YCQM: December 29, 2013 - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

YCQM: December 29, 2013

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

>>> GOOD MORNING, THANKS FOR JOINING US ON YOU CAN QUOTE ME. TODAY ON THE PROGRAM WE'RE TALKING ABOUT SPECIFICALLY THE LOOKOUT FOR 2014, WONDERING WHAT THE YEAR HOLDS FOR BUSINESSES.

>> LET'S TAKE A LOOK BACK AT THE BIGGEST BUSINESS STORIES OF THE YEAR.

>> IN THE SECOND TERM THE FUTURE BRIGHT.

>> WITH THE HOPE THAT THE DARK DAYS OF THE GREAT RECESSION WERE BEHIND US. AS MEASURED BY THE STATE REVENUES IT CONTINUED A DESCENT AND BY JUNE, TOTAL TAX COLLECTIONS COLLECTED EXCEEDED FROM PREVIOUS YEARS. BUT IT WOULD NOT BE A BREAK OUT YEAR FOR THE ECONOMY ESPECIALLY ON THE JOBS FRONT.

>> IT BE WILL BE GROWING BUT NOT AS FAST AS WE WOULD LIKE IT. THAT SLOW GROWTH IS GOING TO CONTINUE AS FAR AS WE CAN SEE FOR VERMONT.

>> IN FACT, MANY COMPANIES CUT JOBS, INCLUDING IBM AND ESSEX JUNCTION.

>> IT WAS A BAD DAY. YOU BETTER GO HOME AND TELL YOUR FAMILY.

>> WORKERS HAD TO DELIVER THAT SAME BAD NEWS THIS YEAR. FAIR POINT, DYNA POWER AND RUTLAND REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER WITH SOME OF THE COMPANIES CUTTING WORK FORCES. ANNOUNCEMENT THAT HUNDREDS OF MORE JOBS WILL BE LOST NECK YEARS IN THE NUCLEAR PLANT SHUTS DOWN.

>> THIS IS MUCH WORSE FOR THE AREA THAN THE RECENT IBM CUTBACKS.

>> BUT THERE WERE NEW JOBS AND ECONOMIC GROWTH IN 2013. GRAND OPENING OF THE LONG PLANNED WALMART BROUGHT OUT A HUGE CROWD OF SHOPPERS.

>> PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANY ALSO BROUGHT NEW JOBS WITH EXPANSION OF THE MANUFACTURING PLANT. HYPER THERM OPENED A NEW PLANT. PFIZER PLANT IS GETTING A NEW TENANT WHEN THEY MOVE IN. AND THE $500 MILLION DEVELOPMENT PROJECT IN THE NORTHEAST KINGDOM CONTINUES TO MOVE FORWARD WHICH W SPECIFIC PLANS TO UPGRADE THE AIRPORT AND VE INVITE ANALYZING NEW PORT.

>> IF YOU CAN GET CAPITAL AND GOOD IDEAS WE'VE GOT FOR NEW PORT IT WILL FLY.

>> THE BUSINESS OF BOOZE IS BOOMING.

>> SIMPLE BEERS FROM VERY SIMPLE INGREDIENTS.

>> HILL FARMSTEAD WAS RATED AS THE BEST BREWER IN THE WORLD. WATERBURY BREWERY THEY HAD TO STOP OFFERING CANS FOR SALE THERE. AND ALSO LIQUOR. THERE IS A DOZEN DISTILLERYS ATTRACTING INTERESTED FROM NEAR AND FAR.

>> SO IT MAKES VERMONT THAT WE ARE MAKING ARE REALLY GOOD.

>> BUT GROWING PAINTS INCLUDING PUSH BACK FROM NEIGHBORS THAT WORRY ABOUT WASTE FROM PRODUCTION AND TRAFFIC. AND WHISKEY PIG WHISKEY FOUND THEMSELVES IN A BATTLE.

>> EMOTIONS ARE HIGH. YOU HAVE A LUNATIC WITH A BUDGET WHO IS ABUSING THE TIME 6 EVERYBODY HERE.

