YCQM: February 23, 2014 - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

YCQM: February 23, 2014

Posted: Updated:
BURLINGTON, Vt. -

>>> GOOD MORNING.

>> I'M KYLE MIDURA. WE ARE TALK TO THE VERMONT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE THAT IS BETSY BETSY BISHOP.

>> WE'RE COVERING FOR SHOPPING AND BIG AND LAYOFFS MAY BE COMING TO IBM. BETSY, WE FIRST WANT TO TALK ABOUT HEALTHCARE. SOME LAWMAKERS ARE CALLING FOR REQUIREMENTS IN A DELAY FOR SMALL BUSINESSES TO SIGN UP. DO YOU WANT IT TO?

>> I THINK WE HAVE TO LOOK AT IT. WE HAVE A PENDING DEADLINE MARCH 31 THAT OUR SMALL BUSINESSES HAVE TO SEE THAT EXTENSION. WE ARE PREDICTING THAT MOST OF THOSE FOLKS WILL GET ON TO A HEALTH CARE SYSTEM THAT WORKS. THE PROBLEM THAT WE ARE LOOKING AT WHEN WE LOOK AHEAD OF THAT OCTOBER 1st AROUND THE QUARTER WHEN WE START ENROLLMENT FOR THE FOLLOWING YEAR. WE HAVE SEEN SOME PROBLEMS WITH THE SYSTEM. WE HAVEN'T SEEN THOSE COLLECTED YET. IN SIX MONTHS WE WILL BE STARTING THIS ALL OVER AGAIN. WHILE THE LEGISLATURE IS IN SESSION WE DO BELIEVE IT WOULD BE GREAT TO ADDRESS THAT AND PROVIDE CERTAINTY FOR SMALL BUSINESSES SO THAT WE CAN MAKE SURE THAT WE DON'T RUN INTO THIS AGAIN. IF DIRECT ENROLLMENT WORKS, GETTING INTO THE VERMONT PROGRAM BEING ABLE TO ACCESS THE FEDERAL SUBSIDIES AND THEY HAVE A SYSTEM THAT WORKS, WE SUGGEST CONTINUING WITH THAT SYSTEM.

>>> TO BE CLEAR RIGHT NOW WE HAVE A PATCH OF DIRECT ENROLLMENT FOR JANUARY 1st COVERAGE OF NEXT YEAR, BUSINESSES ARE EXPECTED AT THIS POINT TO USE THE EXCHANGE. ARE YOU SUGGESTING THE CONTINUED DIRECT ENROLLMENT IF NEED BE?

>> IF NEED BE, YES. IT WORKS. WE HAVE A SYSTEM OF ENROLLMENT A PAYMENT OF BILLING AND COLLECTIONS THAT IS WORKING. YES, IT IS THROUGH THE INSURERS AND WE CAN'T SEEM TO GET IT WORK THROUGH VERMONT CONNECT. THEY ARE STILL GETTING THE VERMONT DIRECT INSURANCE. WHAT WE WOULD LIKE TO SEE SOME CERTAINTY THAT WOULD CONTINUE INSTEAD OF REPEATING THE CYCLE WE HAVE JUST BEEN THROUGH. IN OCTOBER, IT DOESN'T WORK. SO LET'S ADDRESS THAT AND ALLOW THAT DIRECT ENROLLMENT OCCUR.

>> BLUE MONITOR CEO SAYS THE SMALL BUSINESS COMPONENT IS IS NOT READY. HE DOESN'T KNOW WHEN IT WILL BE. WHAT AFFECT OF LIMBO HAVING ON VERMONT BUSINESSES?

