Reality Check #1: Vermont faces grave challenges in managing COVID-19 and a recession at the same time. There is such uncertainty about the future that we will need to develop plans for different scenarios depending on how conditions unfold.
Reality Check #2: I am the only candidate for one of the two seats of the Bennington 4 district who has the knowledge and skills to make a useful contribution to solving these problems. I have a degree in economics. I have a solid understanding of the tax system and state spending. We will need to develop policies that are both creative and reliable. I have the capacity to contribute to the development of such policies, and also the ability to evaluate the proposals of others critically.
Reality Check #3: I have served in Montpelier for 14 years. During that time we have reduced the number of Vermonters without health insurance. We have reformed the income tax system. We have strengthened state finances by reducing reliance on one-time funds and building up our reserves. We recovered from the recession of 2008-2009. We rebuilt from Tropical Storm Irene. We have increased our energy efficiency and conservation and our use of renewable energy. We have intensified our efforts to keep our lakes and rivers clean. We have used state funds to support affordable housing and municipal water and sewer systems. We have raised the minimum wage every year since 2015. We have provided a voluntary retirement program to workers who do not have one with their employers.
Reality Check #4: I have been part of all of this progress. I have been there supporting, criticizing, opposing, and working with others to make policies more effective by ensuring that they are based on reality so that they will really work for Vermonters.
Reality Check #5: But in all these areas we have much more work left to do. We also have the continuing unresolved problems like the need for education finance reform for quality education while controlling property taxes and the need for expanded broadband connectivity. The combination of the COVID19 public health crisis with a deep recession intensifies the effects of these problems and creates new ones. Of central importance will be how to build a state budget next year that can serve Vermonters effectively and equitably in a time of limited resources.
Reality Check #6: Too often state policies are based primarily on politics, ideology, wishful thinking and special interests. Often legislators are angling to make political opponents look bad, or to advance in the legislative hierarchy, and worrying about the next election more than about what is best for Vermonters. This is why we have not made MORE progress in solving our problems, and why legislators who are principled and pragmatic are an essential component of the legislative process. This is a time when Vermonters need legislators with knowledge and experience. This is a time for legislators with the critical skills necessary to evaluate proposals and the courage and independence to advocate for policies that will really work because they are based on reality, not political rhetoric. I treasure my constituents, I don't worship House leadership.
Reality Check #7: I ask for your vote for one of the two seats representing Arlington, Manchester, Sandgate, and Sunderland. If re-elected I will do everything I can to justify your faith in me. For more information contact me at email@example.com or at 802.375.9019 or visit my website at www.cynthiabrowning.com or on Facebook.
Cynthia Browning, a Democrat, represents the Bennington-4 district in the Vermont House. She lives in Arlington.