Charlie's Responses to the Vermont Press Bureau

What do you think are the biggest issues facing Vermont? 

School funding and governance. 
Sustainability of the Vermont economy.
Development of workforce skills.
Affordability of living in Vermont.
Health care financing and administration.

What priorities will you have as a House representative?

Representing the interests of my constituents and ensuring that Vermont has a strong, economic future for the next 20-30 years that raises the standard of living for all residents.     

Where do you stand on: education and school consolidation?

A quality education system is vital to the health and welfare of Vermont and its communities. We need to ensure that our K-12 public schools adequately prepare students for the increasingly connected world from both an academic and vocational perspective. 

The legislature has debated the best way to structure and finance K-12 education for more than 40 years.  

Act 46 requires school districts to consolidate in the name of improving education and to lower overall costs, with the very real outcome of having schools consolidate.  It is a complex issue that needs to be carefully considered in each community.  

Long term, reducing our current education costs to a sustainable level requires school consolidation.  That is very difficult in a district like Reading where the school is the heart of the community.  I would support ways to keep pre-K – 3rd schools open in those communities, provided they can keep their costs to the regional average and still maintain quality programs for their students.

Where do you stand on: the heroin epidemic/addiction?

Addictions to heroin, fentanyl, crack cocaine, prescription drugs and other opioids are tragic, the reasons for the addictions are many.  To keep people from developing addictions we need to do more to educate parents and children and create opportunities to gain skills needed for good paying jobs.  For those already addicted, we need to expand the number of treatment courts in Vermont so that people can get the help they need quickly in order to recover.  

Where do you stand on: marijuana?

Vermont has already recognized that smoking marijuana is not a criminal act.  I agree; we shouldn’t be sending people to jail because they smoke marijuana.  But we should not be promoting its use, either, much as we should not be promoting the use of tobacco or alcohol. Legalization is not the same as promotion, but it is a fine line we walk.  I would be willing to consider reasonable proposals for the legalization of marijuana, but would reject any proposal that would result in an increase in use,  particularly among adolescents, or would jeopardize the health and safety of Vermonters.   

Where do you stand on: gun rights?

Like many Vermonters, I took my hunter safety course in my early teens so that I could join my family and friends hunting deer and fowl.  I respect the tradition and the sensible way that Vermonters manage their firearms.  It is reasonable to require a gun purchaser to demonstrate that they know how to safely use a firearm and that they don’t have a violent record.  I support universal background checks in the purchase of firearms.  

Finally, what can be done to improve Vermont's economy?

Vermont is already a strong brand and attracts people to visit.  We need to do a better job of convincing those visitors that this is a great place to live and do business.    

Develop the Workforce:  Vermont has a low unemployment rate of 3.1%, with many employers struggling to fill positions, though many workers are underemployed or overjobbed.  We need to do more to develop a skilled workforce in our vocational and technical schools so that Vermonters can find meaningful, well-paying work, and employers can find a reliable, talented workforce.  

Ensure that Vermont has reasonable and predictable tax rates and regulations.  Growing businesses compare the costs and ease of doing business in different locations and Vermont does not compare well currently.   

Provide world class telecommunications infrastructure.  We need to bring hi speed internet and good cell phone coverage to all areas of the state.       

Reform the tax structure:  The combination of income taxes, property taxes, estate taxes and state fees make Vermont very expensive and encourage people to consider living elsewhere.