>> IT'S HAVING QUITE AN IMPACT. WE ARE THE STATE'S LARGEST NAVIGATOR. WE HAVE 12 PARTNERS NAVIGATING SMALL BUSINESSES INTO THE HEALTH CONNECT. WE ARE SEEING FIRSTHAND IN OUR OFFICES. EVER SINCE WE GOT NOTICE OF THE FIRST DELAY AND THEN WE COULD DO DIRECT ENROLLMENT THERE HAS BEEN A SIGH OF RELIEF FOR SMALL BUSINESSES. WHAT THEY REALLY WANT IS JUST TO GET INSURANCE FOR THEMSELVES AND EMPLOYEES. THEY DON'T WANT TO SPEND FOUR MONTHS WORKING ON A WEBSITE TOO TRY TO GET THAT TYPE OF COVERAGE. IT GOES MUCH SMOOTHER THAN THAT. I THINK WE ARE LOOKING AT APRIL 1st DEADLINE BUT THE VERMONT LEGISLATURE IS LOOKING AHEAD KNOWING THAT THEY ARE ONLY IN SESSION FOR A COUPLE MONTHS. LET'S ADDRESS THAT AND HAVE CONTINGENCY LANGUAGE AVAILABLE TO US SO WE DON'T HAVE TO BE THE SAME SITUATION. IN THE MEANTIME, IF THE WEBSITE STARTS WORKING AND SMALL BUSINESSES CAN SIGN UP, FABULOUS. WE'LL ESCORT THEM INTO THAT PARTICULAR SYSTEM.

>> THERE ARE SOME BENEFITS OR PROMISED BENEFITS THAT DIRECT ENROLLMENT THAT DOESN'T PROVIDE. NUMBER ONE I HAVE HEARD FROM EMPLOYEES AS WELL AS EMPLOYERS, WE CAN'T TAKE ADVANTAGE OF EVERY PLAN THAT BLUE CROSS HAS PROMISED TO AVAILABLE. THE ADMINISTRATION PART OF THAT WOULD MADE DO-ABLE WAS COMPLETELY DEPENDENT ON THE WEBSITE WORKING. ARE YOU HEARING ABOUT THAT OR FOLKS SO HAPPY TO RECEIVE THE DIRECT ENROLLMENT OPTION THEY ARE NOT AS FOCUSED ON IT.

>> I THINK THE RESTRICTION HAS BEEN AN ISSUE. A LOT OF AM PEOPLE THAT ARE STILL STRUGGLING WITH THIS ARE PEOPLE THAT MADE THE DECISION TO GO INTO VERMONT HEALTH CONNECT. THEY SAT WITH THEIR EMPLOYERS AND THEY SIDE THE RIGHT ANSWERS FOR OUR BUSINESS IS TO GO TO VERMONT HEALTH CONNECT. THEN THEY WERE THE ONES THAT GOT SORT OF KICKED OUT BECAUSE THEY WAITED THAT SYSTEM TO WORK. THOSE ARE THE PEOPLE THAT WANTED THAT EMPLOYEE CHOICE AND NOW THEY CAN'T HAVE THAT. THERE IS A PREFERENCE BUT AT LEAST FOR COVERAGE EMBEDDED IN THE ALTERNATIVE. I THINK THAT IS WEIGHING OUT. IF WE COULD HAVE THE SYSTEM THAT IS PROMISED AND HAVE IT SIGNED.

>> LET'S TALK ABOUT MANDATORY PAID SICK DAYS. THERE IS REALLY NO EXPECTATION THAT ANYTHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN WITH THAT IN THIS SESSION. THE REPRESENTATIVE THAT PUT IT FORTH FEELS SHE HAS THE MOMENTUM TO GO INTO THE NEXT SESSION. WHAT ARE YOU HOPING HAPPENS?

