We must level the field and make Vermont a place people can afford to live through improving access to safe affordable housing, a livable fair minimum wage, free public education from preschool to college, progressive tax reform and accessible, comprehensive life span healthcare through a single-payer system.
In addition it is important as we have seen through history to support workers in their rights to unionize and demand fair pay and labor practices, in the current climate that favors corporations and the top 1% this is even more imperative than ever.
I would support a stronger minimum wage than proposed in the 2018 legislative session which aimed to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2024. The current minimum wage of $10.50/hour is nowhere near enough for working Vermonters to meet their basic needs. We need to do better, sooner. Increasing wages for working people is a critical part of solving some of our chronic challenges such as affordable housing, safe and affordable child care, reliable transportation and relieving the stress on many low and working class families.
Solving our housing crisis takes more than building more housing. It requires a multi-pronged solution that includes increase housing supply, supporting affordable housing development into perpetuity by using models like Champlain Housing Trust, and lifting wages for working people to be able to buy houses if they so choose to create their own financial security.
Education is expensive during the pre-K and college years. We must do better to support working families find safe, affordable child care. Our economy cannot work without working parents having reliable and affordable child care. Our early educators also deserve to be paid professional wages. As a young professional, I personally experience the crushing economic burden of college debt. Vermont continues to rank near the bottom of all states in what it invests in higher education for Vermont students. Plus, we must think creatively for ways to relieve the debt for all college graduates including exploring loan forgiveness options within the power of the state (ex: loan forgiveness programs for those who go into education or public service).
We need a progressive tax system to pay for education. The current system relies too much upon property taxes and does not require taxpayers to pay their fair share. Public Assets Institute’s work through the Vermont Education Equity Project points to a fair and transparent way to fund education. I would support such an approach in the name of simplifying our system and asking all Vermonters to contribute their fair share towards one of our best assets – our public schools.
My work as a social worker, I see the daily negative outcomes of our broken health care system. The United States is woefully behind every other industrialized country when it comes to providing healthcare to its citizens. A single-payer system creates a fair and just method for providing health coverage to everyone despite ability to pay, age, or quality of one’s health. Health care is a human right.
We need to stand up against all forms of institutionalized oppression and build structures and systems to examine biases and repair the harm that has been done;
- Workplace and Community Equity: We begin working towards this by eliminating the gender wage gap, providing paid family leave, affordable childcare options and stronger protections for victims of sexual harassment and assault. We need to work towards universal accessibility across our community including in workplaces, businesses and all public institutions to allow persons with disabilities full membership in our society.
- Criminal Justice Reform: Supporting fair bail and sentencing laws, ending the practice of utilizing private and out of state prisons, implementing safeguards to rectify the disproportionately high incarceration of marginalized communities and building community supports to keep those charged with non-violent crimes out of prison.
- Revitalize our democracy: Restoring trust in our Democratic institutions beginning with a ban on corporate campaign contributions, implementing ranked-choice voting statewide, public financing of elections, and fighting to increase voter turnout and participation.
We need to protect our environment for our own safety and to further social justice in order to achieve this we need to work towards 100% renewable energy and energy independence, supporting our local organic farmers, and building infrastructure and public transport to decrease the toll on our natural resources.