Growing up in Latin America helped me learn about and appreciate different cultures and languages. Working with colleagues around the world taught me the value of diverse viewpoints in creating a more productive and successful outcome. These insights from my business career inspire me to challenge how our society sometimes divides itself into "us" and "them". To build a more just state we must critically examine the ways we diminish and marginalize some Vermonters, and commit to include, value and support everyone.
Vermont faces a huge budget challenge in the state due to COVID-19, and my 40 years of finance experience will be needed to help us close the gap fairly and responsibly. I favor continued restraint in state spending, while chipping away at our large pension deficits and taking a serious look at our education funding system.
We need urgent action to respond to the impacts of climate change. I am proud that the first bill I signed on to when I joined the House was the Global Warming Solutions Act. While I believe the most effective approach must be at a national level, Vermont has made progress on renewable energy and home weatherization. We must continue to pursue innovative solutions to address Vermont's transportation challenges.
In rural districts like ours, we need to support a diversified economy, including dairies and farms, value-added agribusiness, and the many high tech businesses in our region. I have worked closely with our largest employers like VTC and Gifford Medical Center, as well as many of our smaller area businesses, to ensure that they remain vital contributors to our local economy.
I serve on the House Health Care Committee and have been directly involved in our response to COVID-19. Affordability is an ongoing problem, but I believe that through Vermont's Accountable Care Organization we have begun to control cost inflation. We must continue to find ways to retain and attract more health care workers, and I am proud of the work I have done to provide new scholarships for doctors and nurses committed to practicing in Vermont.
Building out a high speed internet system is critical to the future of Vermont. The sudden need to work and learn from home has brought the lack of "universal broadband" into clear focus. We have several successful models in the state that need to be expanded and supported, and I favor increased funding to make this a reality.
VTC and the entire VSC system are essential resources to educate and train young Vermonters and provide pathways to career advancement for all. We have underfunded the colleges for decades, and now must commit to investing in all our schools. The solution is not a blank check from government. By working together with administrators, faculty and our college communities we can restructure and reinvigorate our state colleges.
I supported both the legislative initiatives this year to gradually boost the minimum wage and to provide a paid family leave program. These are critical steps towards attracting and keeping young families, which many agree needs to be Vermont's top priority. A livable wage and support structures for working Vermonters will help stabilize and develop both our economy and our communities.
I strongly support our recent efforts in Vermont to expand voting by mail, and am dismayed by the unfounded fears being promoted by some that claim our elections will be weakened by fraud and other interference. If elected, I will continue to support voting by mail. I will also work to protect against voter suppression, and to strengthen our laws prohibiting ballot "harvesting" by parties and candidates.
Despite all the rhetoric and polarized positions, I think Vermont has achieved a fair balance between respecting constitutional rights and keeping guns away from people who should not have them. I respect the long tradition of hunting in Vermont, but question the need for assault rifles in civilized society.