>> I THINK WE SAW A NUMBER OF BUSINESSES TO THE STATE HOUSE TO TALK WITH LEGISLATORS ABOUT THEIR PERSPECTIVE. WHETHER IT'S THIS YEAR OR NEXT YEAR OR WHEN, I THINK IT'S GOOD TO HAVE THE CONVERSATION ABOUT THIS. WE HAVE FOUND WITH OUR MEMBERS ALL AROUND THE STATE MOST OF THEM ARE DEALING WITH THIS. THEY DO HAVE EITHER PAID TIME OFF POLICY COMBINED TIME OFF, SOMETIMES SICK LEAVE. THEY ARE ABLE TO DO THAT. THIS TYPE OF ONE SIZE FITS ALL POLICY THAT HAS BEEN PROMOTED AT THE LEGISLATURE THIS SESSION DOESN'T REALLY WORK FOR A LOT OF VERMONT EMPLOYERS. IN SOME CASES, LARGER EMPLOYERS HAVE POLICIES THAT MIGHT HAVE FIVE OR SIX OR HOWEVER MANY DAYS FOR SICK DAYS, SMALLER EMPLOYERS HAVE LESS FLEXIBILITY. IF YOU ONLY HAVE FIVE FULL TIME EMPLOYEES YOU HAVE MORE TROUBLE HANDLING A MANDATE THAT IS ONE SIZE FITS ALL. THAT IS SOME OF THE CONCERNS THAT WE BROUGHT TO THE TABLE. I THINK TODAY WE HAVE HAD A NUMBER OF LEGISLATORS UNDERSTAND THAT FROM SMALL BUSINESSES, SMALL BUSINESSES 95% OF THE EMPLOYERS IN THE STATE.

>>> DO YOU SUBSCRIBE TO THE ARGUMENT THAT GIVING EMPLOYEES PAID TIME OFF MEANS A HEALTHIER WORK FORCE BECAUSE THEN THEY ARE NOT CONTAMINATING THE REST OF YOUR WORK FORCE WHEN SOMEONE PUSHES THE ISSUES AND COMES IN SICK?

>> I THINK WE ALL WANT HEALTHY PEOPLE. NONE OF US WANT TO BE WORKING NEXT TO SOMEBODY OR SERVING SOMEBODY THAT HAS A COLD OR SOMETHING. I THINK THAT IS THE NOTION WHY THE SICK LEAVE AND SO MANY EMPLOYERS OFFER THAT. THEY BELIEVE THAT AND THEY THINK THEY SHOULD. I THINK WE ALL KNOW COMPANIES THAT HAVE GOOD TIME PAID OFF FOR SICK LEAVE POLICY AND STILL COME TO WORK WITH A TOUCH OF THE FLU FOR A VARIETY OF DIFFERENT REASONS PEOPLE DO THAT. I'M NOT SURE THAT A MANDATE THAT DOESN'T WORK FOR ALL SIZE EMPLOYERS ARE GOING TO FIX THAT PROBLEM. WE JUST DON'T THINK -- YOU THINK THAT BUSINESSES SHALL CURRENTLY MANAGING THAT. THEN EMPLOYEES HAVE MAX'D OUT THEIR SICK LEAVE. THERE IS A LOT OF DISCUSSION BECAUSE A SMALL EMPLOYER SITUATION YOU HAVE CONVERSATIONS WITH THE OWNER AND PRESIDENT AND CEO BUT IT'S ALL THAT SAME PERSON.

>> SEVEN DAYS -- DO YOU HAVE ANY WHAT PERCENTAGE OF BUSINESSES DON'T OFFER PAID SICK LEAVE? THIS STILL WOULD ONLY REQUIRE A WEEK'S WORTH OF SICK TIME BE AVAILABLE?

>> I GO BY PERCENTAGES. MOST THAT I'M FAMILIAR WITH ARE MOVING TOWARD A COMBINED TIME OFF AND PAID TIME OFF. ONE OF THE CITIES THAT IS BIG FOR AN EMPLOYER IN THAT SITUATION AND FOR AN EMPLOYEE, YOU CAN USE THAT TIME FOR WHATEVER YOU NEED. IF YOU HAVE MORE SICK DAYS NEEDED YOU HAVE MORE THAN THOSE PRESCRIBED DAYS. OR YOU DON'T YOU CAN USE THAT FOR WHATEVER. THE EMPLOYER ACTUALLY JUST NEEDS TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE NOT COMING TO WORK TODAY. THEY DON'T WANT TO KNOW WHY OR IF YOU ARE SICK, STAY HOME. IF YOU NEED TO MAKE YOUR CHILD SICK, STAY HOME. IT'S THAT KIND OF THING. THAT IS WHERE PAID TIME OFF JUST WORKS AND IS MORE FLEXIBLE AND DOESN'T REQUIRE THE EMPLOYEE TO GIVE A REASON WHEREAS, I'M SICK, TOMORROW THE DAY OFF AND WHICH IS WHY THE MOVEMENT TO THAT HAS BEEN HELPFUL.

