IMMEDIATE RELEASE - JANUARY, 20, 2022. We look forward to collaborating with the Governor and our colleagues in the legislature to make meaningful investments in Vermont and Vermonters in 2022.
We continue to hear about the Governor’s commitment to workforce development. We are all for getting resources to Vermont workers and believe that this strategy must include people-centered policy, such as livable wages, paid family leave, the right to organize in the workplace, and equitable working conditions. To date, the ideas we have heard focus largely on education and training, aid to employers, and recruitment of new residents. Working Vermonters have been on the frontlines of Vermont’s COVID-19 crisis and data shows that the last two years have amplified economic inequities, with growing divides between the wealthiest and poorest Vermonters. A people-centered approach to staffing shortages will ask what Vermonters need to be able to return to workplaces. This includes finding state solutions to fill gaps left in the sunset of important federal policies, such as COVID Relief Funds to support paid sick leave for workers who become sick or need to quarantine and workplace PPE, child tax credits, and housing subsidies. If we build a stronger social safety net that improves access to food, guarantees affordable housing, provides public education, and subsidizes child care, we will attract more people to live and work in Vermont through a more just economy.
Significantly missing from the Governor's budget address was any discussion of the kind of investments that are needed to see Vermonters through the ongoing impacts of COVID-19. We are especially concerned about the need to stabilize healthcare and education sectors in crisis, with adequate access to testing, masks, treatment, pay equity, fair working conditions, and other resources. Over the coming days and weeks, we’ll be digging into Governor Scott’s budget to make sure we have a clear understanding of what the administration proposes to fund and what they propose to cut, with an eye to ensuring that the needs of most vulnerable Vermonters are centered and met.
In the recovery from this pandemic, we can come together and build a better future rooted in social, economic, and environmental justice.