Governor Peter Shumlin spoke to Vermonters Monday morning at The Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce legislative breakfast, sharing what he calls key factors to a healthy economy.
"We've got a bright future. We will compete. We will continue to grow jobs and economic opportunities. We just have to get those things right -- that is the best economic development plan you can put together," Shumlin said.
The governor addressed numerous questions about Vermont's health care system and his hopes to see a publicly financed system, but he acknowledges the long road to a solution. "We're not going to find one single thing that's going to solve the problem. If we rely entirely on pay roll tax and the pay roll tax is too high, you leave too many people out," he said.
"Not everybody would agree with how the governor wants to re-frame health care but they agree that we have to do something different, and that's where the spirit of Vermont and Vermonters come together," said the LCRCC's Tom Torti.
But some business leaders are still worried about Vermont Health Connect. Tom Clavelle runs a construction company and says it seems the new exchange brings more problems than solutions. "For a lot of businesses, while what they have may not be perfect, it's a system that has worked as far as individual businesses are concerned. As far as the overall health care system is concerned, it may not be a system that works," Clavelle said.
Health care was not the only topic. A qualified workforce is also a concern. The Governor said the key is access to education. "The biggest challenge that we face as we go into this recovery is that we ensure that we have enough employees to do the work of the 21st century -- is having an educated workforce," he said.
Another concern -- taxes and the budget. The governor says his plan includes reducing the curve of growth and cutting spending as opposed to raising taxes. "My budget this year will make additional reductions in that one time funding so we can be on a responsible fiscal path going forward," Shumlin said.
But with a $70 million dollar budget deficit already, it wont be an easy job. Shumlin presents the details of his budget to lawmakers on Wednesday.
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