>> VERMONT IS BETTER CONNECTED AT THE END OF 2013 THANKS TO NEW CELL TOWERS, BUT THE STATE CAME UP SHORT OF THE GOVERNOR'S 2011 PLEDGE TO HAVE 100 PERCENT COVERAGE. BIG CHANGE IN HEALTH CARE COVERAGE WAS THE BIGGEST NEWS OF 2013. AFFORDABLE CARE ACT CARRIES NEW BAND-AIDS THAT HAVE INCREASED INSURANCE COSTS AND THE STATE'S SMALLEST BUSINESSES ARE REQUIRED TO PURCHASE PLANS THROUGH HEALTH CONNECT THE NEW ONLINE EXCHANGE. ROLLOUT HAS BEEN HAMPERED BY COMPUTER GLITCHES AND CUSTOMER SERVICE COMPLAINTS.

>> I CAN'T TELL YOU HOW DEEPLY GRATEFUL I AM FOR THAT THEIR PATIENCE AND WE WILL GET THIS RIGHT.

>> THE YEAR COMES TO CLOSE AMID THE HOLIDAY SEASON. 2013 SAW WHAT MIGHT BE THE END OF THE BLACK FRIDAY. MOST MAJOR RETAILERS OPENING INSTEAD ON THANKSGIVING.

>> I'M NOT A BIG BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPER AND THEY ARE OPEN ON THANKSGIVING DAY AND I'M NOT WORKING I WOULD LIKE TO STOP IN.

>> WHAT A YEAR IT WAS. AND PRESIDENT OF THE VERMONT BUSINESS. THANKS SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

>> LISA, LET'S START WITH WHAT YOU FEAR EVERY QUARTER THE BUSINESS CONDITIONS SURVEY. WHAT INFORMATION ARE YOU LOOKING FOR FROM BUSINESS OWNERS?

>> SURE. THIS IS A JOINT PROJECT THAT WE DO WITH ECONOMIC AND POLICY RESOURCES. IT'S THE SECOND GENERATION OF A CEO OUTLOOK SURVEY WE HAVE BEEN RUNNING SINCE 2004. EARLIER IN JULY OF THIS YEAR WE LAUNCHED THE INAUGURAL SURVEY. WHAT WE ARE DOING WITH A NEW ECONOMIC METRIC, WE ARE MAKING BUSINESS CONDITIONS IN VERMONT WITH A FINER TOOL. THEY ARE LOOKING AT A FORWARD LOOKING PERSPECTIVE WHERE BUSINESS THINKS THAT IT IS GOING. THE SENTIMENT FOR THAT AND HOW BUSINESS CONDITIONS OVER THE NEXT THREE MONTHS.

>> WHAT DID YOU FIND?

>> THIS TIME WARNED IN THE SECOND CYCLE OF THIS, WE HAVE THAT OVERALL THE COMPOSITE INDEX SHOWS A SLIGHT DOWNWARD SLIDE IN TERMS OF OVERALL SENTIMENT. IT HASN'T STEPPED BACK AND TELL YOU WHAT IS PART OF THAT COMPOSITE INDEX. EIGHT-QUESTION SURVEY THAT ASKS ABOUT BUSINESS CONDITIONS AND THEN ASKS ABOUT DEMAND FOR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES. THEN IT ASKS ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE THINK THEIR EMPLOYMENT LEVELS WILL BE GOING FORWARD AND THEIR CAPITAL EXPENDITURES WHAT WE SEE IS THAT OVERALL, BUSINESSES ARE SAYING FOR DEMAND FOR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES AND CAPITAL EXPENDITURES ARE TRENDING UPWARD. WHERE WE'RE SEEING THE TREND IS ON EMPLOYMENT LEVELS ESPECIALLY WITH A CERTAIN LEVEL OF UNCERTAINTY RIGHT NOW FISCAL POLICIES WITH THE STATE AND NATIONAL LEVEL WITH REGARD TO WHAT OUR HEALTH CARE WILL LOOK LIKE MATTERS MAKING PEOPLE A LITTLE MORE RELUCTANT TO HIRE. SO WE ARE SEEING MORE PEOPLE MAINTAINING THEIR CURRENT LEVELS GOING FORWARD.

