Press Release

Tea Party Tactics Have No Place in Vermont

As many of you have heard by now, Vermont Republicans are lying to our seniors about Medicare. Yesterday voters in Addison and Rutland counties received mailings that claimed Progressive and Democratic candidates running for House plan to take away Medicare. Not only is this completely untrue, it's not even possible: Medicare is a federal program administered by the federal government-- state representatives don't make decisions about it.


So let's set the record straight, shall we?


Vermont seniors will NOT lose their Medicare benefits when we transition to a single-payer healthcare system (or as we like to call it, "Medicare for all!"). Medicare is the most successful universal healthcare program in our country-- we want to expand this access to more people, not take it away! We believe that everyone should have access to affordable, high-quality healthcare as a human right. Progressives are committed to making sure our single-payer system will be funded equitably (not on the backs of poor people, working people, and seniors on fixed incomes).    


It's very clear this mailer is a last-minute scare tactic straight out of the Tea Party play-book (no doubt funded by out-of-state, corporate money from sources like American Reynolds and Koch Industries). It's dirty politicking, and it's NOT how we do things here in Vermont.

Help us stand up against the influence of Tea Party dollars in our state elections:

1. Please get out and vote on Tuesday! Polls are open from 7am-7pm.

2. Make a donation so we can continue to fight on behalf of Vermont's working families! The Progressive Party doesn't accept corporate contributions (never have, never will) because we're tired of big money running elections in this country. We survive on your dollars and cents. Please contribute today.

 


Paid for by the Vermont Progressive Party and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

Press Release: Progressive Party Statement on Burlington City Progressive Caucus

On Sunday evening, over fifty Burlington Progressives gathered at the East Avenue Co-housing to endorse candidates for the 2014 Town Meeting Day election.  In addition to endorsing candidates, those gathered heard about March ballot items, redistricting, Moran Plant redevelopment, and more from currently elected Burlington Progressive City Councilors Vince Brennan, Jane Knodell, Rachel Siegel, and Max Tracy.

Burlington Progressives then broke into Ward Caucuses to discuss and vote on endorsements.  The Ward 1 Caucus endorsed Selene Colburn for City Council and Emma Rosenzweig for Inspector of Elections.  The Ward 2 Caucus endorsed Max Tracy for City Council and Wendy Coe for Ward Clerk.  The Ward 3 Caucus endorsed Rachel Siegel for City Council.

Burlington City Progressive Party Chair Kyle Silliman-Smith had this to say:

“Progressives in Burlington are excited and ready to once again expand our numbers on the Burlington City Council this March. Councilors Max Tracy in Ward 2 and Rachel Siegel in Ward 3, along with Ward 1 Council candidate Selene Colburn, received the overwhelming support of their Ward Caucuses tonight because they truly represent the values of the Progressive Party and of the people of Burlington.  Clearly the future is bright for both the party and the city with such great candidates to represent us.”

Press Release: Oversight of State cell phones is deficient, resulting in under-utilization & opportunities for savings

MONTPELIER, VT – A new report from the State Auditor’s Office finds problems with the State’s purchasing and oversight of cell-phone services. State Auditor Doug Hoffer said, “The State’s current system is decentralized and does not have consistent policies and procedures to ensure that resources are optimized. As a result, we found potential savings of almost $300,000.”

The report notes that the Department of Buildings and General Services contracts with cell phone providers on behalf of all State agencies. However, decisions related to cell phone purchases and management of their use are handled by individual State entities, meaning there is no central responsibility to track utilization and total spending. The objectives of the audit were to determine 1) whether State-issued cell phones are underutilized and 2) if State agencies and departments could reduce their costs for State-issued cell phones.

In 2012, charges for 3,080 state-issued cell phones totaled $1,646,995. After reviewing phone records, the audit team found that “9% of state-issued cell phones were not used at all and 20% had limited use.”[1]

These little used phones cost the State about $272,000.

