Blog

Action Alert: Call the Governor Today!

Fellow Progressives,

On Tuesday, Progressive Legislators held a press conference at the Statehouse to express their concerns about Governor Peter Shumlin’s proposal to divert millions of dollars from the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit program, an extremely effective anti-poverty program.  Although Progressives share the Governor’s goals of universal Pre-K and more affordable and accessible Higher-Ed, they have substantial concerns about funding these programs with what amounts to a tax increase for thousands of working Vermonters.

Will you join our Legislators in standing up for working families by calling the Governor today at 802-828-3333 and letting him know you don’t support this funding scheme?  You can also email him here.

Diverting money from the Earned Income Tax Credit shifts funds away from those who need it the most.  It is a new tax that hits lower-income Vermonters hardest.  Some may say this is not a broad-based tax.  But it is worse.  It is a tax targeted at those least able to afford it: low-income Vermonters, working families, and others struggling to make ends meet.  It is tax that would affect over 40,000 Vermonters.  The Earned Income Tax Credit is recognized as one of the most effective anti-poverty programs in Vermont.  Cutting it contradicts our focus on building a state budget that puts people first.

Rather than tax those who are least able to afford it, our Progressive Legislators are asking the Administration to take the time to look at other funding options.  Will you join their effort by contacting Governor Shumlin at 802-828-3333 today?

Thank you for all you do.

Sincerely,

Robert Millar
Executive Director

Letter - A Challenge to Vermont's Other Major Political Parties

Today, I sent the following letter to my fellow major party Chairs, calling on them to join the Progressive Party in refusing corporate donations and asking them to join in a pledge to ask Super PACs to stay out of Vermont elections. This letter follows up on a resolution passed by the Party’s State Committee in November.



Jake Perkinson, Chair                Jack Lindley, Chair
Vermont Democratic Party         Vermont Republican Party
PO Box 1220                             PO BOX 70
Montpelier, VT  05601               Montpelier, VT 05601

Fellow Party Chairs,

The past two years saw historic levels of unlimited spending in Vermont and nationally on political campaigns by corporations and Super PACs on behalf of both Democratic and Republican Party candidates.

Here in Vermont, where we value the personal contact that we have with our political representatives, there has been a great deal of agreement from all sides of the political spectrum that the Citizens United decision was damaging to our democratic process.  Many people have called for a constitutional amendment to make it clear that corporations are not people, should not have the same rights as people, and that money is not speech.  This amendment would allow reasonable campaign finance limits that would prevent a handful of billionaires from being able to attempt to buy elections.

However, a constitutional amendment will take time.  Here in Vermont, we are fortunate to value the contributions of people of moderate means to the political process.  We can decide to preserve our open and accessible political process by agreeing to abide by some simple rules and insisting that all of the candidates who want the support of our respective parties also abide by these rules:

1) Refuse all corporate contributions.  Simply return those checks and ask that the corporate shareholders donate as individuals if they so wish.  Candidates for US Senate and US Representative are already prohibited under Federal Law from accepting donations from corporations.

2) Let’s agree that, as Chairs of our respective parties, we will pledge to publicly ask Super PACs not to spend money in Vermont on behalf of any candidate for public office.  Let’s also encourage all our candidates to do the same.  Let’s agree that, if any Super PAC does spend money on behalf of a Democrat, Republican or Progressive, that the favored party or candidate will donate half that amount of money to a Vermont charity.  Let’s also agree that we will challenge all the candidates who seek the support or nomination of our respective parties to make a similar agreement with their opponents.

We are lucky in Vermont to have a small community, where we know and respect each other and where democracy is alive and well.  Let’s show the rest of the country that we can take back our democracy from billionaires and corporations, and that we can do it by talking to each other and agreeing to work together on a level playing field even as we compete for votes.

Sincerely,

Martha Abbott, Chair
Vermont Progressive Party

Shumlin's Decision to Scrap Single Payer a Betrayal of Vermont's Working Families

Governor Peter Shumlin abandoned single payer healthcare yesterday right when political leadership was needed most to push Vermont and the country forward. He broke five years of campaign promises to Vermonters that he would not rest until we had single payer healthcare. Yet when things got tough and politically challenging, he gave up and walked away.

The Vermont Progressive Party did not run Progressive challengers against Governor Shumlin in the last three cycles, in large part because of his unwavering promise to lead on single payer. While we are outraged by Shumlin’s broken promises, we are not terribly surprised. Progressives have long raised the same challenges Shumlin is now using as his excuses for why we can't move ahead on single payer. We have long pushed for discussions about how we can equitably fund our new system, and live up to our promise of healthcare as a human right. But rather than work through these issues or scale back the project, Shumlin decided to scrap it entirely (and with it, many Vermonters' hopes of a just and accessible healthcare system).

Governor Shumlin only seems concerned about the projected future economic burden to businesses, not the burden that working people are bearing right now. There are significant and meaningful steps Vermont can take as we transition to a fully publicly financed health system-- a system that doesn't punish working families who can't afford the high costs of health insurance premiums. We can't be afraid to examine ways to fund a more fair, more efficient, universal system of healthcare delivery (like they have in virtually every other country in the industrialized world). Vermont needs leaders who aren't afraid of having these tough conversations, who aren't too scared to stand up for what's right. We owe that to the people of our state. Anything less is a betrayal of all Vermont's working families who struggle with the costs of healthcare every day. 

Vermont Progressives have built the strongest third political party in the country over the last 30 years, largely due to our unwavering commitment to reforming healthcare and economic justice. Our current elected legislators remain committed to finding a path forward. We are not backing down, despite this crisis of leadership. Vermont has a proud history of being out in front, despite the risks of opposing interest groups. We should stick with the Vermont tradition of having a difficult but honest discussion with our citizens.

Looking ahead, the Progressive Party will continue to find candidates to run for statewide and legislative office in 2016 who are unwavering in their commitment to comprehensive, universal health care. We increased the number of Progressives in the Statehouse in 2014, and we look forward to building off that momentum.

Vermonters want to see political leaders who stand up for the issues that matter to working people and don’t back down just because the debate heats up. Vermonters deserved better from Governor Shumlin. We aim to give it to them. It is clear that now, more than ever, Vermont needs a third party with a strong spine that will stand up where our current leaders have fallen down.