>> ANOTHER ISSUE THAT HAS BEEN BROUGHT UP IS THAT MANDATORY LAYOFF NOTIFICATION. KIND OF STARTED WITH IBM TOUGH TIMES WE FACED WITH THAT AND SEEN SO MANY PEOPLE LOSE THEIR JOBS. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT TYPE OF NOTIFICATION?

>> WE HAD A FEDERAL NOTIFICATION. IT'S CALLED THE WARREN ACT. IT DOES ONLY APPLY -- CONSIDERED AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL WHICH IS VERY FEW AFTERNOON VERMONT. THE WARREN ACT THAT IS BEING INTRODUCED IN THE STATE IS REALLY THE THRESHOLD LEVEL THEY PUT IN IS QUITE UNMANAGEABLE. THEY ARE SUGGESTING IN EVERY 20 LAYOFFS NEED TO BE REPORT. THE REPORTING REQUIREMENTS FOR THAT, IF YOU TAKE A COMPANY IN VERMONT VERY AVERAGE SMALL BUSINESS WITH 40 EMPLOYEES THAT IS HUGELY STRUGGLING. SEVERAL SMALL MANUFACTURERS IN THIS PLACE WHERE SEQUESTRATION HIT THEM QUICKLY. CONTRACTS STOPPED IMMEDIATELY. MOST MANUFACTURERS AREN'T STOCKPILING INVENTORY ANYMORE. IF YOU ORDER STOCK, THE WORK STOPPAGE COMES. THERE IS NOT A 90-DAY NOTICE IN THIS PARTICULAR BILL IS ASKING FOR 90-DAY NOTICE. FEDERAL LAW ASKS FOR A 60-DAY NOTICE. THERE ARE TWO THINGS THAT ARE NOT QUITE RIGHT WITH THE BILL IS THE NUMBER OF LAYOFFS IS TOO LOW. THE NUMBER OF DAYS FOR NOTIFICATION ARE WAY TOO FAR UP.

>> CLEARLY THE LEGISLATURE IS IN PART TRYING TO ADDRESS THE ISSUE WHERE A LARGE EMPLOYER LIKE IBM LAYS OFF JUST UNDER THE TOTAL REQUIRED FOR REPORTING. ARE THERE WAYS THEY COULD BETTER ADDRESS THAT WITHOUT SETTING SUCH A LOW BAR IN YOUR OPINION?

>> ONE OF THE THINGS I SUGGEST IS THAT WE HAVE SORT OF AN INFORMAL WARNING SITUATION WE HAVE CURRENTLY NOW WHERE REGIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS HAVE A REPORTING SYSTEM. I JUST FOUND OUT THAT THIS COMPANY LOST THIS CONTRACT. I DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS YET, LET'S REACH OUT TO THAT COMPANY AND FIND OUT. THERE SAN INFORMAL PROCESS BY THE DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND YOU ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. THERE IS SOME AWARENESS. REALITY QUESTION IS WHAT IS THE WARNING FOR AND WHAT DO YOU NEED NOTIFICATION FOR? AND I THINK THE LACK OF RESPONSE FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, IF IT IS DEPLOYED REGULARLY. YOU DON'T NEED WARNINGS FOR THAT. IT'S A WELL WORN SYSTEM UNFORTUNATELY, BUT WE DO HAVE A RAPID RESPONSE TEAM THAT DOES THAT. WE HAVE A U.I.SYSTEM THAT CAN HANDLE THOSE LAYOFFS AND BENEFITS. WE HAVE ALL OF THOSE THINGS YOU NEED TO GET THOSE IN PLACE TO FIND A NEW JOB, TO HELP THEM IN THAT LAYOFF PERIOD, THOSE ARE TRIED AND TRUE SYSTEMS THAT THE STATE GOVERNMENT HAS AND DOES QUITE WELL. FOR US AFTER 20 LAYOFFS, NOTIFICATION, WE DON'T UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEM IS.

