Vermont Chamber details legislative priorities for upcoming session

This commentary is by Betsy Bishop, President of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, and Megan Sullivan, Vice President of Government Affairs

Each new biennium brings new energy to Montpelier and an invigorated drive for progress. A pivot point in pandemic recovery, 2023 is perhaps a year more anticipated than most. Record-high spending in recent years has been possible due to the influx of federal funding for pandemic relief. As that federal funding is depleted, the ability of Vermonters to absorb the cost of sustained programs will be central to our work.

Betsy Bishop, president of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce

As Vermont’s most influential business advocacy organization, the historical knowledge of our five-person advocacy team and our record of producing results makes us an essential resource for businesses and policy leaders alike. Our ability to navigate the political ecosystem as an independent non-profit organization while representing the whole of the Vermont business community is unparalleled. We look forward to continuing our legacy of collaboration with the legislature and the Governor’s administration to find common-ground policies that value the contributions of Vermont businesses.

Each year, our legislative agenda is data-driven and cost-conscious. Our advocacy team is determined to ensure the well-being of the Vermont business community and the vitality of the Vermont economy.

In 2023, the Vermont Chamber of Commerce’s top priorities are:

Workforce Recruitment & Retention

Vermont continues to lead the nation in addressing complex issues, but we are also experiencing an aging population and a declining workforce. By elevating our achievements, Vermont can attract more workers and retain our current workforce. To do this, we must utilize creative avenues to capitalize on our strengths and promote Vermont as a great place to live, work, and raise a family. Our social and economic principles are valuable, and we can strategically leverage our brand to include professional opportunities and innovative initiatives like the Declaration of Inclusion. We have incredible workforce development programs, but Vermont needs more people to fill the pipeline.

Increasing Workforce Housing Supply:

Recent graduates and seasoned professionals alike are deterred from working in Vermont due to the statewide supply shortage of suitable housing. The Vermont Chamber will continue our record of advocacy on solutions like land-use regulation modernization, accessible designation programs, the continuation of missing middle development initiatives, regulatory and financial incentives for the conversion of commercial space to housing, and the creation of a statewide registry of short-term rentals. The housing and workforce shortage issues are cyclical. With no single solution, we must make coordinated and strategic efforts to continue doing more than one thing at a time.

Economic Vitality

Amid ongoing economic uncertainty, accumulating costs for Vermonters will only fuel precarious economic conditions. Many businesses that survived the pandemic are deeper in debt and less able to withstand economic turbulence. Inflation, supply chain disruptions, and the rising cost of labor are already wreaking havoc, particularly on our small businesses. We will work to inform policy conversations on the broader impacts of cost increases and communicate that a heightened burden on businesses could ultimately result in fewer jobs, less revenue to the state, and less vibrant communities.

A key issue that will require this balanced discourse on the desire to spend with the ability to pay, will be childcare. While public investments are necessary, the economy cannot bear the full cost of the solutions all at once. The Vermont Chamber will advocate for the repurposing of the remaining federal relief funding for one-time investments, such as facility upgrades to increase the capacity of existing providers, and incentive programs to attract more childcare professionals to the industry.

Amid a nation more divided than ever, Vermont remains a leader in unity, particularly when it comes to agreeing on the top issues facing our state. If we can agree on the problems, we are confident we can find balanced solutions. Vermonters agree on the “what,” and we look forward to working together to find common ground on the “how.”

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Tony Webster

5 thoughts on “Vermont Chamber details legislative priorities for upcoming session

  1. VT legislature is a circus of clowns.. They have BLM, Equity, CRT and LGBTQ on the brain. Oh, and Climate Change. Reality WILL be the Last At Bat. The VT pension fund must be down abot 18% loss this year (and up to $4.5 to $5 billion UNFUNDED already)….Stocks, bond and real estate got slammed.. Billions of Federal Money that padded all things Progressive spent are gone. VT has a spending budget of $9.1 BILLION for a mere 640,000 people. Unions get cost of living increases…inflation uo 8.7%. VT pays about 85% of ALL UNION health insurance and that is up about 15% this year. Then, VT is HIGHLY dependant on the 30% of Vermonters (lots of Trust Fund people) who pay in HUGE for dividenfs, Interest and Capital Gains taxes. No GAINS to pay this year, only losses. So that revenue will be WAY down. The Bean Counters at the State DO NOT break out Capital gains in “income” tax revenue. They should.

    It is only a matter of time till the money runs out and before that happens VT’;s bond/borrowing rating will be downgraded and then it will get even MORE expensive to borrow money to pay for all this ‘Feel good.”…a fiscal spiral down will come.

  2. The mass exodus will continue, unabated, as witnessed in California, Illinois, New York, et al. Next will be secession as proposed in Oregon, California, and Texas. I say split Vermont down the middle, following the Green Mountain Range. Sell the Left side to NY and the Right to NH – just as it began it shall end.

  3. UNITY in Vermont? You’re kidding. The Legislature is acting like a steamroller, rolling over people’s rights. More like tyranny in Vermont. Don’t think so? How about the harsh and punitive climate change laws recently passed?? Can’t sell gasoline powered cars after 2034. Can’t get your cars inspected if you do not comply. If they want us all driving electric cars, the legislation should have included the money to purchase an electric car for every Vermont family. AND they need to show us the hard infrastructure they have in place to support this mandate. If not, repeal this oppressive and controlling nonsense!! Communist governments behave like this — not governments of a free people. But are we really free any more?

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