Press Release: Burlington Progressive Party Endorses Goodkind for Mayor, Candidates for City Council

From left: Councilor Selene Colburn, Councilor Max Tracy, mayoral candidate Steve Goodkind, Councilor Jane Knodell, city council candidate Sara Giannoni.

Sunday evening Progressive Party members voted at their Burlington caucus to endorse Steve Goodkind as the Progressive candidate for the 2015 mayoral race. The Party also endorsed candidates for at least half of the upcoming city council races.

Prior to the vote, Goodkind addressed the approximately 60 caucus participants, speaking about his experience as the former director of the Department of Public Works, and the many improvements he made over the years to help the city of Burlington function better. He said that many of the voters he’s spoken with are discontent with the job that Mayor Miro Weinberger is doing, especially in regard to city development, and Goodkind is running in part to provide them with another option on the ballot.

“Although there are plenty of things we should be saying ‘no’ to, this will be a positive campaign,” Goodkind said. “For every issue I raise, I’ll offer a viable alternative. I will stand for choices, not just for change.”

Four Progressives received the endorsement for Burlington City Council races. They are: Jane Knodell (Central district), Selene Colburn (East District), Max Tracy (Ward 2), and Sara Giannoni (Ward 3). Two Independents also received Progressive endorsements: Sharon Bushor (Ward 1), and Ben Vidal (Ward 8).

Current City Councilor for Ward 2, Jane Knodell, said she is excited to run for the district seat and stressed the importance of this upcoming election, which she said will determine the direction Burlington takes in the next few years, as well as whose voices are being heard in local government.

“The next City Council will be involved in decisions about the future of affordable housing, Burlington Telecom, and the Church Street Marketplace. We're talking about the future of our city," Knodell said. "Progressives will look out for all members of our community, most especially low- and middle-income families, and people whose voices are often marginalized because they aren’t the well-to-do.”

The Chair of the Burlington Progressive Party, Kyle Silliman-Smith, said she is pleased with the slate of candidates endorsed, and is optimistic about the upcoming election in March. “We want to provide voters with alternatives to the two-party system, and we want to elect people who will fight for progressive values,” she said. “I think we are doing that, and I’m excited to see what 2015 holds.”

2014 VPP Platform Proposed Amendments (no track edits)

PREAMBLE: The Vermont Progressive Party offers this platform to preserve and sustain democracy, guarantee inalienable rights, and promote the general welfare of the citizens of the State of Vermont.

 

CURRENT

PLATFORM COMMITTEE PROPOSAL

Healthcare

Progressives believe health care is a human right, and support single-payer health care, birth to death, free of private corporate interests (insurance companies), provided through a nonprofit, publicly financed system. We will work to:

  • Implement full-spectrum single-payer health care, including preventive and mental health care.
  • Establish community health centers to deliver medical and mental healthcare services.
  • Subsidize medical school tuition at UVM for students who agree to practice in Vermont after graduation.

Health Care

Progressives believe health care is a human right, and support universal, single-payer health care, birth to death, provided through a nonprofit, publicly financed system. We will work to:

  • Implement a comprehensive, full-spectrum single-payer health care system, including dental, vision, hearing, preventive and mental health care as well as providing coverage for proven alternatives to western medicine such as acupuncture, naturopathic, and chiropractic treatments.
  • Establish Community Health Centers to deliver health care services throughout the state.
  • Subsidize tuition for students in underrepresented medical fields, who agree to remain and practice in Vermont Community Health Centers after graduation.

Education

Progressives believe public education is the essential and most inclusive institution in our communities, offering opportunities for all to participate. We will work to:

  • Promote a public education system, Pre-K–12, that provides equal and equitable opportunities for all our children.
  • Replace the residential education property tax with a progressive income tax.
  • Increase the State of Vermont’s share of special-education funding and improve the quality of services offered.
  • Reduce postsecondary tuition costs for Vermonters; include free housing at Vermont state colleges for Vermont students.
  • Repeal the Federal No Child Left Behind Act with its excessive emphasis on standardized testing.
  • Oppose voucher programs, which undercut public education.
  • Support educator efforts at fair, constructive, and comprehensive evaluation and review.

Education

The VPP believes that a strong public educational system is an essential foundation to citizen participation in a democratic society. The VPP will work to:

  • Promote public education system, Pre-K through college that provides comprehensive opportunities for all abilities levels.
  • Replace or to supplement the residential education property tax system with an income based tax and other progressive forms of taxation such as a wealth tax.
  • Reduce post secondary tuition cost for Vermonters attending state schools with programs such as “pay it forward” and the Collegiate High School programs. The long -term goal of the VPP is a tuition-free college education for Vermonters at state schools.
  • Increase the federal and state share of special education funding and improve the quality of services through increased local professional and parental control.
  • Oppose ongoing federal and state efforts to undermine public schools through high stakes testing standardized curriculum, vouchers and charter schools.
  • Enable teachers to exercise more influence on the quality of education via greater respect for the contract negotiating process, school governance, and curriculum design and implementation.

Criminal Justice

Progressives are committed to public safety. We will work to:

  • Invest in prevention and anti violence programs.
  • Discontinue the failed “war on drugs.”
  • Fund drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs.
  • Limit incarceration to offenders who pose a threat to public safety.
  • Create effective penalties against driving under the influence to ensure public safety.
  • Work to provide in-state placements and treatment (rather than out-of-state).
  • Advocate for vocational and workplace training for offenders and youth at risk.
  • Provide education and literacy support in all corrections settings.

