Governor Douglas’ Inaugural Address

first_img*** Our task now is to build on these recommendations andlaunch a comprehensive package of Next Generation initiatives this year.  Two years later, Governor Stafford would deliver his owninaugural and note that, “There can be but one ultimate aim for all of us.  It is to take the necessary action todayto make Vermont a better place in which to live in every spiritual, social andeconomic sense for ourselves and our children.”  Making Vermont affordable is imperative.  Keeping our families safe is equallyimportant.  Two weeks ago, I wasproud to stand with Barre Mayor Thom Lauzon after the recent crackdown on drugactivity in his city.  MayorLauzon’s determination to hold drug dealers accountable is a model we have seenwork in other cities, like Rutland. Working through the Vermont Drug Task Force, we look forward tocontinuing our efforts in communities where the state can be a partner forchange.  In Vermont, we are fortunate to have a strong communityof law enforcement, firefighters, and emergency medical workers.  Whether volunteer or career, they havecommitted their lives to public service and, in turn, let us continue our clearcommitment to them.  Please join mein thanking Vermont’s first responders for their hard work and dedication.  First, I ask that you approve a percentage point reduction of the tax onfuel-efficient and hybrid vehicles and reward Vermonters for makingenvironmentally friendly choices.  Irequest that you support a tax rate reduction on bio-diesel for individuals andbusinesses that use it for transportation purposes, so we can cultivate thecommercial market f Today, I present the primary elements of the Vermont Way Forward – afour-part strategy of environmental leadership, job creation, technologicaladvancement and innovative education – a strategy that will allow Vermont theopportunity to complete an economic transformation that no state has achieved,but all will envy. *** I have had, on three occasions now, the privilege ofplacing my hand upon our family bible and pledging, on my sacred honor, tofaithfully execute the responsibilities of governor.  The Vermont Way Forward We must fully implement Catamount Health, reforms alreadyregarded as the most far-reaching of their kind anywhere in the country.  This will require flexibility and acontinued commitment to our common goals, but I’m confident that we can makethese landmark health care reforms a resounding success.  Vermont already has one of the highest income tax ratesand per capita tax burdens in the country. Raising taxes to pay for education would intensify the problem, not solveit. Raising taxes would be unfair to working Vermonters, discourage innovationand threaten economic growth.  *** All of thesteps we’ve taken are part of a larger vision that has brought us to the earlyedge of tomorrow, to the threshold of a renaissance that will – if we take careto see it through – produce the greatest economic advancements of ourtime.   Here today bearing witness to this convention are membersof our National Guard.  Theseextraordinary men and women represent all of those individuals, and theirfamilies, who protect and defend the world’s mostdignified expression of self-governance. They are here today to remind us of our proud past, the challenges of thepresent and our obligations for the future.  Please join me in thanking them and allof the men and women of our armed forces.  Dorothy and I are proud to have sent our boys to public school where theyreceived a quality education.  Ibelieve we can cap property taxes without compromising the quality and successof our public schools.  We cancontinue to increase our investment in these important institutions—but at arate that Vermonters can afford. Over the past four years, first with the Plan forProsperity, now with the Affordability Agenda, we have made steady, substantiveprogress on the most difficult and complex issues facing Vermont families.  While we must still address manypressing challenges swiftly and in this session, we are now ready to lookforward – ahead of today’s affairs – to shape a future for Vermont that ensuresour prosperity for decades to come. Vermonters take pride in the work that we do; fromeducators to excavators, we wake each morning with the same determination to doour best to provide for our families. In this biennium, we must send a strong message to Vermonters that hardwork matters and that we will not take more than is necessary to run stategovernment and fund our schools.  Over the last several years, we’ve taken major steps toensure each new generation of Vermonters enjoys greater prosperity and peace ofmind.  Finally, by focusing on affordability—on those issues most affectingworking Vermonters—we’ve identified the means to address our changing populationand make our state more affordable and its families more prosperous. For a second biennium the people of Vermont elected thehighest constitutional officers of one party, and a Legislature controlled byanother.  Appreciating the progresswe made in the last session, they have no doubt concluded that such a balanceserves Vermont well.  Vermonters aren’t interested in partisan intrigue—they are interested inresults. Catamount Health will change the lives of thousands of Vermonters byinsuring the uninsured and offering affordable premiums to those who otherwisecouldn’t purchase their own insurance. Together, we faced the health care challenge head on, we put Vermontersahead of politics and delivered on our promise, and for that we can all beproud. *** We began construction of this new, more secure, economicframework by first articulating our economic development ethics—values thatguide all levels of our policymaking. We rejected the notion that jobscome at the expense of the environment, and that environmental protection mustbe compromised to have economic progress, stating without equivocation that wemust have both.  This third way—TheVermont Way—is committed to both our environment and oureconomy. Moderating the cost of living is a prerequisite toachieving the prosperity and peace of mind within our reach.  That is why full implementation of theAffordability Agenda remains an essential priority, and we should begin byfollowing through on our commitment to making higher education moreaffordable.  We must do more to put homeownership within reach of everyVermonter.  