>> ARGUABLY, THAT IS MOST IMPORTANT NUMBER IF WE ARE TALKING ABOUT CAPITAL EXPENSES, PEOPLE HAVE HAD THE CAPITAL FOR YEARS AND QUESTION OF THE HIRING. YOU ARE SAYING THE OUTLOOK SEEMS UNCERTAIN OR LOOKING DOWNWARD AS FAR AS JOBS?

>> THAT IS RIGHT. SO WHEN WE ASK BUSINESSES LOOKING FOR AVAILABILITY AND QUALIFICATIONS OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO ARE STILL LOOKING FOR JOBS IS NOT SERVING AS BUSINESS AS WELL RIGHT NOW. THERE WAS A CONCERN THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH PEOPLE TO FILL THE JOBS THEY HAVE AVAILABLE. AGAIN, WHEN AN EMPLOYER DECIDES TO HIRE AND GROW THEIR LABOR FORCE, IT IS A SERIOUS DECISION BECAUSE THEY DON'T WANT TO HAVE LAY THAT PERSON OFF TWO TO SIX MONTHS LATER.

>> SO MISMATCH OF SKILL SET TO THE JOBS, IS IT STILL A REALITY?

>> IT'S STILL A REALITY AND CONCERN.

>> WHAT IS MISSING?

>> OF COURSE, IT DEPENDS. IT DEPENDS ON THE INDUSTRY. THIS MIDDLE SCALE LEVEL WHERE THERE IS TRAINING OR JOB PREPARATION, THAT IS LACKING. WHAT I ALSO FIND OUR NUMBERS TALK ABOUT OF A SENIOR MANAGEMENT LEVEL IT'S VERY HARD FOR THEM TO FILL THOSE POSITIONS SO THEY LOOK OUTSIDE THE STATE TO TRY AND BRING THEM HERE. THEN WHAT THEY ENCOUNTER WITH THOSE PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYEES IS COST OF HOUSING IS VERY DIFFERENT FOR THEM.

>> WHAT IS THE SCOPE OF THE SURVEY? HOW MANY BUSINESSES?

>> THIS IS A SURVEY OF 100 CEOs WITHIN VERMONT. WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE ULTIMATE DECISION-MAKER IN THE BUSINESS. WE ARE AN ORGANIZATION THAT IS DIVERSE ACROSS ALL INDUSTRY SECTORS AND ACROSS THE STATE. WE HAD 74% RESPONSE RATE IN THIS CYCLE. THREE-QUARTERS OF OUR MEMBERSHIP RESPONDING TO THE SURVEY.

>> WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT THE DIFFERENT SECTORS, ARE THERE ANY SECTORS THAT ARE DOING BETTER THAN OTHERS?

>> MOST OPTIMISTIC SECTOR WAS THE MANUFACTURING SECTOR WHICH IS WONDERFUL. THAT IS A CHANGE FROM THE PREVIOUS QUARTER. SO WHEN WE LOOK AT THE VERMONT LANDSCAPE AND THINK ABOUT WHAT BUSINESSES THAT WE TALKED ABOUT, FOOD INDUSTRY AND THOSE ARE VERY GROWING INDUSTRIES RIGHT NOW. MANUFACTURING IS DOING WITH V WELL. ON FLIP SIDE MOST PESSIMISTIC IS THE UTILITY SECTOR. IN TERMS OF DEMAND, CAPITAL EXPENDITURES LIKELY TO HIRE NEW EMPLOYEES -- THIS IS WHERE WE'RE SEEING THE MOST PESSIMISTIC OUTLOOK.

>> NOW IN TERMS WHAT HAPPENED IN 2013, HOW DID IT COMPARE FOR PREVIOUS YEARS FOR OUR BUSINESS COMMUNITY?