>> ARE THERE OTHER PIECES OF LEGISLATION AT THE STATE HOUSE THAT WOULD BE GOOD FOR THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY?

>> ABSOLUTELY. THERE IS A VIBRANT DISCUSSION GOING ON ABOUT WORK FORCE TRAINING AND HOW WE GET FOLKS TO HAVE STRONG SKILLS. WE'RE A STRONG SUPPORTER OF THE VERMONT TRAINING PROGRAM. IT'S ABOUT $1.2 MILLION OF FUNDING TODAY. THAT IS QUITE A BIT DOWN WHERE IT WAS YEARS AGO. WE HAVE BEEN STRIVING TO GET BACK TO $2 MILLION OF FUNDING. THAT IS PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP THAT INVESTS IN THE WORKER. YOU HAVE AN A AGING WORK FORCE AND YOU THINK ABOUT IN TECHNOLOGY SETTING YOU HAVE A WORKER FRESH OUT OF COLLEGE BUT NOT READY FOR RETIREMENT EITHER. THAT PERSON, NEW TECHNOLOGY COMES INTO THE BUSINESS, WE WACHB TO MAKE SURE THE WORKER GETS PAID. SO YOU INVEST IN THE WORKER SO THE SKILLS ARE CURRENT.

>> I NOTICED YOU MENTIONED NOT FRESH OUT OF COLLEGE AND NOT READY FOR RETIREMENT. THAT IS THE SWEET SPOT FOR THESE DOLLARS. THERE IS SOME DEBATE ABOUT WHETHER BUSINESSES HAVE PUT OFF WORK FORCE TRAINING AND PUT THE RESPONSIBILITY ON THE STATE RATHER THAN DOING IT IN-HOUSE AS WAS THE CASE SOME RESPECTS.

>> THERE IS MORE MONEY IN THE FUND AND A LOT MORE TRAINING. THE FUND IS USED FOR INCUMBENT WORKERS BUT ALSO FOR NEW HIRES. IT CAN BE USED THAT ARE FRESH COMING OUT OF COLLEGE AND COMING INTO THE WORK FORCE FROM SOME OTHER AVENUE. THERE IS THAT AS WELL, BUT EMPLOYERS ARE TEACHING EMPLOYEES EVERYDAY. THEY ARE TRAINING THEM EVERYDAY. SOME PROGRAMS ARE MORE FORMAL THAN OTHERS AND THESE ARE FOR MORE FORMAL PROGRAMS SPECIFICALLY.

>> THERE ARE MANY PEOPLE WILL HEAR THAT -- MANY PEOPLE WILL I SAY I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO FIND A JOB AND I AM NOT HAVING ANY LUCK. WHAT ARE THE PRIMARY SKILLS THAT VERMONT BUSINESSES ARE LOOKING FOR?

