S.23 proposes to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2024. This will make a big difference in many Vermonters’ lives.
Can businesses really afford to raise wages?
Powerful corporations are reaping the profits as they keep a cap on wages and eliminate benefits, turning full-time jobs into part-time jobs. They bully working people, claiming that jobs disappear when wages go up. But numerous studies – based on real minimum wage increases – show that increases in the minimum wage will not cause employers to eliminate jobs. Instead, it gives employees more money to spend, which increases consumer demand, and that will create more jobs.
Raising the minimum wage will actually help businesses, by decreasing employee turnover as employees maintain healthier and happier lives. Small businesses will save money associated with training and recruiting new employees. In 2014, the state with one of the nation’s highest minimum wages—Washington State—also topped most of the lists for small business job growth.
A higher minimum wage will attract new residents to Vermont, creating new consumer markets and giving a boost to the economy.
Won’t low income people lose their benefits if we raise their wages?
This is why we’re also working to expand Vermont’s Earned Income Tax Credit and to smooth the “benefits trough,” so that families will really be able to enjoy the benefits of raising the minimum wage.
How much does it really cost to live in Vermont?
The Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator shows that a single, childless adult, working full-time year-round, would have to earn $19.51/hour in Orleans County to achieve a modest standard of living. Orleans County is the most “affordable” county in Vermont. At the other end, similar Grand Isle County workers would need to earn $23.14/hour. The Family Budget Calculator includes expenses such as transportation, prevailing housing costs, and self-insured health care costs that are not included in the Vermont livable wage basic needs budget.
Who does low-wage work?
• Vermont’s poverty rate is on the rise and is currently at 11.3%.
• There are more than 26,800 children in Vermont with at least one adult in their household – a parent, grandparent, caretaker, or adult sibling – who would benefit from raising the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2024.
• Of Vermonters earning less than $15/hour, 58% are women.
• Nearly half of all Vermonters in low-wage jobs have some level of college education, and more than 86% have a high school diploma.
• 62% of those who would be affected by a $15 minimum wage are older than 25.
• Vermonters earning low wages work in food related service, retail and health/personal care.
• Gradually increasing the minimum wage would boost incomes for almost 100,000 Vermonters, boosting our economy and building stronger communities.
Let’s stand for Vermonters and support a raise in the minimum wage!
According to Mitzi Johnson, Vermont Speaker of the House, “this bill aims to make childcare more accessible and affordable for Vermont families by placing the retention and professional development of childcare professionals as a top priority.”
H.531 invests $10.5 million in Vermont’s childcare and early learning system. It includes:
• increased reimbursement rates to childcare providers
• a student loan program for early educators to further their professional development
• investments in revamping the Child Care Financial Assistance Program (CCFAP).
For more information, see this handout.
Policies like this make Vermont a more attractive state to live, work, and raise a family. According to Ann Pugh, Chair of the House Committee on Human Services, “the difficulties associated with funding child care can result in young families delaying having children or deciding not to have children at all. This bill aims to ensure that Vermont’s children are safe and that caregivers are receiving adequate compensation with the opportunity to further their education. High quality childcare will shape Vermont’s next generation and grow our economy.”
Let’s invest in our futures!
To market Vermont as a place where employees can work remotely, Vermonters must have reliable internet access. Vermonters across the state, especially in rural communities, benefit when they can tap into the commerce, educational opportunities, and resources available on the web.
H.513 Broadband Expansion Bill invests $1.5 million in Fiscal year 2020 into three areas of need:
• The Broadband Innovation Grant Program
• Connectivity Initiative grants
• Increased funding for the Department of Public Service.
These investments target the 17,000 Vermont households that lack access to the most basic internet service.
This investment will boost Vermont’s economy and improve Vermonters’ quality of life!
Helping low-income Vermonters weatherize their homes is good for our economy and our way of life. H.439 generates the money to do this by asking higher income Vermonters to pay a mere average of $2/month to invest in low-income weatherization. This plan will provide the best bang for the buck and boost Vermont’s economy, while saving lives.