>> AS A WHOLE, IT HAS DONE WELL. WE HAVE BEEN SEEING SOME, AGAIN, PULLING AWAY FROM THE GREAT RECESSION, STILL A SLOW RECOVERY, AND THAT MEANS SUSCEPTIBLE TO SOME VOLATILITY IN THE MARKET. THERE WERE SOME CONCERNS WITH PREDICABILITY FOR BUSINESSES BUT THEY SEEM TO BE DOING BETTER WHEN WE COMPARE OURSELVES TO THE BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE. THAT IS AGAIN NATIONAL BASIS, WHAT WE FIND IS VERMONT TENDENCY TO BE STRONGER IN TERMS OF DEMAND FOR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES AND CAPITAL OUTLAY. OUR ISSUES ARE DIFFERENT FROM THOSE BUSINESSES AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL. WE WERE NOT AFFECTED SO MUCH AS WITH SEQUESTRATION AS THE NATIONAL COMPANIES. NEVERTHELESS THEY PERFORM IN AN INTEGRATED MARKETPLACE.

>> AND ECONOMIST OUTREACH SAYS VERMONTERS INCOME TAXES ARE INCREASING AND THEY ARE MAKING MORE. SALES TAXES HAVE REMAINED FLAT. DOES THAT CONCERN THAT PEOPLE ARE MAKING MORE MONEY BUT NOT SPENDING IT?

>> THAT IS RIGHT. WE SAW THAT IN THAT REFERENCE. IF WE LOOK AT OUR SURVEYS HERE, IT SEEMS THAT DEMAND IS STILL UP. FOR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES ACROSS THE SPECTRUM OF INDUSTRIES IT SEEMS TO BE FORWARD LOOKING AND GOING IN A POSITIVE DIRECTION.

>> YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT EVERY INDUSTRY AS A WHOLE?

>> RIGHT. PROFESSIONAL SERVICES, FOR EXAMPLE, THEY ARE IN A GROWTH MODE. THEY SEEM TO BE HIRING AS IS CONSTRUCTION AND RETAIL. THAT IS AN AREA WE'LL SEE MORE POSITIVE OUTCOMES.

>> YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT CONSTRUCTION, I THINK OF THE EE-5 GOING ON. HOW IS THIS GOING TO CHANGE THE BUSINESS LANDSCAPE UP THERE?

>> IT CERTAINLY HAS A LOT OF ACTIVITY THAT POINTS ALL IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION IN TERMS OF NEAR TERM EMPLOYMENT GROWTH FOR PEOPLE THAT HAPPEN TO CREATE THIS WONDERFUL DESTINATION. WHEN THE RESTAURANTS AND HOTELS AND AGAIN SECONDARY BUSINESSES GET ONLINE, THAT HAS GREAT POTENTIAL FOR THE REGION.

>> SOMETHING ELSE THAT HAPPENED WAS ACQUIRED BY A PUBLIC COMPANY. VERY BIG NEWS. TALK ABOUT WHAT THAT DOES TO THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY. IS IT GOOD THAT WE'RE BOUGHT OUT BY A COMPANY BUT IT IS LEAVING. IS IT POSSIBLE OR IS IT NEGATIVE?

>> I THINK THAT ITS POSITIVE ONE RIGHT NOW. IT REFLECTS ON THE ENTREPRENEUR CLIMATE IN THE STATE OF VERMONT WHERE WE DO A GREAT JOB TO HELP BUSINESSES GET STARTED AND HELP THEM GROW TO A CERTAIN SIZE. IT'S OBVIOUSLY FOR FOUNDERS AND EMPLOYEES THERE, AS WELL. IT APPEARS THAT NOBODY IS GOING THERE, THE BRAIN TRUST IS SPENDING HERE. GOING FORWARD THAT SHOULD GIVE US A MEASURE OF SECURITY.

>> WE'RE GOING TO PAUSE REAL QUICK. WHEN WE COME BACK, WE'LL ASK YOU ABOUT 2014 AND ALSO HEALTH CARE CHANGES AND HOW THAT POLICY IS GOING TO

>>> WELCOME BACK. THANKS FOR BEING HERE.

>> YOU MENTIONED HEALTHCARE EARLY ON AND SOME OF THE EMPLOYMENT CHALLENGES THAT THEY ARE LOOKING AT. WE HAVE THE FIRST PIECE OF THIS NEW SYSTEM. WHAT ARE PEOPLE SAYING?