That is why I proposethe New Neighborhoods Initiative to facilitate home construction through aprocess that is predictable and less costly. We are a step closer to our goals thanks in large part tothe Legislature’s recognition of the problem and the hard work of our NextGeneration Commission.  TheCommission has made some excellent recommendations and I thank them for theirinclusive, diligent effort.   *** Our system of higher education must be a centerpiece ofour economy, producing the innovators whom we need to compete and succeed in the21st Century.   Mr. President, Madame Speaker, distinguished guests, my fellowVermonters:center_img We then took aggressive action to address our immediate economic future,made major commitments to puttingVermonters back to work, and reversed Vermont’s image as a place unfriendly tojob creation by passing the state’s largest jobs package and followingthe path outlined in my Plan for Prosperity. This unadorned, ageless declaration explainssuccinctly the deep inspiration within him and reminds us today of our ownresponsibilities.   *** The oppressive property tax burden is the single greatest threat toVermonters’ renowned resolve.  Property taxes continue to increase at more than double the rate ofinflation—and growth in the family checkbook—at a time when the number ofstudents in our classrooms is declining. We must work together to ease the weight of property taxes on workingVermonters—without shifting it to another tax.  To do that, we must cap propertytaxes. Vermont has a legacy of leadership that stretches back to the state’sfounding.  We will take thatheritage forward and become a leader in a new economic frontier – a system ofcontinual and substantial growth that harnesses our immeasurable intellectualwealth.   To do so, we mustbring together advancements in technology and education around the core of ourshared environmental ethic.  We mustjoin the best of our past with a resurgence of Vermont’s well-knownresourcefulness and inventiveness. Overall, Vermont’s global environmental footprint isquite light.  We have developed aresponsible and growing portfolio of renewable energy sources. We currentlycapture more greenhouse gas than we produce.    We were the first state tosign on to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and my administration adoptedtougher rules mandating California Emissions Standards for cars and trucks.  *** *** *** *** *** The Vermont Way Forward advances our traditionalindustries through pioneering approaches to rural development.  It protects our forests and fields fortime-honored uses and applies scientific innovation to speed the clean up of ourlakes and streams.  And itstrengthens Vermont’s agrarian roots with technology that allows farmers to growlocally but compete globally.   We will weave into our economy companies that share our sensible approachto protecting the environment.  Wewill cultivate innovators in environmental engineering and become the center forthe solutions of tomorrow, building on Lieutenant Governor Dubie’s vision of aGreen Valley. We have made enormous progress, but motor vehicles still account for 45%of greenhouse gas emissions in Vermont. To reduce emissions, lead us toward energy independence and expand themarket for environmentally preferable fuels, I offer four proposals: OFFICE OF THE GOVERNORInaugural Address of Governor James H.Douglas Our future is the very definition of Yankee ingenuity and is rootedfirmly in our traditions.  Afounding tenet of Vermont is creative adaptation – turning sap into syrup andselling it as gold – and our future will be built on that principle. Our approach will combine Vermont’s unparalleled environmental valueswith innovations in education and a telecommunications infrastructure superiorto that found in the most modern cities. I call this approach “The Vermont Way Forward” and it will positionVermont squarely ahead of forces driving the global economy. The Vermont Way Forward begins by reaffirming the importance of ournatural environment and our commitment to a balanced approach. The Vermont Way Forward will be built by Vermonters andemerge from markets that demand it; but, as a state, we must assemble thefoundation from which it will prosper.  I have met with Speaker Symington and Senator Shumlinand, while our approaches may differ, we agree the real culprit is unsustainableincreases in spending.  Like ourhealth care reform efforts, we need to work together, explore all options andfocus on containing costs, not on raising taxes.  Fifty years ago, on this same Thursday,Robert Stafford presided, as Lieutenant Governor, over a joint assembly asVermont’s officers took their oaths and Governor Joseph Johnson delivered hisinaugural address.  Our approach embraces our cherished natural environmentbeyond its bountiful material resources and focuses our industry on one of thegreatest engineering challenges of this century: finding practical environmentalsolutions that balance growth and resources around the world.  *** Young people entering the workforce need homes that aresafe and affordable.  Growingfamilies ascending the economic ladder deserve the peace of mind and convenienceof a welcoming neighborhood near where they work and where their children go toschool.   And the recruitmentof skilled employees should not be impeded by the lack of affordable homes.  Ladies and gentlemen, please join me inhonoring the extraordinary life of Robert T. Stafford.  Our oaths are taken, according to our customs andtraditions, in public ceremony—symbolizing the covenant into which we haveentered.   We solemnize,through our words, a relationship that has at its core the noble virtue oftrust.  Vermont has joined the 25 x ‘25 alliance to advancerenewable energy solutions with the goal to produce 25% of our energy fromrenewable sources by 2025.  Andstate government is a leader in reducing greenhouse gases through myComprehensive Environmental & Resource Management program.  We renewed our commitment to Vermont’s hardworkingtaxpayers by passing only balanced budgets.   Vermonters expect us to befiscally responsible and live within our means.  The budget I present to you for thecoming fiscal year will once again be in full balance and reflect the prioritiesof the people of our state. last_img

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