VBSR: State House Report Week #13

Source: VBSR

VBSR Members Call on Governor to Support Climate, Clean Water Studies 

Dear Governor Scott,

Knowledge is power.

In today’s rapidly evolving world, business leaders rely on timely and accurate data in order to make informed decisions on how to improve their operations, support their employees, and improve the bottom line.

That’s why we, as leaders of companies that employ more than 800 Vermonters and account for over $1 billion in sales each year, are so concerned by your refusal to seek new information and analysis to address threats facing our state.

As fellow CEOs, we understand your commitment to not reducing “prices” on the people you consider your customers, the citizens of Vermont. We, too, have customers and are cautious about raising rates and prices. But as responsible business leaders we must also consider the greater health of our enterprise and our shared economy, and we must assess the need for strategic investment. To do that, we need information.

That’s why we are so concerned about your opposition to new studies that will help us identify solutions for Vermont’s water quality and climate change challenges.

Two critical studies which will address threats to Vermont’s economy and environment – one to identify funding to improve water quality, and one to study the economic costs and benefits of decarbonization – have received broad bipartisan support in the General Assembly. Yet you’ve declared that neither study should be funded.

When faced with major business challenges, it is prudent to investigate options and understand implications before moving forward. But ignoring the need for data or action is far from prudent – it is the definiton of foolhardiness.

There is a saying in business: “Hope is not a strategy.” We can’t rely on hope to clean our water or our air. Hope isn’t going to strengthen the economy or mitigate the effects of pollution on our citizens and environment. We need to let facts guide potential solutions, and then pursue the actions that offer the best return on our collective investment and have the most positive impact on our shared enterprise.

We wholeheartedly agree with the goal of making Vermont a more affordable place to live, work and do business. That’s why we’re passionate about investing in obtaining the information we need to grow, and to address the threats we face. The information from these studies will help us strengthen Vermont’s economy, and supporting them is the prudent move.

As fellow business leaders, we urge you to support the clean water study embedded in S.260 and the decarbonization study funded in H. 924 (the budget). The information we gain from this research is critical to collective success.

Knowledge is power, so let’s gain as much as we can to move Vermont forward. We owe it to our customers and the current and future citizens of Vermont.

Joey Bergstein

CEO, Seventh Generation

Mark Curran

Co-founder Black River Produce

Jen Kimmich
CEO, Alchemist

Bram Kleppner,
CEO, Danforth Pewter

Jostein Solheim
CEO, Ben & Jerry’s 



VBSR Asks VT Senate Leaders to Fund Climate Change Studies 

VBSR sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee last week requesting that legislators maintain funding for an important economic analysis of decarbonization policies in Vermont.

Read the testimony to the Senate Committee.

Climate change is a complex problem and the Vermont Legislature needs good data to make the appropriate decisions to save our environment and our economy. That’s why VBSR believes funding an independent, non-partisan analysis of decarbonization proposals, including The ESSEX Plan, is essential. This study is an investment in building a stronger Vermont economy, boosted by moving off of imported fossil fuels and embracing the benefits of local clean energy.


VBSR asks the Vermont Senate to retain funding for decarbonization studies as outlined in Section C.110 of the budget. These are proposals that are recommended and supported by the Governor’s Climate Action Commission, the Mayors Coalition, the Vermont Council on Rural Development’s Climate Economy Action Team, and the Climate Solutions Caucus.Read the ESSEX Plan, a proposal to lower Vermont’s green electricity rates through carbon pricing.



House General Committee Holds Hearings on Minimum Wage Bill 

S.40, the bill raising Vermont’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by the year 2024, is under consideration in the House General, Housing, and Military Affairs Committee. VBSR testified in support of the bill last week, telling lawmakers that the proposal would give a much needed pay raise to Vermont’s lowest-earning workers on a timeline that is appropriate for small businesses.

Read VBSR’s testimony on the balance between increasing the minimum wage and supporting small businesses.

VBSR also reiterated to legislators that out of control health care costs continue to be a burden on employers who pay for employee health care premiums. The dysfunctional employer health care system suppresses wage increases while out of pocket costs health care costs eat away at employee take-home pay.



House Natural Resources Committee Considers Clean Water Bill 


“The time to identify a more permanent and sustainable funding source is now. While I

appreciate that additional research and refinement is always in order, we should not allow a continuing search for the perfect solution to take the place of good concrete action based on known data.”
- State Treasurer Beth Pearce

House lawmakers are considering the best approach for clean water financing this year and efforts to pass a long-term, sustainable financing plan got a boost last week from State Treasurer Beth Pearce.Pearce, whose office led a review and issued a report on clean water financing last year, told the House Natural Resources, Fish, and Wildlife Committee, that further studies on this issue are essentially unnecessary and that the Legislature needs to act this year before the costs of clean-up and remediation continue to grow.

“As I’ve said in the past, a plan for water cleanup can’t be a ‘catch as catch can’ approach,” Pearce told the committee. “You can’t say, ‘well this year, we’ll try this, next year we’ll try this, and maybe we’ll have some money next year.’ It doesn’t work that way. In order to have a 20-year plan, you’ve got to have a

20-year plan! And you’ve got to put dollars into that that plan on an ongoing basis.”Read Treasurer Pearce’s testimony.VBSR believes it is vital that the Vermont Legislature pass legislation this year identifying a sustainable and long-term funding solution to begin financing clean water projects in impaired waters across the state – before the problem gets worse and the solutions more expensive. S.260, the bill under consideration in the House, is a step forward, but continues to rely on further studies of financing options as opposed to committing to a path.



Paid Family Leave Public Hearing at State House Tuesday Night 

The Senate Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs Committee will hold a public hearing on H.196, an act relating to paid family leave, this Tuesday night from 5-7 PM at the Vermont State House in Montpelier.

Witnesses may signup to speak starting at 4:30 p.m. in the hallway outside Room 11.  Time is limited to three minutes per person. The Committee will also accept written testimony before the hearing, which may be submitted to Kayla Dewey at kdewey@leg.state.vt.us or mailed to the State House. If you plan to attend and require accommodations, please notify Kayla Dewey as early as possible so that arrangements may be made.

If you have any other questions, contact Kayla Dewey at kdewey@leg.state.vt.us, by calling 802-828-3890, or by submitting a letter by mail.

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