Criminal Justice

The VPP is committed to a criminal justice system that balances an individual’s legal rights in the criminal justice system and the public’s right to safety. The VPP will work to:

  • Increase federal and state investment in school and community-based prevention and rehabilitation initiatives in such areas as drug and alcohol issues, conflict resolution and mental health concerns.
  • Reduce incarceration rates by: supporting alternative means of punishment and rehabilitation strategies such as Restorative Justice programs; establishing a rational sentencing structure making the punishment fit the crime; and accelerating the parole process for nonviolent offenders.
  • Increase federal and state funding for drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs with an emphasis on an individual’s dignity and public’s safety.
  • Increase educational opportunities for people in the correctional system so as to foster rehabilitation over punishment to establish literacy, secondary and post-secondary, vocational and workplace training programs.
  • Create a state Citizen’s Oversight Committee for the Vermont Department of Corrections.
  • Keep Vermont offenders in our state correction facilities and out of “for-profit” institutions.
  • Develop effective state gun control measures, such as universal background checks, safe storage regulations and an end to the violent felon loophole. The VPP views the issues of gun violence as both a criminal and health issue for Vermonters

Civil Rights

Progressives will preserve Vermont’s national leadership as a champion of civil rights, in the tradition of Vermont’s history as the first state to outlaw slavery. Progressives believe our right to personal privacy, guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution, is unconditional. We will work to:

  • Support marriage equity for same-sex couples.
  • Ensure women’s rights to control their bodies and their choices.
  • Establish a Zero-Tolerance standard statewide toward all forms of discrimination and harassment (e.g., sexual) in schools and workplaces.
  • Protect the confidentiality of commercial transactions and medical information.
  • Restrict the ability of the state, cities, and towns to eavesdrop on private citizens.

Civil Rights

Progressives believe that Vermont should continue to lead the nation as a champion of civil rights. Progressives believe that our rights, which are laid out in the Vermont and U.S. Constitutions, are unconditional and must be protected equally for all people, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, economic status, nationality, immigration status or any other discriminatory reason. Progressives will work to:

  • Ensure an individual’s right to control their bodies and their medical choices with complete confidentiality.
  • Establish a statewide Zero-Tolerance standard toward all forms of discrimination and harassment in public places, schools and workplaces.
  • Ensure that control of each person’s private information and communications remains with that individual, and that state and local governments may not access, monitor or eavesdrop on these protected personal effects without due process.

Economy

Progressives believe that a vibrant and sustainable economy is one that recognizes preeminence of the “quality of life” concept and insists on a decent standard of living for all Vermonters. We will work to:

  • Establish and guarantee that the minimum wage must be a livable wage.
  • Advocate for the rights of workers to unionize and require all state contracts to be awarded only to businesses that pay a livable wage.
  • Insist that Vermont contract only with responsible employers that hire local employees.
  • Require that state-funded institutions buy products and services from Vermont farms and businesses wherever feasible.
  • Promote cooperative, worker-owned, and publicly owned enterprises as an alternative to huge profit-driven multinational corporations.
  • Calculate the economic impact resulting from the degradation of Vermont’s natural resources when evaluating the state’s economic development.
  • Change from Gross Domestic Product to another measure such as the Genuine Progress Indicator or Gross National Happiness indicator.
  • Fight to reverse the doctrine of “corporate personhood.”
  • Guarantee employment opportunity at a living wage to all working-age Vermonters.

Economy

Progressives believe that a strong, local economy is the foundation to a vibrant and sustainable future that promotes a high quality of life for all Vermonters. We will work to:

  • Establish and guarantee that all working age Vermonters are afforded the opportunity for full time employment which provides a living wage.
  • Advocate for the rights of workers to unionize.
  • Promote cooperatives, worker-owned businesses, public benefit corporations and publicly owned enterprises as alternatives to profit-driven multinational corporations.
  • Insist that Vermont contract only with responsible employers that hire local employees and pay a livable wage.
  • Require that state-funded institutions buy products and services from Vermont farms and businesses wherever feasible.
  • Change from the sole reliance on Gross Domestic Product to include other metrics, such as the Genuine Progress Indicator, to factor in social and environmental costs when evaluating our state’s economic development.
  • Establish a publicly owned state bank, which would invest state monies into our local economy, instead of wall street banks.

Environment

Progressives believe that Vermont’s natural environment is the foundation of our health, quality of life, and economy. We will work to:

  • Protect our water, air, and biodiversity through strict enforcement of existing regulations, the creation of new regulations, and financial incentives that reward responsible stewardship.
  • Strengthen effective land-use planning policies (e.g., Act 250, Current Use Program) that support town centers, farming, forestry, and conservation.
  • Promote environmentally sound use of Vermont’s natural resources by supporting composting, expanding recycling, reducing hazardous waste, and restoring polluted sites to environmental health.
  • Support and develop alternative energy resources and practices, statewide mass transit, and energy-efficiency programs to combat global warming/climate change.
  • Create a carbon tax that is used for green projects/alternative energy.

Environment

Progressives believe that Vermont’s natural environment is the foundation of our health, quality of life, and economy. We appreciate the intrinsic value of nature, and understand the need to be good stewards of this treasure so future generations can enjoy the same benefits as we do. We will work to:

  • Protect our water, air, and biodiversity through strict enforcement of existing regulations, the creation of new regulations when necessary, and financial incentives that reward responsible stewardship.
  • Strengthen effective land-use planning policies (e.g., Act 250, Current Use Program) that support town centers, farming, forestry, and conservation.
  • Promote environmentally sound use of Vermont’s natural resources by supporting composting, expanding recycling, reducing hazardous waste, and restoring polluted sites to environmental health.
  • Support and develop locally controlled, community scale, sustainable energy resources and practices, statewide mass transit, and energy-efficiency programs to combat climate change, protect our diverse ecosystem, and enhance our scenic beauty..
  • Create a carbon tax that is used to develop alternatives to carbon based energy.

Agriculture

Progressives know that agriculture, especially family farms, including timber, are essential to Vermont’s economy and cultural heritage. We will work to:

  • Support fair-trade prices for Vermont’s farmers and producers.
  • Invest in agricultural infrastructure with priority given to locally-owned, farmer-controlled enterprises such as vegetable-, meat-, and dairy-processing plants.
  • Support farm- and community-based enterprises with policies that open new markets, including direct sales to consumers.
  • Support farmers’ transition to organic and sustainable practices.