>> I THINK ITS FAIR STATEMENT TO SAY THERE IS A LOT OF CONCERN ABOUT THE ROLLOUT OF OUR HEALTHCARE DELIVERY SYSTEM AND THE ENG CHANGE FOR OBVIOUS REASONS WITH SOME OF THE GLITCHES THAT HAPPENED EARLY ON. IT'S A VERY COMPLICATED REFORM THAT WE'RE UNDERGOING. THERE IS A LOT OF BUY IN ON THE PART OF THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY BECAUSE WE WANTED TO HAVE HEALTH CARE COSTS UNDER CONTROL. AT THE SAME TIME THERE IS A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF UNCERTAINTY BECAUSE THE FINANCING OPTIONS HAVE YET TO BE PRESENTED. WE KNOW THAT GENERAL KNOWLEDGE WHAT THE AVAILABLE REVENUE IS AND WE KNOW $1.6 BILLION AND $2.2 BILLION THAT NEEDS TO BE FUNDED WITH THE NEW PUBLIC REVENUE SOURCES. THAT IS A BIG CHUNK OF MONEY THAT BUSINESSES PAY THROUGH THEIR OWN POCKET RIGHT NOW. THAT IS A CONCERN. THIS IS OBVIOUSLY A VERY STRESSFUL TRANSITION FOR THE HEALTHCARE INDUSTRIES THEMSELVES. THEY HAVE BEEN WORKING VERY HARD TO GET COSTS UNDER CONTROL TO CHANGE THE WAY THAT HEALTH SYSTEMS INTERACT WITH PHYSICIANS AND HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS. THAT WHOLE PAYMENT REFORM IS ANOTHER MAJOR ISSUE THAT NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED AND FINALIZED AS WE GO INTO THIS BRAVE NEW WORLD. LOTS OF MAJOR CHANGES GOING ON THAT ARE VERY COMPLEX. WE ARE ALL WATCHING VERY CAREFULLY.

>> WITH THIS SURVEY, YOU TALKED ABOUT THIS. WHEN IT COMES TO HEALTHCARE COVERAGE AND WHETHER OR NOT COMPANIES ARE GOING TO OFFER IT OR HAVE EMPLOYEES GO INTO AN EXCHANGE. WITH THAT SOME PEOPLE HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT NOT GETTING HEALTHCARE COVERAGE AND JUST PAY THE NOMINAL FEE OF $95. IS IS THAT A REALITY?

>> I CAN ONLY REALLY SPEAK FROM THE EXPERIENCES OF MY MEMBER COMPANIES. THEY TEND TO BE AMONG THE LARGER BUSINESSES THAT AREN'T NECESSARILY IN THE FIRST WAVE OF REFORM WITH THE EXCHANGE. AMONG OUR MEMBERSHIP THEY HAVE MADE A STRONG COMMITMENT TO PROVIDE HEALTHCARE COVERAGE BENEFITS FOR THEIR EMPLOYEES. I KNOW THAT SOME SMALLER FIRMS ARE THINKING THEY CAN FIND SOME ECONOMIC ADVANTAGE BY NOT PROVIDING THE INSURANCE AND THEN HAVING THEIR EMPLOYEES GO UNDER THAT. I THINK EVERY BUSINESS TENDS TO LOOK AT THIS ACCORDING TO THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH THEIR BOTTOM LINE AND WITH THEIR WORK FORCE.

>> THE LARGER COMPANIES ARE WATCHING WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH THE SMALLER ONES. WHAT ARE THE CEOs SAYING?

>> GOING BACK TO OUR SURVEYS IS FOR THEM TO PROVIDE US WITH ANY OF THEIR THOUGHTS ON TOPIC MINDED ISSUES. AMONG THOSE STRONGEST CONCERNS WITH REGARD TO HEALTHCARE COSTS, WITH REGARD TO THE RESMTS THAT ARE GOING ON. I KEEP GOING BACK TO THIS ISSUE OF PREDICABILITY THAT BUSINESS NEEDS IN ORDER TO MAKE SOUND INVESTMENTS GOING FORWARD.

