Editor’s note: This commentary is by Deb Billado, chairwoman of the Vermont GOP.
Thanks to failed Democrat/Progressive policies of the past, Vermont has an affordable housing crisis, and in addition, one in every three Vermont households lives in homes that consume an unduly high proportion of their income.
Excessively high property taxes driven by years of Democrat-directed over-spending in many areas, including education outlays, have made home prices and even rental unaffordable for many Vermonters. Attempts to “contain costs” with mechanisms in Act 46 have proven to be a failure and have hurt many Vermonters.
Additionally, the Democrats’ refusal to seriously consider real Act 250 reform that modernizes and streamlines the permitting process has created uncertainty for housing developers. In fact, the Democrats’ radical proposed changes will further harm the permitting process for all parties. It’s time for us to demand true regulatory reform of Act 250. It’s time to put our legislators on notice that new building, new business and new industry are not our enemies, but the very elements which will put food on the tables of Vermonters, and keep our young graduates from fleeing to fairer climes where growth and economic vitality are not dirty words.
In 2019, when Republicans proposed 1) reducing unnecessary bureaucratic overlap between Act 250 and other state permits and 2) removing Act 250 jurisdiction from key areas, Democrats used their supermajority status to stall the legislation in committee. For this we need to hold them accountable.
If Democrats truly cared about affordable housing, why in 2018 did they reject a boost to incentives for down-payment assistance? In the last two years Democrats have twice rejected Republican led initiatives to revitalize the existing housing stock through tax incentives. Our statehouse is the place where liberal elites have spent much time and effort, at taxpayer expense, damaging any chance for many to own their own house, and for this they must be held answerable. The way to hold the Democrats/Progressives liable for the harm done to our citizens is to elect Republicans to state leadership positions, the legislature and down-ticket offices.
We must get our message to those who can make the difference. Please review your address book for those who would benefit from hearing our Republican message to them. Please send my message onto them and when you do please copy me (firstname.lastname@example.org) so I will know you did. We can win in 2020, and when the Vermont political landscape is once again a “rosy red,” so too will be the plight of Vermonters and their desire to live, work and raise families in a home they can afford in the green mountains of Vermont. It really can happen but only if you get out there, run for office, support those who do, and make sure to vote and to encourage disaffected Vermont voters to do the same.