Agriculture

Progressives know that a diverse variety of small scale agricultural operations, such as family farms, orchards and woodlots, is essential to Vermont’s food security, economy and cultural heritage, while large scale agriculture tends to threaten our environment, has dubious effects on our health, and promotes a debt based economy. We will work to:

  • Promote and enforce agricultural regulations that will protect food safety and the environment from the risks associated with factory farms, without becoming onerous burdens to small producers.
  • Promote agricultural regulations which allow small producers to offer products that are unavailable otherwise, such as raw milk and farm slaughtered meat.
  • Support fair trade pricing for Vermont family farms, and develop farm and community based food hubs, processing centers, and other infrastructure needed to broaden the market for Vermont agricultural products, and to make locally produced food more readily available statewide.
  • Support efforts to transition to sustainable, organic farming practices such as changing the laws so compost can be considered a tax exempt agricultural product and ensuring that those planting GMOs are held accountable for any damages caused by those crops or the methods needed to grow them.

Housing

Progressives believe a safe, affordable place to live is the birthright of every Vermonter. We will work to:

  • End homelessness while supporting legal, medical, and financial assistance to the homeless.
  • Ensure changes to building regulations resulting in construction of affordable housing.
  • Guarantee sufficient funding for Section 8 rental housing to end occupancy waiting periods.
  • Protect the rights of renters.
  • Reduce the red tape and multiple application forms required to obtain subsidized housing from the Vermont Housing Authority.

Housing

Progressives believe a safe, stable and affordable place to Iive is the birthright of every Vermonter." “We will work to:

  • End homelessness by providing safe, stable and affordable housing, rent subsidies and supportive services to all who desire and need them.
  • Facilitate the creation of affordable housing by easing building and land use regulations without compromising safety, smart growth principles, or the livability of existing neighborhoods.
  • Reverse federal cutbacks and increase funding for affordable housing, including Section 8, Community Development Block Grants, Public Housing, and the HOME program, among others.
  • Maintain the balance between the rights and responsibilities of renters and landlords.”
  • Make it easier to apply for subsidized housing by instituting a universal, online application form.
  • Increase the state's supply of affordable housing by providing full statutory funding for the Vermont Housing and Conservation Trust Fund.
  • Preserve existing subsidized housing when current subsidies expire or the owner decides to sell or otherwise end its affordability.
  • Create a statewide system for ensuring basic minimum standards of safety and habitability in the state’s rental housing.”

Public Participation

Progressives believe that progress in the face of multi-billion dollar corporate interests requires serious participation by people in our communities, workplaces, and schools between elections. We will work to:

  • Organize events in our communities and at the State House to bring out the voices of the people.
  • Support town meeting initiatives on vital issues.
  • Build coalitions with community, religious, business, union, and student organizations to support legislative initiatives.

Public Participation

Progressives believe that beyond electoral politics, a citizenry active in our communities and state is necessary to combat the increasing undue influence of corporate interests and money on our democracy. We will work to:

  • Encourage events in our communities and at the State House to bring out the voices of the people.
  • Preserve and strengthen local participation in Town Meeting Day and local decision-making on local/regional issues. .
  • Advocate for Town Meeting Day to be a state holiday to encourage local civic participation.
  • Encourage participatory budgeting and an assessment of people’s needs on a local and state level to empower citizens to be involved in the financial decision making by government.
  • Ensure all residents, regardless of citizenship status, have an effective voice in decisions that affect them in their communities and the state.

Military

Progressives believe that, although a well-trained military is necessary for national defense, military expenditures must be weighed in the context of domestic priorities. We will work to:

  • End the occupation of Iraq and the on-going military commitment in Afghanistan/Pakistan.
  • Support all proceedings to hold accountable any violators of the U.S. Constitution, international laws, and/or treaties.
  • Restrict Vermont National Guard troops from assignment to war zones.
  • Prohibit the use of torture.
  • Oppose preemptive war.
  • Support non-military initiatives and policies to resolve international conflict.
  • Ensure Vermont’s veterans receive medical, emotional, and financial support according to their service-related disability.

Military

Progressives believe that, although a well-trained military is necessary for national defense, military expenditures must be weighed in the context of domestic priorities. We will work to:

  • End all on-going military commitments in Afghanistan/Pakistan.
  • Support all proceedings to hold accountable any violators of the U.S. Constitution, international laws, and/or treaties.
  • Restrict Vermont National Guard troops from assignment to war zones.
  • Oppose preemptive war.
  • Support non-military initiatives and policies to resolve international conflict.
  • Ensure Vermont’s veterans receive medical, emotional, and financial support according to their service-related disability.

Energy

Progressives believe Vermont can develop safe, secure, and stable energy sources. We will work to:

  • Decommission Vermont Yankee safely with funds entirely provided by the plant owner (i.e., Entergy).
  • Promote investments and job development in energy conservation and weatherization programs.
  • Promote the creation of safe, clean, renewable, and locally owned power generation that includes solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, biomass, and on-farm sources.
  • Use a fossil-fuel tax to fund research, development, and infrastructure that supports clean energy.

Energy

Progressives believe Vermont can develop safe, secure, and stable energy sources. We will work to:

  • Decommission Vermont Yankee safely with funds entirely provided by the plant owner (i.e., Entergy), and with a just transition for affected employees and communities.
  • Promote investments and job development in energy conservation and weatherization programs.
  • Promote the use of safe, clean, renewable, publically, and locally owned energy resources.
  • Take positive and effective steps to significantly reduce, and ultimately eliminate, fossil fuel use.

Transportation

Progressives believe Vermont’s transportation system is essential to developing a vibrant statewide economy and quality of life. We will work to:

  • Place a moratorium on all new major highway construction until the repair backlog (including bridges) is fulfilled.
  • Support development, improvement, and access to public transportation including buses, light rail, van service, and Amtrak.
  • Introduce transportation and land-use planning with incentives that promote livable, walkable access to and within communities.

