By Bill Moore
As a membership organization, the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce has an obligation to our members to be strong advocates on their behalf. One of our principal tenets is to advocate for the business community.
Our policy positions are identified through an arduous process that includes a thorough vetting by our Public Policy Committee, chaired this year by Jon Skates from Casella Waste Management. The positions are then referred to our board of directors for their adoption. The issues that we become engaged with affect all aspects of business and commerce.
We firmly believe that adoption of the positions we take will help to create a pro-business, pro-growth state economy. There are those who believe that the business community is well-suited to take on a disproportionate share of the cost of state government. There are those who believe that the business community can afford to fund government operations at a high level.
The fact is that “profit” is not a four-letter word. Free enterprise is what built the world’s biggest economy, and it is free enterprise that has provided the means for success of individuals and businesses. Burdensome taxation, employer mandates and over-regulation of business stifles business expansion and economic growth.
This week I will address key issues that we will be following in the 2018 session of the Vermont General Assembly.
On energy, the Chamber supports policies that encourage reliable and affordable electricity and fuels for heating and transportation, ensure rates that are competitive and are cognizant of the cost to businesses of all sizes, encourage energy conservation and use of renewables without shifting costs, and support local control over siting renewable energy sources.
On health care reform, the Chamber supports policies that maintain and expand personal choice and responsibility regarding health care costs, bring transparency to health care pricing, and promote efficiency throughout Vermont’s health care system.
On permitting, we support policies that simplify and streamline the permitting process; create a permit process that is timely, more predictable and less subjective; reduce the numbers of appeals; and reimburse the prevailing party for direct and indirect costs.
On transportation, the Chamber supports policies that recognize that many forms of transportation infrastructure are vital to the Vermont economy, support the use of transportation funds exclusively for transportation projects, ensure that the transportation fund is supported by all modes of motorized transportation, and expand private sector reliance to deliver transportation projects more efficiently. In addition, we support policies that seek creative ways to leverage federal funds to ensure that needed projects get completed, maintain private sector access to transportation projects, and align Vermont transportation policies so that they are competitive with neighboring states.
The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce recognizes that government has a responsibility to support and protect all citizens. We also recognize that government has a direct role to play in creating a springboard for growing the economy. We believe that adopting policies that the Chamber supports will lead to a stronger state economy, one that will encourage more business expansion and ultimately create more jobs.
Bill Moore is president and CEO of the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce.