Political Parties Assess Vermont Economy
11/22/11 5:50PM By Bob Kinzel  Download MP3
(Host) The leaders of Vermont's three major political parties all say strengthening the state economy is one of their top priorities in the coming year.
But as VPR's Bob Kinzel reports, the Democrats, Republicans and Progressives have different strategies to achieve this goal.
(Kinzel) Pat McDonald is the chair of the Vermont Republican Party. She's a former lawmaker and also served as Secretary of Transportation in the Douglas Administration.
She says the huge Democratic majorities in both the Vermont House and Senate aren't good for the discussion of key economic policies. That's because she says the Democrats aren't really interested in reducing the role of government to help the state live within its means.
(McDonald) "We've been looking at bringing back balance to Montpelier. We think that that lack of balance is really not the way to set policy and to have the process work to the benefit of all Vermonters...and our message for Vermonters is really about growth, opportunity, and prosperity which we think is lacking in the current dialogue."
(Kinzel) Martha Abbott is the chair of the Progressive Party. She supports raising income tax rates for wealthy people as a way to provide essential services to the rest of the state.
(Abbott ) "I'd have to say the main issue is the gap between the wealthy and the poor and the increasing and growing gap between the wealthy and the poor. It's the economy right now in particular and the way in which we fix it which will either help alleviate a little bit of that gap or make it much worse."
(Kinzel) Jake Perkinson is the chair of the Democratic Party. He says Governor Shumlin's pursuit of a publicly financed health care system is a key way to stimulate the Vermont economy.
(Perkinson) "Number one on that list is health care and I think that the Governor has really taken a leadership role as he promised to do and also with the support of many people from the Progressive Party who have advocated for a long time for just this eventuality reaching out for single payer health care system so that is the highest priority."
(Kinzel) The Republicans were hoping to have a gubernatorial candidate in place by the end of September but those plans were delayed by tropical storm Irene.
GOP chair McDonald says she's confident that the Party will have a candidate in the next 2 or 3 weeks and it's possible that McDonald will run for governor if former Lt. Governor Brian Dubie and Franklin senator Randy Brock decide not to run.
For VPR News I'm Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.