Transportation

Progressives believe Vermont’s transportation system is essential to a vibrant statewide economy and quality of life. Progressives understand that transportation is one of the main contributors to carbon emissions and that climate change adds new challenges to our transportation infrastructure. We will work to:

  • Place a moratorium on all new major highway construction and focus on repair backlogs and improving the resilience of our existing infrastructure.
  • Support development, improvement, and access to a comprehensive public mass transportation system including bicycles, light rail, Amtrak, buses and van services.
  • Introduce transportation and land-use planning with incentives that promote walkable and bikeable access between and within communities.
  • Promote modes of transportation which reduce carbon emissions and implement incentives to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Taxes

Progressives believe that taxes are essential to funding our social and economic needs, but should be based on one’s ability to pay. We will work to:

  • Eliminate Vermont’s Capital Gains Tax Exemption, and tax investment income at the same rate as workers’ income.
  • Reduce and remove the residential property tax as the funding base for education.
  • Revise Vermont's combined reporting corporate tax law to include overseas business organizations.

Taxes

Progressives believe that taxes are essential to funding our social and economic needs and should be generally based on one’s ability to pay. We will work to:

  • Eliminate Vermont’s capital gains tax exemption, and tax investment and unearned income at the same rate as low to moderately income households..
  • Remove or significantly reduce Vermont’s education funding system reliance on residential property tax and find more a more progressive based revenue stream. Maintain property tax on industrial, commercial, and vacation homes as a source of revenue for education and other state services.
  • Require overseas businesses with Vermont ties to pay the same corporate taxes as in-state businesses.
  • Adopt a progressive income tax system where wealthier Vermonters, especially the top 5% wealthiest Vermonters, pay a higher percentage of tax on their income than low to moderately income Vermonters.

Government Reform

Progressives believe government should work for the people, stripped of wasteful bureaucracies. Progressives will insist on fair, accountable, and representative elections. We will work to:

  • Prohibit the use of all proprietary-code paperless-trail voting machines.
  • Ensure government accountability to taxpayers for taxpayer dollars.
  • Institute Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) for state and local elections.
  • Institute public funding of election campaigns.
  • End unlimited donor contributions to and by political parties.
  • Support term limits for all elected positions from Selectman to U.S. Senator.
  • Create stricter lobbying laws to close the revolving door between government and industry.

Government Reform

Progressives believe government should work for the people, not corporate interests, and it should do so transparently, and accessibly, without wasteful bureaucracy. Progressives insist on fair, accountable, and representative elections. We will work to:

  • Prohibit the use of any proprietary-code or paper-trail-less voting machines and insure all elections are transparently audited to ensure accurate results.
  • Ensure government accountability to taxpayers for taxpayer dollars.
  • Institute Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), or other system of proportional voting, for state and local elections.
  • Enhance campaign finance laws, to provide public financing for all elected positions, strictly limit or eliminate campaign contributions from corporations, PACs and political parties and reverse the doctrine of “corporate personhood”.
  • Close the revolving door between government and industry, by implementing strict ethics laws which transparently hold lobbyists and public officials accountable, and which place a buffer between when a lobbyist can run for office, or an elected official can lobby their former colleagues.

 

 

2014 VPP Platform Proposed Amendments

PREAMBLE: The Vermont Progressive Party offers this platform to preserve and sustain democracy, guarantee inalienable rights, and promote the general welfare of the citizens of the State of Vermont.

 

CURRENT

PLATFORM COMMITTEE PROPOSAL

Healthcare

Progressives believe health care is a human right, and support single-payer health care, birth to death, free of private corporate interests (insurance companies), provided through a nonprofit, publicly financed system. We will work to:

  • Implement full-spectrum single-payer health care, including preventive and mental health care.
  • Establish community health centers to deliver medical and mental healthcare services.
  • Subsidize medical school tuition at UVM for students who agree to practice in Vermont after graduation.

Health Care

Progressives believe health care is a human right, and support universal, single-payer health care, birth to death, free of private corporate interests (insurance companies), provided through a nonprofit, publicly financed system. We will work to:

  • Implement a comprehensive, full-spectrum single-payer health care system, including dental, vision, hearing, preventive and mental health care as well as providing coverage for proven alternatives to western medicine such as acupuncture, naturopathic, and chiropractic treatments.
  • Establish Community Health Centers to deliver medical and mental health care services throughout the state.
  • Subsidize medical school tuition at UVM for students in underrepresented medical fields, who agree to remain and practice in Vermont Community Health Centers after graduation.

Education

Progressives believe public education is the essential and most inclusive institution in our communities, offering opportunities for all to participate. We will work to:

  • Promote a public education system, Pre-K–12, that provides equal and equitable opportunities for all our children.
  • Replace the residential education property tax with a progressive income tax.
  • Increase the State of Vermont’s share of special-education funding and improve the quality of services offered.
  • Reduce postsecondary tuition costs for Vermonters; include free housing at Vermont state colleges for Vermont students.
  • Repeal the Federal No Child Left Behind Act with its excessive emphasis on standardized testing.
  • Oppose voucher programs, which undercut public education.
  • Support educator efforts at fair, constructive, and comprehensive evaluation and review.

Education

Progressives believe The VPP believes that a strong public education educational system is the essential and most inclusive institution in our communities, offering opportunities for all to participate an essential foundation to citizen participation in a democratic society. We The VPP will work to:

  • Promote public education system, Pre-K through college that provides equal and equitable comprehensive opportunities for all our children abilities levels.
  • Replace or to supplement the residential education property tax system with a progressive an income based tax and other progressive forms of taxation such as a wealth tax.
  • Increase the State of Vermont’s the federal and state share of special education funding and improve the quality of services offered through increased local professional and parental control.
  • Reduce post secondary tuition cost for Vermonters include free housing at Vermont state colleges for Vermont students attending state schools with programs such as “pay it forward” and the Collegiate High School programs. The long -term goal of the VPP is a tuition-free college education for Vermonters at state schools.
  • Repeal the Federal No Child Left Behind Act with its excessive emphasis on standardized testing.
  • Oppose voucher programs, which undercut public education.
  • Oppose ongoing federal and state efforts to undermine public schools through high stakes testing standardized curriculum, vouchers and charter schools.
  • Support educator efforts at fair, constructive, and comprehensive evaluation and review. Enable teachers to exercise more influence on the quality of education via greater respect for the contract negotiating process, school governance, and curriculum design and implementation.

