To the editor: Milne campaign letter needs to be clarified, corrected

We in Vermont are fortunate that we have a choice. In some states, the politics is so one-sided, there is no real choice. Here, we have a choice and that’s a good thing. That said, I feel the need to comment on a couple of items in Hayden Dublois’ letter to the editor.

First off, Vermont does not have a “multi-billion dollar budget deficit.” Vermont’s total budget is roughly $5 billion, with about $1 billion of that the General Fund – i.e. the part that is Vermont money (taxes and spending) vs. federal funds of some type. The General Fund has been running a (tiny) surplus the past few years, not a deficit. The state does have $8 billion in outstanding long-term debt, but this is not a budget deficit. As anyone with a mortgage knows, sometimes you need long-term debt to pay for large projects. This is normal in any household and in any state. Claiming the debt as a deficit is incorrect and confuses the issue.

Dublois’ claim is that Milne will reduce “burdensome regulations and taxes.” I am all for that. A friendly business environment is good for any state’s economy. I would be very interested in hearing specifics on this issue. I am very much in favor of getting rid of unneeded regulations. My only concern is that (on a national Republican party level), reducing “burdensome regulations and taxes” is political-speak for repealing Obamacare. Healthcare is not “unneeded” in my opinion.

Finally, Dublois states Milne wants to “reform our broken education system to improve school quality and reduce costs.” Again, I’d be very interested in hearing specifics. I personally don’t consider our education system “broken,” but yes, it could be better. Having been a student, then teacher, then parent over the past 40 years, I can say that I have never seen anyone “improve school quality” by “reducing cost.” Education is expensive. We have a choice of how many educational options we provide. Example: high school students taking college credit courses for free. We also have a choice on the quality of education we provide. Example: adequate funding for teachers and school supplies. I am willing to discuss educational options. I am not, however, willing to save money by reducing quality.

Ron Jackson

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