>> THERE ARE PEOPLE OUT THERE THAT CAN'T FIND A JOB. WE HAVE THE MISMATCH PROBLEM THAT EMPLOYERS SAY, I CAN'T FIND THE RIGHT PEOPLE. UNFORTUNATELY THERE IS NOT A SIMPLE ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION. IF THERE WAS, WE WOULD BE OFF TO THE RACES AND LEGISLATING IT TOMORROW BUT THE BEAUTY OF THE VERMONT ECONOMY WE'RE NOT HEAVILY INVESTED IN ONE AREA. WE HAVE A DIVERSIFIED ECONOMY AND STRENGTH IN MANUFACTURING AND STRENGTH IN TOURISM. WE LIKE A DIVERSITY SO I THINK WE HAVE SOME PROGRAMS THAT ARE MATCHED UP FOR THAT. WE HAVE SOMETHING THAT IS FOR THOSE FOLKS LEARNING HOW TO SHOW UP ON TIME, GET TO WORK, DO THE RIGHT THING. COME TO WORK AND BE ABLE TO DO THAT. THAT IS BASIC SKILL LEVEL FOR EVERYTHING. WE HAVE SOME HIGH-TECH PROGRAMS AS WELL YOU CAN GET TRAINED FOR FURTHER ON. I THINK THE SKILL SETS, YOU HEAR STEM TECHNOLOGY, SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING AND MATH, I THINK THAT IS A SEEMS TO BE THE SIGHT RIGHT NOW BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN WE NEED CUSTOMER SERVICE SKILLS AND BASIC MATH SKILLS. WHEN THE YOU ARE WAITING ON SOMEBODY, YOU NEED INTERPERSONAL SKILLS, AS WELL.

>> WE ARE CHATTING TODAY WITH VERMONT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE PRESIDENT BETSY B

>>> WELCOME BACK, YOU CAN QUOTE ME. BETSY BISHOP, PRESIDENT OF THE VERMONT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE.

>> WE HEARD COMPONENTS MOVING AN OPERATION OUT OF THE STATE GOING MICHIGAN. THE TALK OF IBM POSSIBLY LOOKING TO SELLING THE CHIP MAKING OPERATION CERTAINLY COULD MEAN JOB LOSSES. CAN VERMONT COMPETE WHEN COMPANIES ARE CONSOLIDATING?

>> THERE ARE TWO LARGE MANUFACTURERS YOU TALKED ABOUT. YOU THINK ABOUT JOBS GOING OUT OF THE COMMUNITY AND IMPACT IN ESSEX WITH IBM, I THINK WE HAVE A GREAT STORY TO TELL. IT'S HARDER FOR US TO TRY TO ATTRACT THAT BIG BRAND NAME COMPANY, BUT WHAT WE ARE REALLY GOOD AT DOING IS THINKING ABOUT THE START-UP COMPANIES AND TURN THEM INTO A MEDIUM SIZED COMPANIES. OUR SWEET SPOT FOR BUSINESS IS NOT EMPLOYERS WITH HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS OF EMPLOYEES. WE WOULD LOVE TO HAVE THEM. WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THEY STAY. TO BE ABLE TO GROW THAT 20 PERSON COMPANY OR 40 PERSON COMPANY IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO COMMUNITIES AROUND THE STATE. I HAVE BEEN THRILLED TO SEE THE NEWS WHERE WE'VE SEEN NATIONAL NEWS OUTLETS RANKING US AS NUMBER ONE IN THE COUNTRY FOR INNOVATION. WE'RE IN THE TOP TEN FOR ENTREPRENEURIALISM. THAT IS THE STORY OUTSIDE OF OUR BORDERS AND EXACTLY THE TYPE OF MESSAGE THAT FITS VERMONT REALLY WELL. YOU SEE HOME-GROWN COMPANIES DOING REALLY WELL. WE ARE ALLEGES IN THAT RECRUITMENT AND PLACE WE'RE TRYING TO FIND THOSE COMPANIES THAT COME TO VERMONT AND TRYING TO MAKE SURE THAT COMPANIES STAY HERE. I THINK IS HAPPENING.

>> THAT IS FROM THE FLIP SIDE THE GREEN MOUNTAIN COFFEE, EVEN OUR LOCAL FOOD INDUSTRY IS INCREDIBLE TO SEE. CAN THAT SUSTAIN AN ECONOMY?