Criminal Justice

Progressives are committed to public safety. We will work to:

  • Invest in prevention and anti violence programs.
  • Discontinue the failed “war on drugs.”
  • Fund drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs.
  • Limit incarceration to offenders who pose a threat to public safety.
  • Create effective penalties against driving under the influence to ensure public safety.
  • Work to provide in-state placements and treatment (rather than out-of-state).
  • Advocate for vocational and workplace training for offenders and youth at risk.
  • Provide education and literacy support in all corrections settings.

Criminal Justice

Progressives are The VPP is committed to public safety a criminal justice system that balances an individual’s legal rights in the criminal justice system and the public’s right to safety. We The VPP will work to:

  • Invest in Increase federal and state investment in school and community-based prevention and anti-violence programs rehabilitation initiatives in such areas as drug and alcohol issues, conflict resolution and mental health concerns.
  • Discontinue the failed “war on drugs.”
  • Fund Increase federal and state funding for drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs with an emphasis on an individual’s dignity and public’s safety.
  • Limit incarceration to offenders who pose a threat to public safety. Reduce incarceration rates by: supporting alternative means of punishment and rehabilitation strategies such as Restorative Justice programs; establishing a rational sentencing structure making the punishment fit the crime; and accelerating the parole process for nonviolent offenders.
  • Create effective penalties against driving under the influence to ensure public safety.
  • Work to provide in-state placements and treatment (rather than out-of-state). Keep Vermont offenders in our state correction facilities and out of “for-profit” institutions.
  • Advocate for vocational and workplace training for offenders and youth at risk. Increase educational opportunities for people in the correctional system so as to foster rehabilitation over punishment to establish literacy, secondary and post-secondary, vocational and workplace training programs.
  • Provide education and literacy support in all corrections settings.
  • Create a state Citizen’s Oversight Committee for the Vermont Department of Corrections.
  • Develop effective state gun control measures, such as universal background checks, safe storage regulations and an end to the violent felon loophole. The VPP views the issues of gun violence as both a criminal and health issue for Vermonters.

Civil Rights

Progressives will preserve Vermont’s national leadership as a champion of civil rights, in the tradition of Vermont’s history as the first state to outlaw slavery. Progressives believe our right to personal privacy, guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution, is unconditional. We will work to:

  • Support marriage equity for same-sex couples.
  • Ensure women’s rights to control their bodies and their choices.
  • Establish a Zero-Tolerance standard statewide toward all forms of discrimination and harassment (e.g., sexual) in schools and workplaces.
  • Protect the confidentiality of commercial transactions and medical information.
  • Restrict the ability of the state, cities, and towns to eavesdrop on private citizens.

Civil Rights

Progressives will preserve Vermont’s national leadership as a believe that Vermont should continue to lead the nation as a champion of civil rights, in the tradition of Vermont’s history as the first state to outlaw slavery. Progressives believe that our right to personal privacy, guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution, is unconditional rights, which are laid out in the Vermont and U.S. Constitutions, are unconditional and must be protected equally for all people, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, economic status, nationality, immigration status or any other discriminatory reason. We Progressives will work to:

  • Support marriage equity for same-sex couples.
  • Ensure women’s rights an individual’s right to control their bodies and their medical choices with complete confidentiality.
  • Establish a statewide Zero-Tolerance standard statewide toward all forms of discrimination and harassment (e.g., sexual) in public places, schools and workplaces.
  • Protect the confidentiality of commercial transactions and medical information
  • Restrict the ability of the state, cities, and towns to eavesdrop on private citizens.
  • Ensure that control of each person’s private information and communications remains with that individual, and that state and local governments may not access, monitor or eavesdrop on these protected personal effects without due process.

Economy

Progressives believe that a vibrant and sustainable economy is one that recognizes preeminence of the “quality of life” concept and insists on a decent standard of living for all Vermonters. We will work to:

  • Establish and guarantee that the minimum wage must be a livable wage.
  • Advocate for the rights of workers to unionize and require all state contracts to be awarded only to businesses that pay a livable wage.
  • Insist that Vermont contract only with responsible employers that hire local employees.
  • Require that state-funded institutions buy products and services from Vermont farms and businesses wherever feasible.
  • Promote cooperative, worker-owned, and publicly owned enterprises as an alternative to huge profit-driven multinational corporations.
  • Calculate the economic impact resulting from the degradation of Vermont’s natural resources when evaluating the state’s economic development.
  • Change from Gross Domestic Product to another measure such as the Genuine Progress Indicator or Gross National Happiness indicator.
  • Fight to reverse the doctrine of “corporate personhood.”
  • Guarantee employment opportunity at a living wage to all working-age Vermonters.

Economy

Progressives believe that a strong, local economy is the foundation to a vibrant and sustainable is one that recognizes preeminence of the future that promotes a high quality of life concept and insists on a decent standard of living for all Vermonters. We will work to:

  • Establish and guarantee that all working age Vermonters are afforded the opportunity for full time employment which provides a living the minimum wage must be a livable wage.
  • Advocate for the rights of workers to unionize. and require all state contracts to be awarded only to businesses that pay a livable wage.
  • Insist that Vermont contract only with responsible employers that hire local employees pay a livable wage.
  • Require that state-funded institutions buy products and services from Vermont farms and businesses wherever feasible.
  • Promote cooperatives, worker-owned businesses, public benefit corporations and publicly owned enterprises as alternatives to huge profit-driven multinational corporations.
  • Calculate the economic impact resulting from the degradation of Vermont’s natural resources when evaluating the state’s economic development.
  • Change from the sole reliance on Gross Domestic Product to another measure include other metrics, such as the Genuine Progress Indicator, to factor in social and environmental costs when evaluating our state’s economic development.
  • Fight to reverse the doctrine of “corporate personhood.”
  • Guarantee employment opportunity at a living wage to all working-age Vermonters.
  • Establish a publicly owned state bank, which would invest state monies into our local economy, instead of Wall Street banks.

