The Upcoming Session--Some of the Issues
By Sen. Dick McCormack
The coming session, which begins January 4th, will present challenging questions. (The easy questions answer themselves.) These, following, are some of the big ones.
Implementation of Act 46 has proven difficult for folks at the local level. How to consolidate choice and non-choice towns? What to do about overly long school bus rides? Whether, and how, to preserve small schools? And, of course, the original question that motivated Act 46 in the first place remains, how to coax school taxes down. Having opposed Act 46, I have no schadenfreude about its difficulty. The task now is to make the needed changes to make things work.
Universal access to affordable, quality health care remains elusive. Since this has proven doable in other countries, I can’t believe it’s actually as difficult as it seems. I think the problem is mostly a lack of political will to go all the way and establish a real Single Payer system. I remain skeptical of the All Payer approach.
The drug epidemic continues to destroy some people’s lives and to diminish everyone’s. Our best efforts notwithstanding, addiction is rooted in the mysteries of the human psyche, and once established makes its own rules. So, simple solutions don’t work. As the “War on Drugs” has sadly proven, we can’t arrest our way out of the problem. Neither can we rehab our way out. But, that said, I think we’re basically right to treat addiction as a sickness and drug selling as a crime. Limiting access to prescription pain killers is important, but I remain committed as well to ensuring that such limits don’t interfere with legitimate pain relief. Feeding an addiction is compulsive behavior over which an addict has no control, or very little control. But starting down the road to addiction is a series of free will acts. We need to head off the first use of addictive drugs. Easier said than done.
Our revenues are chronically inadequate to meet the real needs of the people. I often hear and read complaints about “out of control spending” but in fact we work hard to keep spending down, and we underfund many important government functions. This gap is likely to become more of a problem as things develop at the national level.
In the coming weeks I will keep you abreast of how these and other issues unfold. In the meantime, I invite your thoughts on these and other issues important to you. Please call, write or come to the State House in Montpelier to let me know what’s on your mind. My number is 802-793-6417. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sen. McCormack with constituents in the Cedar Creek Room at the Vermont State House
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