McClaughry: Candidate questions for 2020

By John McClaughry

The 2020 general election campaigns are now under way, and it’s time for citizens to smoke out where candidates stand on issues that they will face in 2021, if not sooner.

I say “smoke out” because most candidates are notoriously gun shy about telling voters where they stand. That’s in part due to their limited understanding of the actual issues, and their anxiety about having to coherently defend any clear position.

But the voters have a right to know. So here are 16 timely questions, fairly stated, that voters need to try out on candidates seeking their vote. If the candidate can’t handle at least most of these, he or she likely is not well prepared to handle the job they’re seeking.

John McClaughry

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

1. Barring an unpredictable federal bailout, Vermont will face a $330 million 2021 revenue shortfall in its three major accounts (General, Transportation and Education). Should the legislature vote to raise taxes to cover at least a third of that shortfall?

2. Unless outside revenue is put into the Education Fund, residential school property taxes will have to increase by $75 million to cover already voted school budgets. Should the legislature divert money from other sources into the Education Fund to prevent that from happening?

3. Should the legislature require the top 5% of Vermont income taxpayers to pay a $30 million income tax surcharge to finance a “Green New Deal”?

4. Should the legislature broaden the current 6% sales and use tax on goods to include services (such as haircuts, lawn maintenance, plumbing, legal advice, etc.)?

5. Should the legislature make it an annual practice to contribute more than the Annual Required Contribution to the two state retirement funds, in order to reduce their $4.5 Billion unfunded liabilities?

6. Should Vermont join 10 other states in a multi-state agreement called the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI), by which Vermont agrees to discourage the use of motor fuel by increasing gasoline and diesel taxes by 5-17 cents per gallon, steadily increasing, and use the revenue to subsidize “green” projects such as electric vehicle subsidies, EV charging stations, electric buses, etc.?

7. As part of the pending Global Warming Solutions Act, should the legislature create a 23- person “Climate Council” to instruct state regulators to adopt and enforce rules to achieve up to 75% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, which rules would take effect without any vote by elected representatives?

8. Should one-fifth of the members of House or Senate be allowed to force an up or down vote by all legislators on new state rules that have large economic impacts?

9. If the State fails to meet the aggressive greenhouse gas emission reduction targets mandated by the pending Global Warming Solutions Act, should “any person” be allowed to sue the State to require more far reaching emission reduction steps?

10. Should the legislature make “carbon neutrality,” either through the use of building materials and processes or the purchase of “carbon offsets,” a requirement for obtaining an Act 250 permit?

11. Should the legislature require electric vehicles to contribute the equivalent of a motor fuel tax to the Transportation Fund, as do gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles, to pay for maintenance of state roads and bridges?

12. Should able-bodied persons who receive state welfare assistance be asked to perform 10 hours a week of volunteer service in their communities?

13. Should the legislature allow all parents to choose the school or educational program that best fits the needs of their children from among a wide array of providers, with their portion of education fund dollars following the child?

14. If public schools do not open due to the pandemic, should the legislature allow money from the Education Fund to be reallocated to parents to help them afford effective educational alternatives for their children?

15. Should the legislature allow groups holding a permit for a peaceful rally on the State House steps to have law enforcement remove persons who are actively disrupting their event?

16. (A pet issue of mine.) Should rust damage be deleted as a requirement for passing motor vehicle inspection, unless the damage poses a genuine safety hazard, such as brakes, frames and floorboards?

There are of course many other questions that could be posed. But pressing candidates to respond to these will give voters a good measure of the views and abilities of people seeking elective office. Voters deserve to know what they’ll get by giving their votes. That’s what makes democracy work.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

Images courtesy of Public domain and John McClaughry
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14 thoughts on “McClaughry: Candidate questions for 2020

  1. Dear Candidates: As another voice from constituent land, I ask that you understand that the questions posed by Mr. McClaughry are at the core of what concerns many of us constituents out here. I ask you to please give these issues your serious attention. In addition, you might want to consider adding a “SUNSET AMENDMENT” to any legislation you pass this time around. Also, have you considered re-assessing your constituents’ acquiescence on some of the more controversial extant legislation? Should you consult us and reconsider some of this legislation? Do your plans include the repeal of any legislation this session? Our polite acquiescence is not permanent.

