Immigration, economy, efficiency featured
By Evan Johnson
RUTLAND—In an address that ranged from President Trump’s recent executive orders barring refugees to economic development to education funding, Governor Phil Scott outlined his plans for Vermont Monday afternoon, Jan. 30, at a luncheon for the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce.
Scott’s remarks were the first since presenting his budget to the legislature last week, which he said would set the stage for efficient statewide growth while protecting the vulnerable.
Responding to President Trump’s recent executive order barring refugees and others from seven largely Muslim countries, he said, “I am concerned and disappointed with the message it sends and the actions it takes.”
Scott indicated Vermont’s history of welcoming immigrants from the state’s earliest settlers who worked farms and helped establish its industries, to more recent arrivals from Somalia, Vietnam and Bosnia-Herzegovina. “I can’t imagine how Vermont would look today if we refused to allow immigrants from all reaches of the world to experience this wonderful country,” he said. In Rutland, the order quashed plans to resettle 100 Syrian families fleeing civil war. Scott said the Trump administration’s actions crossed legal and ethical lines. The comment drew applause from the audience.
From there, he pivoted to his plans for growing the Vermont economy.
On his first day in office, Scott signed four executive orders, which established the Government Modernization and Efficiency Team (GMET) and the Program to Improve Vermonter Outcomes Together (PIVOT). Scott said the goal was to implement a customer-focused culture across state government. “I believe we should be treating our citizens as customers. I believe we should be treating our businesses as partners,” he said.
Scott also talked about a need to bring the Vermont workforce into the 21st century. Vermonters need jobs and businesses are looking for skilled workers, Scott said. The challenge is facilitating the meeting of the two. “Right now there’s a disconnect between the size and skills of our workforce and the needs of Vermont businesses,” he said.
Scott’s plans for economic growth includes a $35 million housing bond, an increase to the downtown and village center tax credits by $200,000, and an investment of $750,000 in economic development marketing.