>> I THINK IT CAN. THE REASON IS BECAUSE OF THE DIVERSITY OF THAT. I THINK WE NEED THE LARGE EMPLOYERS HERE BECAUSE THEY OFTEN HAVE THE SMALL EMPLOYERS, SMALL BUSINESSES IN THE SUPPLY CHAIN OF THE LARGER BUSINESSES, WE NEED THAT. VERMONT IS NO DIFFERENT THAN OTHER PLACES, IF YOU WANT TO GROW ECONOMY IN, YOU TALK TO BUSINESSES THEY ARE MAKING PRODUCTS AND HAVE SERVICES AND THEIR CUSTOMERS ARE ALL OVER THE WORLD. WE HAVE THAT MEANS OF MOVEMENT OF PRODUCT AND SERVICES NOW THAT YOU CAN GO BEYOND OUR BORDERS. WE WOULD LIKE TO HAVE THEM HERE AND GROWING HERE BUT AT THE SAME TIME TO MAKE SURE WE HAVE STRONG CONNECTIONS OUTSIDE OF OUR BORDERS SO YOU HAVE A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO SELL YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE.

>> THE REGIONAL OUTLOOK MIGHT BE CHANGING YOUR STATE HAS OFFERED SOME INCREDIBLE INCENTIVES FOR BUSINESSES.

>> READ THE FINE PRINT. [ LAUGHTER ]

>> TEN YEARS FREE OF TAXES, THEY GO, HOW CAN WE POSSIBLY COMPETE WITH THAT?

>> IF IT IS ABOUT RECRUITING BUSINESSES AND PUTTING MONEY ON THE TABLE AND CUTTING TAXES, YOU HEAR ABOUT IT IN OTHER STATES, $18 MILLION PROPOSAL TO HAVE THIS -- WE'RE NOT GOING TO WIN THAT GAME. FRANKLY VERMONT DOESN'T EVEN PLAY IN THAT GAME. IT'S VERY HARD TO DO WITH THE SIZE. IT'S MORE IMPORTANT THAT WE HAVE AN ECONOMIC CLIMATE THAT DOES WORK FOR US. THAT IS SORT OF THAT MEDIUM SIZED BUSINESS. EVEN COMPANIES THAT HAVE 200, 300 EMPLOYEES THOSE ARE CONSIDERED BY OTHER STATE STANDARDS BUT THOSE ARE BIG BUSINESSES TO VERMONT.

>> AS YOU LOOK BACK IN THE LAST YEAR, IF YOU HAD TO GIVE OUR BUSINESS CLIMATE A GRADE, WHAT WOULD IT GET?

>> I'M NOT SURE. I'M NOT A GOOD TEACHER. I'M NOT SURE I WOULD GIVE IT A GRADE. I WOULD SAY WE HAVE SOME BRIGHT SPOTS. WE'VE HAD SOME TROUBLES, AS WELL. WE'RE PROBABLY IN THE SLIGHTLY ABOVE AVERAGE CATEGORY. WHEN YOU LOOK AT THOSE HEADLINES, TODAY'S HEADLINES AND YOU LOOK AT SOME OF THAT, IT'S HARD TO SWALLOW. AT THE SAME TIME WHEN I AM ABLE TO GO INTO A SMALL BUSINESS AND FIND OUT A CONTRACT THEY GOT WITH A VERY HUGE OUT OF STATE COMPANY AND THEY ARE HIRING TEN NEW PEOPLE FOR THAT, THAT DOESN'T MAKE THE HEADLINES AND WE DON'T SEE THAT BUT MULTIPLY THAT OVER AND OVER, THAT IS THE STORY THAT VERMONT HAS AND THAT IS WHAT WE'RE WORKING ON.

>> IS THERE ANYTHING HANGING OVER THE HORIZON WE SHOULD BE NERVOUS ABOUT?

>> THERE IS A LOT OF UNCERTAINTY. THAT ALWAYS FREEZES BUSINESS DECISIONS. WE'RE LOOKING FOR PREDICABILITY ESPECIALLY IN TAX CLIMATE. OVER THE LAST YEAR, I WOULD SAY HEALTHCARE, AS WELL. IT'S WHY WE STARTED THE CONVERSATION WITH HEALTHCARE AND IT'S WHY WE'RE SAYING GIVE US THE PLEA DISTRICT BUILT AND SAYING WHAT IF -- PREDICABILITY.

