Thank you to the almost 200 Deerfield Valley respondents who took my 2018 Legislative Session priorities survey.
The survey required respondents to give their name and town of residence. All other questions were optional.
35% of those who responded were under the age of 50. 21% were over the age of 65.
1.5% of respondents were unemployed, 2% were disabled and 22.5% were retired. 88% reported that they owned their home.
No specific legislative proposals were presented for ranking. The actual words that end up being voted on, what the words allow, prohibit or encourage, those words matter and are very often not the same words that were originally proposed. And so with the ranking part of the survey I am not taking away support or opposition to specific legislation, but a sense of our districts sense of what the important issues to focus on will be. Issues areas were ranked according to how much time the respondent thought the Vermont Legislature should spend on them in the January – May 2018 Session with 1 being the most time. Survey takers were not required to rank all 14 selections. Healthcare, property taxes, drug abuse and internet/cell access topped the list. Here are the results of respondents overall ranking of issues they want to see the 2018 Vermont Legislature spend time on.
In addition to asking for this prioritization ranking, three more specific questions were asked about specific legislation we could see this year. The first was with regard to support for a .05% increase in the Vermont Universal Service Fee paid on telephone bills to increase public dollars available to build last mile internet service. A similar bill passed the House in 2015 but was defeated in the Senate. 70% of those surveyed indicated they would be willing to pay this fee. Multiple comments came from those opposed to new taxes and those skeptical the funds would actually reach those unserved. “…as long as it actually funds last mile projects and not more administration…”.
The second specific question was regarding a Vermont only ban on bump stocks. 70% of those surveyed said they would support a Vermont only ban on bump stocks. There is little to no gray area for voters with gun legislation. Some commenters promised me they would never vote for me again if I vote for this legislation if it is proposed. Other commenters promised me they would never vote for me again if I do not vote for this legislation if it is proposed.
The last specific question was regarding the use of Education Fund dollars to pay for increased child care or increased post secondary or work force training. 65% of those that responded were unwilling to have property taxes pay for increased childcare or post secondary. 25% were willing to pay increased education property taxes to pay for increased post secondary/workforce training programs. Many commenters indicated a willingness to consider using education property tax dollars for child care or post secondary expenses if the education funding formula is fixed.
The governor’s administration has released a high level budget priorities presentation which also provides two opportunities to weigh in with your thoughts on what budget the governor should propose as a budget for FY ’19. I hope you will consider providing a few thoughts to the governor on what you’d like to see in the next budget. Vermont is a small state and your voice really does get heard. A reminder that the budget process requires the governor to propose and then the legislature provide feedback and funding. The governor can either agree, or veto as we saw last year.
- Tuesday November 28th from 6:30-8 at the Dover Town Hall
- Thursday November 30th from 6:30-8 at the Wardsboro Town Hall
I hope that you all had a peaceful Thanksgiving with family and friends.