H.439 Will Improve the Health of Vulnerable Vermonters
In a recent report, the Vermont Dept. of Health estimated that
weatherizing 2,000 low-income homes in Vermont would help prevent an estimated
223 emergency department visits, 13 hospitalizations, and 0.5 deaths over a 10-year
period, associated with reduced health impacts caused by asthma, cold and heat.
They also estimated the 10-year value of energy and health benefits from
weatherization to be at least $24,757 per household, or about three times the
Vermonters with limited incomes can least afford the costs of
inefficient homes and volatile fossil fuel prices. They stand to gain the most
– in savings and health – from this crucial program.
Currently Vermont invests approximately $10 million in state
funds annually to weatherize about 900 vulnerable Vermonters’ homes. This cost,
approximately $8,500 per home, achieves an approximate 29% energy savings per
home (average $500/year) and lowers greenhouse emissions by about 1.8 tons per
Weatherization can help reduce low income Vermonters’ energy
bills and free up more of their money to spend on other important things:
education, health care, food, childcare and other things that contribute to our
Heating an inefficient, leaky home is like sending dollars up
the chimney and out the windows. Rural and low income Vermonters are the most
likely to live in these homes.
The Best Bang for your Buck
Investing in efficiency has proven time and again to be one of
the highest return investments possible in the energy sector. The
cheapest energy source is the energy that you don’t use.
For every $1 invested in weatherization $2.51 is returned to the
household and community.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that for every $1
invested in weatherization, it returns over FOUR times ($4.50) in energy and
non-energy benefits…creating lower bills, healthier homes, greater comfort,
greater productivity, and reducing GHG emissions. There is no investor on Wall
Street who wouldn’t want that cost/benefit ratio.
The Vermont Department of Health estimates that the 10-year
benefit of weatherization in fuel savings and health is nearly THREE times
greater than the initial investment per household.
H.439 will be Good for Vermont’s Economy
Efficiency supports the largest number of clean energy jobs in
Vermont (10,600 in 2017). Of those, 7,800 Vermonters are employed in
weatherization and thermal efficiency.
This investment will create more jobs in Vermont’s fastest
growing job sector – clean energy – equating to full time jobs through the WAP
agencies and their subcontractors.
This investment would help keep far more Vermont energy dollars
in state. Vermont imports 100 percent of the fossil fuels we use. That means 78
cents out of every dollar spent on fossil fuels leaves the state, creating a
significant drain on our economy.
For every dollar invested in weatherization, roughly 50 cents
goes to local labor and about 30 cents buys materials (mostly from local
suppliers) with the remainder going to equipment, vehicles, supplies and
administration. Most of these dollars stay local, recirculating and helping to
bolster Vermont’s economy.
H.439 Will Help Vermont Meet Climate Goals
Since 2005, Vermont has had greenhouse gas emissions goals in
statute, aimed at doing our part to address the increasingly urgent issue of
climate change. We are falling far short of those goals and more needs to be
done to reduce energy consumption in our 2nd most carbon-intensive sector. To
meet our GHG targets and get to 90% renewable by 2050, Vermont needs to drive
down about 1/3 of its energy consumption through efficiency.
In 2007, the Vermont Legislature set a goal of weatherizing at
least 25% of the state’s housing stock by 2020 (approximately 80,000 housing
units overall). As of 2017 (latest figures), Vermont was at 25,409 overall and
just over 10,000 low-income. We have a ways to go.
This is also one of the most economically impactful climate
action strategies the state could embrace. Recently, at the request of JFO, the
Regulatory Assistance analyzed “non pricing” climate and energy solutions.
Their high level takeaway? In terms of addressing climate change,
weatherization “avoid(s) carbon emissions at better than zero cost.”
Let’s take a stand for our most vulnerable Vermonters and give
an extra boost to our economy while we’re at it!