>> AS YOU SAID BUSINESSES LIKE STABILITY AND THIS TIME AROUND IT DOESN'T SEEM LIKE THEY ARE VERY HAPPY. THEY ARE NOT GETTING THAT.

>> AGAIN, SOME OF THESE MAJOR QUESTIONS ARE HOLDING THEM BACK. THEY CAN'T GET THE WORK FORCE THEY NEED. THEY AREN'T SURE ABOUT WHAT SOME OF THE FISCAL CHANGES MIGHT BE EITHER ON THE STATE LEVEL OR AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL. AGAIN, THE WHOLE HEALTHCARE AREA IS JUST A MAJOR QUESTION MARK.

>> IN ANSWERING THAT QUESTION ABOUT HEALTHCARE IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FOR BUSINESSES IN 2014 OR WILL IT BE SOMETHING ELSE?

>> I THINK IT'S THE HEADLINE FOR MOST OF BUSINESSES. THIS IS MOVING FROM A PRIVATE SECTOR ACTIVITY TO A PUBLIC SECTOR ACTIVITY. THAT HAS A LOT OF CONSEQUENCES GOING FORWARD.

>> AND MAKE OR BREAKPOINT FOR SOME BUSINESSES?

>> I THINK IT IS PERHAPS NOT A MAKE OR BREAK ISSUE FOR BUSINESSES. THEY AREN'T GOING TO FAIL BECAUSE OF THIS. BUT WE ARE GOING INTO AN AREA WHERE THE HEALTHCARE FINANCING IS OUT OF THE CONTROL OF THE BUSINESS OWNER, THIS NEW REFORM IS MOVING US TOWARD THAT DIRECTION, WHICH IS VERY GOOD NEWS FOR A NUMBER OF BUSINESSES WHO WHO ARE SAYING, I DON'T WANT TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS ANYMORE.

>> GOING THROUGH THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION, WHAT POLICY ISSUES IS VERMONT BUSINESSES LOOKING AT?

>> WE HAVE A FEW OF THEM, BUT THE TOP POLICY PRIORITY FOR THE ROUNDTABLE IS AND HAS BEEN EDUCATION REFORM STARTING WITH PRE-K AND GOING UP TO HIGHER EDUCATION. THE CHIEF CONCERN WE HAVE IS, WE IF WE WANT ECONOMIC PROSPERITY FOR EVERYONE, WE NEED PEOPLE TO BE WELL PREPARED TO EITHER ENTER COLLEGE OR ENTER THE WORK FORCE. CURRENTLY WE HAVE CHILDREN COMING INTO KINDERGARTEN WHO ARE ONLY 50% ARE READY TO LEARN. WE ARE STARTING WITH CHILDREN WHO AREN'T READY YET FOR FORMAL SCHOOLING. WE HAVE VERY HIGH HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION RATE NEVERTHELESS ONLY HALF OF THAT PERCENTAGE, FROM 90% GRADUATION RATE TO 45% GOING ON TO COLLEGE OR OTHER TRAINING. WE HAVE A BIG SCHISM IN.

>> WHY DO YOU THIS THINK NOTHING HAS CHANGED?

>> THAT IS REALLY COMPLICATED. WE HAVE MANY OPINIONS ON THAT. I THINK VERMONT EDUCATION DELIVERY SYSTEM IS HUNDREDS OF YEARS OLD. WE HAVE ALWAYS PUT GREAT STOCK IN OUR SMALL LOCAL SCHOOLS AND LOCAL CONTROL WHICH IS AN OFTEN USED WORD FOR THAT. HOWEVER, ESPECIALLY IN RURAL AREAS OF THE STATED CHILDREN ARE NOT GETTING THE KIND OF EDUCATION THAT IS GOING TO PREPARE THEM. THEY DON'T HAVE ACCESS TO THE TECHNOLOGY THAT CAN LINK THEM TO WHOLE WORLD OF MANY OR THEY ARE FINDING THAT BODY OF TEACHING IS GOING TO SOME.

>> I THINK SO YOU ARE SUGGESTION SUGGESTING CONSOLIDATION?

