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Congrats to Darcie on her new position. She has worked on health care reform for many years and she understands the problems we are facing as a nation on this issue to balance cost with effective care and access to the healthcare system.
I believe the article, extensively quoting another source, is unfairly biased, and I am dissappointed in Seven Days for publishing it as such. What new administration doesn't hire their own people to work in key areas, particularly those who are qualified with experience and knowledge?
Vermont, under Shumlin, failed at healthcare reform. We have expanded Medicaid to the point where it has become a serious financial risk to the state with over 30% of our population on e program--that is far beyond any other state's level. This has resulted in very high health care insurance costs which is effecting economic growth along with other anti-business policies.
Louras and all the politicos up to Leahy operated in a veil of secrecy with the contractor. That way the public could not examine cost and capacity concerns upfront. The whole application process was a secret, despite that the Dept of State solicitation requires the cooperation and support of the local governing body, not the mayor, for a new resettlement site. That was never done. In fact, the Board of Aldermen sent a letter of non-support out of frustration with the stonewalling. The application was submitted without the knowledge or support of the local government and without the state refugee coordinator meeting with elected officials to receive their input. Mr. Heintz knew this too because I sent him about 500 pages from public records requests which show what happened. Rutland was treated differently, and I contend unfairly, by the contractor and the state by the state refugee coordinator's own admission.
What is being proposed for Rutland is 100 refugees per year, for a very long time, not 100 and done.
Mr. Heintz has not covered the situation accurately. I explained to him, or tried to anyway, that the 35% increase includes a 20% base increase of expected cost increases in education and municipal budgets. I sent Mr. Heintz the detail of my projection. Mr. Louras is deceiving the public by claiming I have said the 35% tax increase in 5 years is only due to resettlement. He knows better. He knows I am pretty good with a spreadsheet and that scares him. So he resorts to name calling and mudslinging.
However, that 15% differential is quite a lot of money for Rutland taxpayers which will have serious fiscal consequences. It amounts to a 70% increase on top of the expected costs. If we were to reduce the number of refugees to 20-25 per year, which would be more in scale with other resettlement communities, that would
be an 18% increase over the base--much more doable for a poor town with few jobs and a small commercial tax base. The school board and the mayor have three years to prove me wrong. It took Governor Shumlin about that amount of time to prove me right on the $2 billion price tag of single payer.
The VTGOP should have not been involved in this at all.
Your assessment is incorrect. VTDigger wrote a piece about the Syrian refugee resettlement to which the mayor of Rutland agreed without the public or the legislative body, wherein the the two Republican candidates for governor give their opinions. In that article, Phil Scott flip flops on his former position and supports the mayor's decision to accept Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Bruce Lisman sticks to his position to hold until the FBI is able to feel the refugee group can be substantially vetted for security concerns due to the threat of ISIS infiltration. The Democratic Party and its candidates are fully supportive of accepting the refugees without getting concerns:
Leaving aside the question of whether Rutland is capable of supporting a refugee resettlement, the FBI concern has been validated recently by Germany and Lebanon who have found ISIS among the refugees from Syria. At least 14 states have recently ended their resettlement programs with the Feds due to these concerns, the latest to do so were Kansas and New Jersey.
If you support accepting the refugees, despite the FBI's worry, then you have all three Democratic candidates for governor and Phil Scott as your possible choices.
Best piece of journalism I have ever read in Seven Days. It captures the timeline and the essential issues in a very succinct and thoughtful way. Please continue to 'verify'. As you note that has been sadly lacking in most VT journalism for quite sometime. A free, inquisitive, independent and accurate press is essential for political system to work and avoid excesses such as this. I hope to see more proactive investigation and reporting about the financial status of the state and the policies that have created them.
Use every dime of the money raised to rid the statehouse of the tax and spend liberals who have raised taxes EVERY year for the last 6 years, cannot bring themselves to cut the budget, brought us the Vermont Health Connect disaster and now want to give themselves a raise despite the crappy job they do.
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