    • Yes, Prop 5 will have to be voted on again next year. It was a one of a dozen items that didn’t make the cut. Also difficult to explain fairly.

  2. Here’s my question, will voters continue to support the insanity going on behind the Vermont legislative curtain or will they finally wake up and vote to stop the disaster that is continuing to destroy Vermont?
    Freedom and Unity are now just words on a flag! TAKE BACK VERMONT starting tomorrow!!!!!

  3. Great questions John. Sad truth is that the candidates can score 100 on the conservative meter with absolutely no assurances that they will follow through on their promises. I can recall several elections ago when we heard all the things we wanted to hear about fiscal responsibility. What was the first thing on the agenda the following January? Guess what, SAME SEX MARRIAGE!!!! It was a discrace.

    • Yes, serious problem. I launched the Vermont Republican Assembly in 1988 to hold Republican legislators to the party platform, but alas it died 2 years later after I had to relinquish the reins due to being elected to the Senate.One of my greatest sorrows.

  4. Here’s one other question to add to the list:

    Should the Vermont legislature meet only every other year?

    What’s the old saying? “Work expands to meet the time available to complete it.” A proverb that holds true in Montpelier, resulting in a lack of focus, wasted time and added costs for the tax payers as the legislature fritters away its time trying to save the world or be the first in attempting to do so.

  5. Tax pornography, PAC’s and lobbyists our state and citizenry would probably be better off without them. Tax them heavily. Tax them to 500 million!

    We would immediately see benefits, families and relationships would be based on more natural understandings. We would uncouple the pay to play in Montpelier.

    I know it’s difficult for a conservative to think how could raising taxes be good? This would be really really good.

    Oh, I’d have a really really hefty penalty for any non-profit that was really a lobbyist hiding
    Behind the cloak of non- profit. We’d raise millions, and it would be coming from the pockets of scum bags like George Soros, the Koch Brothers and all those wishing to corrupt our little republic known as
    Vermont.perhaps putting a slight pause to the socialist March that happening across our state.

    • When I say heavy…50% minimum. porn…$5. – $20 per day.

      George spends $100,000 on the lobbyist group known as Vermont Digger the state gets $50,000. If they don’t change their status to lobbyist within 30 days of passing this bill, they are fined their yearly budget.

      Yeah we’d suddenly bit rid of the Union chains, planned parenthood influence. Corruption would plummet. Private industry would flourish. Vermont would be free!

      • Neil the problems with taxing porn are numerous. How do you define porn these days when musical videos simulate sex acts and magazines like SI have barely covered women in suggestive poses? And then once their foot is in the door what else will government officials go after because they deem it harmful to society? Especially in Vermont where the progressives want to legislate everything do you think that’s going to be abused?
        I definitely agree that lobbying laws need to be tightened. I will introduce legislation that will prohibit any contact with legislators outside the general chambers. Anything more than saying hi and a brief conversation in passing paths is prohibited.

        • Perhaps it’s time to have a conversation about the need to reclaim our Language?
          Because painting graffiti on the streets is not a “Mural” either.
          A statement that you don’t like or agree with is not “Racism”.
          An unwanted sexual advance, flirting perhaps, this is not “Rape”.
          There are many more examples.
          What is Pornography?
          What is Education?
          What is Voter Fraud?
          What is Climate Change?
          What is anything anymore?
          So as you can see, we are going to have a whole lot of problems solving things when every political action committee out there gets to decide what words will mean now..

          • Well we could start with porn hub, seems rather obvious. And should photos of genitallia be involved its porn. See they have super computers that can delete any comment of a conservative as hate speech. But somehow they can’t identify child pornography? That want this to be spread on purpose, so they train young impressionable minds the most base swill is “how normal people live” and then they wonder why the family structure is breaking down? It’s not a wonder it’s their plan, written out in how they subvert a country. It’s not could for mothers and father, brother and sisters to be sleeping with each other and every other horny person within reach, but that is precisely in graphic detail what is being brought to every propaganda phone people carry.

            A tax is a serios burden we all know that well.

            We should burden the fools and scoundrels known as porn, lobbyists and PAC’s, they the root of many problems

            There is no problem taxing and putting fees on movies, concerts, plays, why should porn get a tax free ride? They get a free ride because some want it to flourish. Tax it!

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