Campaign Countdown: Scott Milne - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Campaign Countdown: Scott Milne

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BURLINGTON, Vt. - Republican Scott Milne paints his campaign for Governor as one of ideas.

State politics run in the family -- his mother served in the House of Representatives and his father is a long-time Clerk of the House -- but Milne is new to the game. He says his campaign is about convincing voters he can effectively run Vermont. "I've worked hard to convince people that I can, but it clearly  -- at its core -- is a referendum on Peter Shumlin," Milne said.

Milne says the state needs more balance in its government, as Democrats control the Governor's office and legislature. He blames the Governor for problems with the rocky rollout of the state's health exchange, a lagging economy, and ballooning education costs reflected in inflated property taxes. Milne says Vermont needs to find a way to get younger, as the average age of its population gets older. "They're all real symptoms of the demographic problem we have on the horizon, which is 20 years from now, there's going to be more than twice as many people over 65 in Vermont and 20 percent less people between the ages of 25 and 65," he said.

Milne's "ideas campaign" has been slow getting off the ground. Originally he promised detailed plans would be released in September. He released two framework proposals in October and is planning a third later this week. "Small employers need a good government, but really a good government needs employers and we haven't been doing a good job of treating small employers as great customers in Vermont lately," Milne said.

The first idea is offering new businesses five years tax free, and up to 10 years if the business substantially expands. Milne argues the idea should not hurt Vermont's tax revenue -- and could help. "Everybody that works in that business is still going to be paying income tax. Everybody buying houses in that business is still going to be paying property tax," he said, "everybody that's going out to eat or buying stuff."

The travel company owner calls for a capping of property taxes but not limiting spending, instead shifting the education tax burden solely onto income. Milne proposes allowing the state to split into 15 education districts with different tax rates, and searching for savings within communities. "Nationally there's about 15 students per staff member, so we have about 10 -- that's the low hanging fruit," he said.

The Pomfret resident suggests savings would be used to pay for vocational training or in-state college tuition for students from the area. "The college tuition is an incentive, it's all carrot and no stick," Milne said.

Milne says single-payer is dead. He says the idea and structures surrounding it are not developed enough to implement by 2017, or at all, at least until other states prove it works. When asked how to fill the state's roughly $100-million budget shortfall, he criticizes the Governor for putting the state in that position. But he says he would start where the Governor suggested, by cutting spending across agencies by five-percent. "It's taken us a lot more than two years to get into this mess, it's going to take us more than two years to get out of it," he said. "I'm promising Vermonters I'll be here working full-time to help get out of it."

Despite indications that Gov. Peter Shumlin is not enjoying as much support as he has in the past, recent polls indicate Milne still trails the incumbent by more than 10 points with one week left before the election.

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