Environment

Progressives believe that Vermont’s natural environment is the foundation of our health, quality of life, and economy. We will work to:

  • Protect our water, air, and biodiversity through strict enforcement of existing regulations, the creation of new regulations, and financial incentives that reward responsible stewardship.
  • Strengthen effective land-use planning policies (e.g., Act 250, Current Use Program) that support town centers, farming, forestry, and conservation.
  • Promote environmentally sound use of Vermont’s natural resources by supporting composting, expanding recycling, reducing hazardous waste, and restoring polluted sites to environmental health.
  • Support and develop alternative energy resources and practices, statewide mass transit, and energy-efficiency programs to combat global warming/climate change.
  • Create a carbon tax that is used for green projects/alternative energy.

Environment

Progressives believe that Vermont’s natural environment is the foundation of our health, quality of life, and economy. We appreciate the intrinsic value of nature, and understand the need to be good stewards of this treasure so future generations can enjoy the same benefits as we do. We will work to:

  • Protect our water, air, and biodiversity through strict enforcement of existing regulations, the creation of new regulations when necessary, and financial incentives that reward responsible stewardship.
  • Strengthen effective land-use planning policies (e.g., Act 250, Current Use Program) that support town centers, farming, forestry, and conservation.
  • Promote environmentally sound use of Vermont’s natural resources by supporting composting, expanding recycling, reducing hazardous waste, and restoring polluted sites to environmental health.
  • Support and develop alternative locally controlled, community scale, sustainable energy resources and practices, statewide mass transit, and energy-efficiency programs to global warming/ combat climate change, protect our diverse ecosystem, and enhance our scenic beauty.
  • Create a carbon tax that is used for green projects/alternative to develop alternatives to carbon-based energy.

Agriculture

Progressives know that agriculture, especially family farms, including timber, are essential to Vermont’s economy and cultural heritage. We will work to:

  • Support fair-trade prices for Vermont’s farmers and producers.
  • Invest in agricultural infrastructure with priority given to locally-owned, farmer-controlled enterprises such as vegetable- meat and dairy-processing plants.
  • Support farm- and community-based enterprises with policies that open new markets, including direct sales to consumers.
  • Support farmers’ transition to organic and sustainable practices.

Agriculture

Progressives know that agriculture, especially a diverse variety of small scale agricultural operations, such as family farms, including timber, orchards and woodlots, are essential to Vermont’s food security, economy and cultural heritage, while large scale agriculture tends to threaten our environment, has dubious effects on our health, and promotes a debt based economy. We will work to:

  • Support fair trade prices pricing for Vermont farmers and producers family farms, and develop farm and community based food hubs, processing centers, and other infrastructure needed to broaden the market for Vermont agricultural products, and to make locally produced food more readily available statewide.
  • Invest in agricultural infrastructure with priority given to locally-owned, farmer-controlled enterprises such as vegetable- meat and dairy-processing plants.
  • Promote and enforce agricultural regulations that will protect food safety and the environment from the risks associated with factory farms, without becoming onerous burdens to small producers.
  • Support farm- and community-based enterprises with policies that open new markets, including direct sales to consumers.
  • Promote agricultural regulations, which allow small producers to offer products that are unavailable otherwise, such as raw milk and farm slaughtered meat.
  • Support farmers’ efforts to transition to organic and sustainable, organic farming practices such as changing the laws so compost can be considered a tax exempt agricultural product and ensuring that those planting GMOs are held accountable for any damages caused by those crops or the methods needed to grow them.

Housing

Progressives believe a safe, affordable place to live is the birthright of every Vermonter. We will work to:

  • End homelessness while supporting legal, medical, and financial assistance to the homeless.
  • Ensure changes to building regulations resulting in construction of affordable housing.
  • Guarantee sufficient funding for Section 8 rental housing to end occupancy waiting periods.
  • Protect the rights of renters.
  • Reduce the red tape and multiple application forms required to obtain subsidized housing from the Vermont Housing Authority.

Housing

Progressives believe a safe, stable and affordable place to Iive is the birthright of every Vermonter. We will work to:

  • End homelessness while supporting legal, medical, and financial assistance to the homeless by providing safe, stable and affordable housing, rent subsidies and supportive services to all who desire and need them.
  • Ensure changes to building regulations resulting in construction of Facilitate the creation of affordable housing by easing building and land use regulations without compromising safety, smart growth principles, or the livability of existing neighborhoods.
  • Guarantee sufficient funding for Section 8 rental housing to end occupancy waiting periods. Reverse federal cutbacks and increase funding for affordable housing, including Section 8, Community Development Block Grants, Public Housing, and the HOME program, among others.
  • Protect the rights of renters. Maintain the balance between the rights and responsibilities of renters and landlords.
  • Reduce the red tape and multiple application forms required to obtain subsidized housing from the Vermont Housing Authority. Make it easier to apply for subsidized housing by instituting a universal, online application form.
  • Increase the state's supply of affordable housing by providing full statutory funding for the Vermont Housing and Conservation Trust Fund.
  • Preserve existing subsidized housing when current subsidies expire or the owner decides to sell or otherwise end its affordability.
  • Create a statewide system for ensuring basic minimum standards of safety and habitability in the state’s rental housing.

Public Participation

Progressives believe that progress in the face of multi-billion dollar corporate interests requires serious participation by people in our communities, workplaces, and schools between elections. We will work to:

  • Organize events in our communities and at the State House to bring out the voices of the people.
  • Support town meeting initiatives on vital issues.
  • Build coalitions with community, religious, business, union, and student organizations to support legislative initiatives.

Public Participation

Progressives believe that progress in the face of multi-billion dollar corporate interests requires serious participation by people in our communities, workplaces, and schools between elections beyond electoral politics, a citizenry active in our communities and state is necessary to combat the increasing undue influence of corporate interests and money on our democracy. We will work to:

  • Organize Encourage events in our communities and at the State House to bring out the voices of the people.
  • Support town meeting initiatives on vital issues. Preserve and strengthen local participation in Town Meeting Day and local decision-making on local/regional issues. .
  • Advocate for Town Meeting Day to be a state holiday to encourage local civic participation.
  • Build coalitions with community, religious, business, union, and student organizations to support legislative initiatives.
  • Encourage participatory budgeting and an assessment of people’s needs on a local and state level to empower citizens to be involved in the financial decision making by government.
  • Ensure all residents, regardless of citizenship status, have an effective voice in decisions that affect them in their communities and the state.