>> BUT GIVE US SOME PREDICABILITY. BUSINESSES HAVE TO THE SAME THING WITH HEALTHCARE NEXT YEAR, THAT IS HUGE CONCERN.

>> ARE BUSINESSES MORE FOCUSED ON THE SHORT TERM CONCERN OF HOW WE ADAPT TO HAVING A FEDERAL HEALTH EXCHANGE, MORE CONCERNED ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF MOVING TO SINGLE PAYER OR LOOKING THAT FAR AHEAD IN THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE.

>> I THINK BUSINESSES HAVE A HARD TIME LOOKING AHEAD TO A YOU KNOW VERSE AL HEALTHCARE SYSTEMS AND THE TAXES THAT ARE GOING TO BE LEVIED TO PAY FOR THAT. THERE IS A LOT OF UNREST IN THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY ABOUT ANY KIND OF PAYROLL TAX ESPECIALLY IF IT IS GOING TO RAISE ANY TAX, IT'S GOING RAISE $2 BILLION WILL HAVE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT ON THE ECONOMY OF VERMONT.

>> IN HAVING HIM AT THE TOP OF THE GREEN MOUNTAIN BOARD ALLOWING PEOPLE TO SLEEP BETTER AT NIGHT?

>> HE IS AN INCREDIBLE BUSINESSMAN. HE HAS DONE A GREAT JOB OF UNDERSTANDING THE COMPLEXITY OF HEALTH CARE BECAUSE HEALTHCARE REFORM IS NOT EASY. WHAT I LOVE ABOUT HAVING ALGO BAY, WE NEED COST CONTAINMENT. IT DOESN'T MATTER HOW PAY FOR IT HEALTHCARE WILL BE EXPENSIVE.

>> WHAT DOES VERMONT HAVE TO DO BETTER OTHER THAN HEALTHCARE?

>> I GO BACK TO PREDICTABILITY. WE NEED A TAXING POLICY WE CAN PLAN FOR IN THE FUTURE. WE NEED TO MAKE SURE WE HAVE THE ABILITY TO GROW HERE IN VERMONT AND THAT WE WANT GROWTH. JOB GROWTH IS THE ANSWER TO SO MANY OF OUR ISSUES. WE NEED MORE STATE REVENUE TO PAY FOR A LOT OF THINGS. INSTEAD OF RAISING TAXES, IF WE CAN GROW THE ECONOMY YOU GET THE SAME REVENUE AND SOLVE A LOT OF THOSE PROBLEMS. WE'RE LOOKING FOR GOVERNMENT TO BE A PARTNER IN THAT. IN MANY WAYS THEY ARE. TO BE ABLE TO HAVE THAT PARTNERSHIP SO WE CAN BREAK OUT HERE.

>> GENERAL TAX REFORM AND EDUCATION AND PROPERTY TAX REFORM HAS BEEN ON THE TABLE AT THE LEGISLATURE. IS THAT CONVERSATION THAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN OVER MULTIPLE YEARS AS A OPPOSED TO ONE SESSION?

>> MY EXPERIENCE EDUCATION, TAX REFORM IT TAKES A NUMBER YEARS TO GET TO A SENSE WHEN THAT IS GOING TO CHANGE. I THINK EACH OF THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS WE HAVE SEEN THAT BIT OF UNREST. FOR BUSINESSES IT'S RISING TO A LEVEL OF CONCERN AND SOME MORE THAN OTHERS BUT I THINK YOU ARE STARTING TO SEE THAT IN RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY TAXES, AS WELL. LIKE SO MANY ISSUES THAT ARE THIS COMPLEXITY DOES TAKE A NUMBER OF YEARS TO REST TOLL UNDERSTAND THE PIECES OF THAT. THINK WE'RE STARTING TO SEE ATTENTION BEING PAID TO IT.

>> BETSY BISHOP, PRESIDENT OF CHAMBER OF COMMERCE THANKS SO MUCH FOR JOINING US TODAY. HAVE A GREAT REST OF YOUR SUNDAY.

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