Letter, Op - Ed, Opinion

Real affordability

By Emily Long

Editor’s note: Emily Long is the State House majority leader.

As Democrats, there’s nothing we care more about than making sure Vermont is a place where everyone can afford to live. We’re working hard to pass legislation that makes a real difference for folks, and it’s no secret that we have some deep differences with Governor Scott about how to get this important work done.  

I guess it’s obvious that it’s an election year! Unfortunately, turning up the heat and delivering over-simplified political rhetoric doesn’t help anyone and it certainly doesn’t help Vermonters. It’s disappointing to see the governor and our House Republican colleagues using press conferences and press releases to create an atmosphere of fear and mistrust. Making sweeping statements about taxes and fees — without any context, without any mention of the people and communities these investments will help, without any mention of long-term savings — falls far short of the kind of conversation we need to be having as a state. It’s designed to create outrage, but we’d rather focus on helping our constituents raise families, build careers, grow their businesses and support their communities.  

We need to start talking about real fiscal responsibility and real affordability, and what that means. As Democrats, our approach is to understand that when times are tough and budgets are tight, you need to control spending while also making careful, strategic long-term investments. That long-term, big-picture approach solves problems in the short term, helps people with every dollar, and often winds up saving money down the road.

The governor has increasingly used the word “supermajority” in his talking points to imply that work is being pushed through without collaboration. It is true that the governor was elected by a large majority but it’s also true that Vermonters voted to elect a large Democratic majority in the Legislature. We are citizen-legislators sent to the State House by voters to represent our communities. We are parents, educators, small business owners, state employees, nonprofit professionals, health care workers, farmers, and community volunteers. We share the values and concerns of our constituents, and our priorities are Vermonters’ priorities.

When it comes to hard choices, we’re willing to step up and lead — to support real progress in critical priorities like housing, childcare, climate resiliency, food insecurity, supporting our public schools, affordable healthcare and public safety.  

I want to reaffirm our commitment to listening and collaborating across party lines, and to building a stronger economy that supports working families and a brighter future for future generations of Vermonters.

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