Military

Progressives believe that, although a well-trained military is necessary for national defense, military expenditures must be weighed in the context of domestic priorities. We will work to:

  • End the occupation of Iraq and the on-going military commitment in Afghanistan/Pakistan.
  • Support all proceedings to hold accountable any violators of the U.S. Constitution, international laws, and/or treaties.
  • Restrict Vermont National Guard troops from assignment to war zones.
  • Prohibit the use of torture.
  • Oppose preemptive war.
  • Support non-military initiatives and policies to resolve international conflict.
  • Ensure Vermont’s veterans receive medical, emotional, and financial support according to their service-related disability.

Military

Progressives believe that, although a well-trained military is necessary for national defense, military expenditures must be weighed in the context of domestic priorities. We will work to:

  • End the occupation of Iraq and all on-going military commitments in Afghanistan/Pakistan.
  • Support all proceedings to hold accountable any violators of the U.S. Constitution, international laws, and/or treaties.
  • Restrict Vermont National Guard troops from assignment to war zones.
  • Prohibit the use of torture.
  • Oppose preemptive war.
  • Support non-military initiatives and policies to resolve international conflict.
  • Ensure Vermont’s veterans receive medical, emotional, and financial support according to their service-related disability.

Energy

Progressives believe Vermont can develop safe, secure, and stable energy sources. We will work to:

  • Decommission Vermont Yankee safely with funds entirely provided by the plant owner (i.e., Entergy).
  • Promote investments and job development in energy conservation and weatherization programs.
  • Promote the creation of safe, clean, renewable, and locally owned power generation that includes solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, biomass, and on-farm sources.
  • Use a fossil-fuel tax to fund research, development, and infrastructure that supports clean energy.

Energy

Progressives believe Vermont can develop safe, secure, and stable energy sources. We will work to:

  • Decommission Vermont Yankee safely with funds entirely provided by the plant owner (i.e., Entergy), and with a just transition for affected employees and communities.
  • Promote investments and job development in energy conservation and weatherization programs.
  • Promote the use of safe, clean, renewable, publically, and locally owned power generation that includes solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, biomass, and on-farm sources energy resources.
  • Use a fossil-fuel tax to fund research, development, and infrastructure that supports clean energy.
  • Take positive and effective steps to significantly reduce, and ultimately eliminate, fossil fuel use.

Transportation

Progressives believe Vermont’s transportation system is essential to developing a vibrant statewide economy and quality of life. We will work to:

  • Place a moratorium on all new major highway construction until the repair backlog (including bridges) is fulfilled.
  • Support development, improvement, and access to public transportation including buses, light rail, van service, and Amtrak.
  • Introduce transportation and land-use planning with incentives that promote livable, walkable access to and within communities.

Transportation

Progressives believe Vermont’s transportation system is essential to developing a vibrant statewide economy and quality of life. Progressives understand that transportation is one of the main contributors to carbon emissions and that climate change adds new challenges to our transportation infrastructure. We will work to:

  • Place a moratorium on all new major highway construction until the repair and focus on repair backlogs (including bridges) and improving the resilience of our existing infrastructure.
  • Support development, improvement, and access to a comprehensive public mass transportation system including bicycles, light rail, Amtrak, buses and van services.
  • Introduce transportation and land-use planning with incentives that promote livable, walkable and bikeable access to between and within communities.
  • Promote modes of transportation which reduce carbon emissions and implement incentives to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Taxes

Progressives believe that taxes are essential to funding our social and economic needs, but should be based on one’s ability to pay. We will work to:

  • Eliminate Vermont’s Capital Gains Tax Exemption, and tax investment income at the same rate as workers’ income.
  • Reduce and remove the residential property tax as the funding base for education.
  • Revise Vermont's combined reporting corporate tax law to include overseas business organizations.

Taxes

Progressives believe that taxes are essential to funding our social and economic needs and should be generally based on one’s ability to pay. We will work to:

  • Eliminate Vermont’s capital gains tax exemption, and tax investment and unearned income at the same rate as workers’ income low to moderately income households.
  • Reduce and Remove or significantly reduce Vermont’s education funding system reliance on residential property tax and find more a more progressive based revenue stream. Maintain property tax on industrial, commercial, and vacation homes as a source of revenue for education and other state services.
  • Revise Vermont’s combined reporting corporate tax law to include overseas business organizations. Require overseas businesses with Vermont ties to pay the same corporate taxes as in-state businesses.
  • Adopt a progressive income tax system where wealthier Vermonters, especially the top 5% wealthiest Vermonters, pay a higher percentage of tax on their income than low to moderately income Vermonters.

Government Reform

Progressives believe government should work for the people, stripped of wasteful bureaucracies. Progressives will insist on fair, accountable, and representative elections. We will work to:

  • Prohibit the use of all proprietary-code paperless-trail voting machines.
  • Ensure government accountability to taxpayers for taxpayer dollars.
  • Institute Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) for state and local elections.
  • Institute public funding of election campaigns.
  • End unlimited donor contributions to and by political parties.
  • Support term limits for all elected positions from Selectman to U.S. Senator.
  • Create stricter lobbying laws to close the revolving door between government and industry.

Government Reform

Progressives believe government should work for the people, stripped not corporate interests, and it should do so transparently, and accessibly, without wasteful bureaucracy. Progressives will insist on fair, accountable, and representative elections. We will work to:

  • Prohibit the use of any proprietary-code or paper-trail-less voting machines and insure all elections are transparently audited to ensure accurate results.
  • Ensure government accountability to taxpayers for taxpayer dollars.
  • Institute Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), or other system of proportional voting, for state and local elections.
  • Institute public funding of election campaigns. Enhance campaign finance laws, to provide public financing for all elected positions, strictly limit or eliminate campaign contributions from corporations, PACs and political parties and reverse the doctrine of “corporate personhood”.
  • Support term limits for all elected positions from Selectman to U.S. Senator.
  • Create stricter lobbying laws to Close the revolving door between government and industry, by implementing strict ethics laws which transparently hold lobbyists and public officials accountable, and which place a buffer between when a lobbyist can run for office, or an elected official can lobby their former colleagues.

 

 

Syndicate content