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Shumlin officially kicks off re-election campaign - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Shumlin officially kicks off re-election campaign

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Months after he filed to run again and two weeks after winning his party's primary, Gov. Peter Shumlin kicked-off his re-election campaign.

He walked into Burlington's Main Street Landing flanked by former Gov. Madeleine Kunin.

"Our economy is growing and we're creating jobs with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the entire nation," said Shumlin, D-Vermont.

The governor continued to tout Vermont's low unemployment rate as a sign of economic health though state economists say it reflects a lack of workers.

"I was elected to get tough things done," said Shumlin.

Rattling off achievements during his four years in office, he listed the addition of universal pre-K, opiate reform, rebuilding efforts in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene, renewable energy development, expansion of cell and Internet service, the state's GMO labeling bill, and the push toward single-payer health care.

"The promise of single-payer health care is just a promise until we actually deliver," said Shumlin.

The governor did not deliver a plan for single-payer health care by the legislatively mandated deadline of January 2013 that he says will wait until this January.

Despite pledging not to rest until it's ready, he also won't commit to the plan until the numbers add up.

In his first shot at his opponents, he criticized Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Milne for not sharing any of his political ideas.

The governor did call Milne and Libertarian candidate Dan Feliciano, "good, well-meaning folks."

"But their ideas are wrong for Vermont and they'll take us and our state backward," said Shumlin.

The governor and his opponents will have their first chance to debate face to face at the Tunbridge Fair Saturday.

The governor touched on similar topics in an extended conversation with WCAX Reporter Kyle Midura earlier in the day.

Kyle Midura: You're kicking off your campaign today, why should Vermonters vote for you?

Gov. Peter Shumlin: I think that we're making progress; creating jobs, lifting the votes for Vermonters who've been struggling. I took over right after the worst recession in American history; we're making real progress, but we've got to make more of it.

Midura: How do you make sure that gains in the economy continue at a faster rate? Certainly we've been recovering, but many would like to see a faster recovery rate.

Shumlin: Well, you've got to balance budgets without raising broad-based taxes. I know I sound like a broken record, but I've now been governor for almost four years and I refuse to raise income taxes, sales taxes, rooms and meals taxes because I think Vermonter know that taxes are high enough. Second is, continuing to be bold on the problems that are really dragging down our incomes. What are they? We know that property taxes continue to be a challenge, second we know that if health care, that if we stick with the current health care system we have, the costs are rising so fast, that it will gobble up more and more of our income. So we know spend twenty cents of every dollar we make on health care.

Midura: What is the biggest lesson you have learned from the role out of this health exchange?

Shumlin: Don't take a health care system that's already complicated and make it more complicated, number one. And I think the second lesson is don't think that technology can solve all of your problems.

Midura: Are you still convinced that single-payer's that pass forward?

Shumlin: I really am. You know, the problem we have with health care, to put it in plain English, is the current system isn't sustainable. I personally believe that the way we pay for health care is unfair. We are lucky to be in a state where conversation about moving to a system that spends less money than we otherwise would includes everybody, and moves to a fair system where you have health care because you are a Vermont resident, not because of who you are, where you are or how much money you make.

Midura: Can you share any elements of what you think some of the funding mechanisms for health care in Vermont under single pair might be?

Shumlin: This is what I can tell you. Vermont is one of the few states where you can have this conversation, once you have this plan that's ready to be keyed up, we'll get it to the Legislature and to Vermonters by January. If it's a plan that hurts Vermont, hurts business, hurts families, of course we won't do it.

Midura: Are property taxes currently unaffordable in Vermont?

Shumlin: For some, let's remember that 60 percent of Vermonters are income sensitized, so obviously for those who are income sensitized they pay based upon their incomes not their property taxed bill. That really helps those that are struggling or at the lower end of the middle. The folks that are really feeling this burden are the folks who continue to see their property taxes rise and aren't income sensitized. We've got to right-side the ship.

Midura: How you do that? Is consolidation a major part of that mix?

Shumlin: Well, you know I've never believed that Montpelier is short of shoving consolidation down the throats of local communities is going to work. Go out to local communities and collect the data, enter into a partnership with local school boards, communities with town meetings, say "listen this is what happens when you keep doing what you're doing."

Midura: How do you respond to those who say you're not doing enough for the state when you're out of state?

Shumlin: Well, first I can assure you I haven't had 140 days of vacation this year. Whether I'm in state or out of state my only goal is to grow jobs, grow economic opportunity, make the contacts necessary to ensure that we have a more prosperous future. I find that relationships that I build through the governor's associations, with the other governors is critical to helping us get things done regionally and help us get things done here in Vermont.

Midura: How do we get the young people back in Vermont?

Shumlin: I think as long as we have good paying jobs, which we do now in this state, we'll bring young people here because we have the best quality of life of anywhere in the country.

In response to the governor's campaign kickoff, Republican challenger Scott Milne said, "I'm happy he had time to actually be in Vermont for it. Second of all, if folks consider Scott Milne for governor, I not only promise you that I'll be a full-time governor for the people of Vermont, my number one priority is going to be helping you find a full-time job you can afford to live in Vermont on if that's what you want."

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