how to improve state government.
Q: What mechanisms would you put in place to avoid budget shortfalls?
A: I would advocate and help guide a conversation on tax reform. Our current method of taxation relies too heavily on declining revenue sources. We need to reevaluate our tax laws, focus on potentially expanding taxes to services, and examine our long list of exemptions to make sure state government has the resources it needs to provide critical services to Vermonters.
Q: What approach would you take to make higher education more affordable for Vermonters?
A: Our state college system is crucial to making higher education more affordable. The state colleges do an excellent job recruiting lower and middle income Vermont students and as the Lieutenant Governor I would want to be a partner with the colleges. I would continue to encourage dual enrollment for Vermont high school students to earn college credit while in high school. I would advocate for increased funding to the state colleges to provide additional financial aid to capable students who want to go to college, but may not have the financial resources to attend.
Q: What would you do to ensure the viability of the state college system?
A: I would be a strong voice of support for our state colleges. As a University of Vermont grad I know how important the state college system is to Vermonters. I was proud to support a significant increase in funding to the Vermont State College system this year.
Last year I supported a capital investment for advanced manufacturing equipment at Vermont Technical College and I am happy to see that this investment is spurring collaboration between VTC, private employers and local schools. I will continue to support legislation like this as the Lieutenant Governor.
Q: Do you support a livable wage for Vermonters? If so, what do you think that amount should be?
A: Yes, I support a livable wage. Three years ago I was proud when the house voted to increase the minimum wage. This legislation made and continues to make a real difference in working Vermonter’s lives but we need to do more. I will push for increasing the minimum wage to $15.
Q: Briefly state why the VSEA should endorse you and describe the type of assistance that you would be seeking from a VSEA endorsement.
A: I have been a long time advocate for labor issues, from being a leader on giving home health care and child care workers the right to collectively bargain, raising the minimum wage, passing fair share, increasing the prevailing wage, and passing paid sick leave. This session I made a public commitment to fully funding the pay act, and encouraged the house to include increases for state employees in the budget. In the past 8 years we have accomplished significant labor reforms that impact workers lives every day.
I am running for Lieutenant Governor because I believe I can make a difference in Vermont’s second highest office. I bring experience working with legislators and believe I can be steady hand in an unprecedented year of turnover in leadership. I would be thrilled and honored to receive a public endorsement from the VSEA membership and would appreciate any assistance the organization can provide.
Thank you for your consideration, should you have additional questions please contact Erika with my campaign at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (802) 399-‐6285.