For more information, here are some recent editorials about
Vermont Weatherization efforts:
Ladies and gentlemen, please join us in celebrating 13 years of Women Making a Difference across our treasured state of Vermont. We’ll be treated to three special guests from the local community who make things happen. We will be honoring the following women:
– Anny Lin ~ Student activist, dreamer, global citizen
– Tabitha J. Pohl-Moore ~ Mother, activist, small business owner
– Barbara Carris ~ Artist, advocate for the arts and women and children’s rights.
Tickets: Suggested donation of $35; with a special price of $15 for people aged 29 and younger.
To purchase tickets: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/brunchtickets2019 or send check to Rutland County Democratic Party, P.O. Box 933, Rutland, VT 05702.
Please RSVP by April 21: Kathy Hall 802-483-2979 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Hope to see you there!
Past brunches have always been enjoyable escapes from our daily routine to a special event with special people. Please join us for this very inspiring event. All are welcome
We have a lot of plans for the upcoming year!
For more details, please see our Spring 2019 letter.
To support our efforts, please donate to the Rutland County Democrats today, so that in 2020 all of our energy is dedicated to supporting our incumbents and successfully fielding new Democratic candidates to represent Rutland County.
Every dollar stays in Rutland County; every contribution helps: Donate here!
Thank you for everything you’re doing to support our community! You’re making a huge difference!
Why do we need legislation protecting women’s reproductive rights in Vermont? Currently there are over 12 cases related to restricting access to abortion heading to the Supreme Court. By taking steps now, Vermont can ensure that we have leverage if Roe v. Wade is in fact overturned.
Vermont legalized abortion in 1972 through a court case (Beecham v Leahy) one year before the Supreme Court case Roe.v Wade. In Vermont there are no laws currently on the books restricting access to abortion care, such as waiting periods or parental notification. There are also no laws on the books preserving access to abortion care.
H.57 will codify abortion access in Vermont, mirroring what is in practice now.
PR.5 will codify a person’s reproductive rights
Reasons to support this legislation:
All people deserve medically sound, comprehensive, and culturally appropriate sexual and reproductive health information. It is a deeply personal decision of whether, when, and how to become a parent. When a woman has decided to end her pregnancy, she should be able to get safe, timely, affordable care in her community, without anyone shaming, threatening, or trying to impose their beliefs on her. We cannot know all the personal and medical circumstances behind someone’s decision to have an abortion. Every person’s situation is different, and we should respect that this decision is hers to make, with her family and in accordance with her faith.
It’s an issue of access to care, and of economics. Women make up nearly half the workforce and play a vital role in our economy’s success. When women are able to control their reproductive decisions, they are able to make their own decisions about their participation in the workforce, in their communities, and Vermont is stronger for it. Women are justified in being concerned about the financial consequences of carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term. Because the responsibility of raising a child born after being denied an abortion falls disproportionately on women, restricting abortion access threatens women’s economic security. Giving birth, instead of being able to access a wanted abortion, vastly increases the odds that a woman’s household income will be below the Federal Poverty Level and that she will note be able to cover basic living needs.
In league with top medical professionals, the Vermont Medical Society has submitted testimony to the House Human Services Committee supporting H.57.
When women have access to the full range of reproductive health care it helps them control their lives, health, and future, and we are all better off.
FACTS ABOUT SUICIDE, WAITING PERIODS & SAFE STORAGE
Highlights of the First Two Months in the Senate
It is an honor to be serving Rutland County in Montpelier as one of your Senators and I would like to let you know about some of the bills the Senate has passed in the first two months of the session.
S.18 is a consumer protection bill dealing with the fine print in many of the contracts you sign when buying goods and services. Although most businesses we deal with in Vermont are consumer friendly, some corporations have been increasingly successful in exposing consumers to burdensome demands in contracts for services like cell phones or car rentals. S.18 prevents “unconscionable” contract clauses, such as requiring consumers to travel to distant locations to resolve disputes and limiting appeal rights. Read the fine print, but if this bill becomes law, you won’t have to worry so much about untenable hoops if you have a problem with a company.