Many State entities manage voice minutes via cell phone pools to avoid overage charges for exceeding monthly voice minute allowances.  The pools enable sharing of voice minutes among all cell phones within a pool. The State had 115 cell phone pools in 2012, and these pools purchased a total of approximately 11 million voice minutes. The audit team found that over 5.1 million minutes went unused (47% of the total).
In addition, of the 2,899 cell phones with bundled voice and data service plans, 42% used no data or less than 25,000 KB of data per month. This suggests opportunities for additional savings by switching to lower cost monthly service plans that more closely reflect actual usage (i.e., voice only). Hoffer stated that “The extent of under-utilization of the services purchased represents lax oversight and a significant waste of taxpayer money.”

The Department of Information and Innovation has a statewide policy for security of mobile devices and the Department of Human Resources has a statewide policy addressing personal use of state-owned wireless communication devices.  However, the State lacks a statewide policy that addresses other aspects of cell phone management, such as determination of criteria for business need, periodic review of usage levels, and consideration of continued business need.

Responsibility for most of the decision making relative to cell phones resides at State agencies and departments.  Based on the responses of 42 out of 45 surveyed State entities, less than half have policies or procedures for managing cell phones; only 19% had written criteria to guide decisions regarding who should be assigned a cell phone; and about 10% had written policies addressing monitoring cell phone costs.  Without consistent cell phone management practices and continuous monitoring of cell phone use, the State risks paying for cell phones and services that are not needed.

We made various recommendations to the Secretary of the Agency of Administration and the commissioners of the Department of Information and Innovation and the Department of Buildings and General Services.  Among others, these recommendations included: 1) developing statewide guidelines addressing aspects of cell phone management and 2) requiring State agencies and departments to document their policies and procedures related to cell phone management.

We are pleased to report that the Secretary of Administration agrees with our recommendations. Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding added, “We have been looking forward to the Auditor’s report and plan to use it as a springboard to establish a comprehensive statewide framework governing the purchase, acceptable usage, and management of not only cellular devices…but also statewide land use as well.”[2]

See the full report here.

________________________________________
[1] Limited use was defined as averaging less than 100 voice minutes and less than 25,000 kilobytes of data per month. This equates to five minutes of phone calls, two emails with attachments and less than two websites viewed per business day. For context, the most prevalent service plan purchased by the State is for 400 voice minutes with unlimited data usage.

[2]November 1, 2013 e-mail from Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding.

SHUMLIN'S DECISION TO SCRAP SINGLE PAYER A BETRAYAL OF VERMONT'S WORKING FAMILIES

Dec. 18, 2014

 

      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 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 he 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 possible future burdens to businesses, not the burdens that working families are bearing right now. There are significant and meaningful steps we 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 Vermonters. Anything less is a betrayal of our state'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 single payer healthcare and economic justice. Our current elected legislators remain committed to finding a path forward: We aren't 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 current political leaders have fallen down. 


 

Vermont Progressive Party Hires New Elections Director

The Vermont Progressive Party Coordinating Committee has hired Kelly Mangan of Burlington to be the Party’s new Elections Director as of July 7th, 2014.

In recent years, Mangan has worked as a labor organizer for food service workers with the United Electrical Workers (UE), helping Sodexo employees at Vermont’s higher learning institutions who wished to unionize, and has been an organizer for childcare providers with the American Federation of Teachers. She was also Field Director for Senator Bernie Sanders’ 2012 re-election campaign, leading the campaign's statewide outreach and canvassing program. In January she also added "new mom" to her list of job descriptions. 

“I want our state to be governed in the best interests of everyone, not just a wealthy few,” Mangan said. “I believe the Vermont Progressive Party is the only political party in our state that is sincerely trying to empower and engage working people around the issues that affect us. That’s why I’m eager to help elect new Progressive candidates, and to re-elect those who are fighting for us in Montpelier.”

Emma Mulvaney-Stanak, Progressive Party State Chair, says she believes Mangan’s background in union organizing is a beneficial skill set that she brings to the Party. “As an organizer, Kelly knows how important it is to develop leadership potential in others. I’m excited to work with her as our Party continues to grow,” she said.

Former Party Director Robert Millar resigned in June to run for State Representative for the Chittenden 6-7 district. Mangan said: “Robert is a knowledgeable and extremely qualified candidate for State Rep. I’m excited about his race and very happy to be working to support him and all the other great Progressive candidates around the state.”

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