>> IF WE CONSIDER THE FACT WE HAVE 85,000 STUDENTS AND 6400 SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS AND COUPLE HUNDRED SCHOOL DISTRICTS, ONE COULD ARGUE THAT YOU HAVE OVERBUILT OUR GOVERNMENT STRUCTURE FOR THESE STUDENTS. IT'S VERY EXPENSIVE AND SO PART OF THE QUESTION THAT THE ROUNDTABLE IS ASKING, HOW DO WE TAKE THAT $1.4 BILLION THAT WE SPEND ON OUR K-12 EDUCATION, HOW DO WE SPEND IT DIFFERENTLY SO WE GET BETTER OUTCOMES FOR THE STUDENTS. RIGHT NOW, EVEN THOUGH THE STANDARDIZED TEST SCORES ARE BETTER THAN THE U.S. AVERAGE, THREE TO FOUR STANDARDIZED TESTS, OUR STUDENTS THE MAJORITY OF STUDENTS ARE NOT PROFICIENT IN MATH AND READING TEST SCORING. THAT IS NOT OKAY. IT'S OKAY TO BE SECOND BEHIND MASSACHUSETTS BUT WE REALLY DON'T COMPARE.

>> WHAT IS THE NUMBER ONE CHANGE? WHERE WOULD THE RESOURCES BE PUT?

>> WE HAVE ARGUED LONG AND HARD WE SHOULD BE SPENDING MORE ON PRE-K EDUCATION. SO PREPARATION FOR OUR CHILDREN TWO THROUGH FOUR YEARS OLD. IF YOU LOOK AT THE WHOLE SPECTRUM OF WHERE THE MONEY FALLS, IT LOOKS LIKE FLAT ON BOTH ENDS AND THEN IN THE MIDDLE K THROUGH 12 IS WHERE ALL THE MONEY GOES, $17,000 PER PUPIL. WE THINK WE SHOULD FIGURE OUT A BETTER WAY TO MAKE SURE THEY ARE READY TO LEARN WHEN THEY START AND HELP THEM TO BECOME REALLY PROFICIENT BY THE TIME THOUGH IN THIRD GREAT. IF THEY CAN'T READ BY THIRD GRADE THEY WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO CATCH UP.

>> AND FOR 2014, IF YOU LOOKED IN A CRYSTAL BALL, WHAT ARE THE SUCCESS STORIES AND FAILURES?

>> I WOULD PROJECT THAT 2014 IS GOING TO LOOK VERY MUCH LIKE 2013 IN THAT OUR CONTINUED GROWTH IS GOING TO BE VERY SLOW. IT'S GOING TO BE VERY STEADY. VERY MUCH SUSCEPTIBLE TO DISRUPTIONS. AGAIN, NOT VERY STRONG CONFIDENCE AND WE'RE NOT GOING TO BE SEEING A HUGE J-CURVE OF ECONOMIC GROWTH BUT MOVING IN A POSITIVE WAY.

>> AND LARGER THING VERMONT PEOPLE SHOULD TAKE AWAY FROM THE SURVEY, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

>> I GUESS IT WOULD BE ABOUT THE POINT BUSINESS NEEDING A PREDICTABLE CLIMATE TO MAKE BUSINESS DECISIONS. I REFERRED TO OUR INABILITY TO GROW OUR WORK FORCE BECAUSE OF LACK OF PEOPLE. ALSO A DECISION THAT OWNERS ARE RELUCTANT TO MAKE BECAUSE THEY ARE UNCERTAIN ABOUT WHAT ADDITIONAL COSTS WILL BE INCURRED WHETHER IT BE HEALTH CARE OR OTHER CHANGES.

>> AND SO THERE IS NO CHANGE HAPPENING AND STATUS QUO IS GOING TO BE HAPPENING. THAT IS A CONCERN, AS WELL?

>> I THINK STABILITY IS IMPORTANT FOR BUSINESSES TO GET THEIR FEED BENEATH THEM AND SEE INCREASES IN THEIR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES EVERY TIME. EVENTUALLY THEN THEY WILL HIRE. WE'RE IN A PHASE RIGHT NOW.

>> THANKS SO MUCH FOR JOINING US. IT WAS FUN TODAY.

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