S.23 raises the minimum wage. Currently, our minimum wage is $10.78 and hour and this bill, if passed into law, would raise the rate annually until it is $15 an hour in 2024. The perception may be that the typical minimum wage worker is a part-time high school student, but statistics show that over 40% of all minimum wage workers are 35 or older; almost 90% are 20 or older. In addition, 41% of minimum wage workers are the head of a family providing most of the family’s income.
Last September, the Vermont Department of Health reported that all of 16 schools tested for lead in drinking water found elevated levels. S.40 provides 100% state funding to test every drinking source at every school and childcare facility in Vermont. Lead exposure for children can damage brain development. We feel this is a very important health issue and passed the bill 29-0.
Campaign finance is a perennial discussion. S.47 bans corporate contributions to political parties and candidates for office in Vermont. If this ban is passed into law, Vermont will join 22 other states that have banned these contributions in an attempt to clean up the election process and put candidates for our citizens’ legislature on a more level playing field.
Vermont law allows for the legal possession of up to two ounces of cannabis. S.54 creates a system to regulate the cannabis industry to provide a safe method for consumers to purchase cannabis products. It taxes the sale of cannabis and seeks to eliminate the black market.
Among adults who smoke, approximately 90% first used cigarettes before age 19. S.86 increases the legal age for buying and using cigarettes, e-cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 21. The research indicates that raising the legal age of purchasing tobacco products to 21 will result in 11,000 fewer Vermont adults smoking. Research also shows that not smoking is among the best decisions a person can make to maintain good health.
H.3, which has already passed the Senate and the House, creates a working group to review the curriculum used in all public schools in order to increase awareness of the contribution, treatment and perspective of Vermont’s racial, ethnic, and social minorities. The more we know about each other and our differences, the more we know we are the same.
The Senate has also initiated hearings to better understand the health impacts Vermont soldiers deployed overseas may experience due to exposure to “burn pits”. Burn pits are large piles the military uses to eliminate all sorts of waste. This could be a public health crisis in the making, and we need to protect our soldiers.
I voted for all of the above legislation and send this information with the help of the office of the President Pro Tem. These and many other issues will progress as the session goes on. They all need to be vetted by the House and you are welcome to follow the progress of any legislation being considered.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve Rutland County.
Cheryl M. Hooker
Rutland County Senator
A strong, universal paid family and medical leave insurance program
is a key part of building a Vermont that works for all of us.
The Vermont Democratic-majority legislature has a plan for a strong, universal paid family and medical leave insurance program that:
• Will help ensure that our families and communities are healthy. Providing Vermonters with the ability to take time to care for themselves and their loved ones will support people when they need it most
• Is part of building a stronger small business economy and a healthy workforce.
• Will help attract more young professionals to the state, encourage young people and families to stay in Vermont, and level the playing field for small businesses.
• Working Vermonters cannot continue to be forced to choose between being able to pay their bills or being there to care for a new baby or a loved one in need.
• This proposal will support our families and a healthy state economy.
—Governor Scott stated his plan would cost “about a buck a day”
—Our proposal as introduced would ensure all working Vermonters are covered, and would cost about .28 cents per day for a min. wage worker and around 70 cents per day for a worker earning the median income
• The legislature’s approach is a tried and true model that has been successful in states across the country—and in countries across the globe
Governor Scott’s proposal:
• Lower wage workers are least likely to have access to paid leave on the Governor’s plan, which proposes a cap of 60% wage replacement. The lower the wage replacement level, the more inaccessible the leave becomes for lower-wage workers.
• Private insurance plans are too restrictive and will not meet the needs of Vermonters.
• Private plans are designed for profit and give the company incentive to deny claims.
• A social insurance/ public model is designed to spread the risk among everyone and ensure that the benefit is available to everyone.
• Without a universal insurance pool, the program will become cost-prohibitive for Vermonters and Vermont small businesses.
• Voluntary—or opt-in—social insurance programs are generally unsustainable and lead to higher premiums for those who do pt-in, as only those with an anticipated immediate need generally opt-in & draw benefits from the program, driving up premium costs.
The Democratic legislature’s plan will be more cost-effective and more successful.
Please consider contacting your legislators with your thoughts.