By JOHN MCCLAUGHRY
Here are 16 incisive questions that citizens might want to pose to candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and the Legislature as Election Day 2018 approaches:
1. School Spending Control: Do you believe the state should take control of all K-12 public education, reorganize school districts, mandate higher pupil-to-staff ratios, and enforce rules to control school spending?
2. Paying for Education: Do you support increasing income or sales tax rates to further subsidize residential school property taxes?
3. Parental Choice: Do you support protecting parental choice in education and expanding it to all pupils and parents?
4. School Consolidation: Do you support Act 46 from 2015 that requires consolidation of town school districts into larger unified districts?
5. Minimum Wage: Do you support a state law requiring that all employers pay their employees $15 an hour by 2020?
6. Parental Leave: Do you support mandating employers of more than 10 employees to offer 12 weeks of parental leave per year, for pregnancy, birth, adoption or serious illness, paid for by a payroll tax paid by all covered employers?
7. Energy Mandate: Do you support the state adopting whatever regulations, mandates, subsidies and taxes that may be required to make 90 percent of all energy used in Vermont come from renewable sources, such as wind, solar and hydro, by 2050?
8. Carbon Tax: Do you support enactment of a carbon tax on fossil fuels, such as natural gas, heating oil, gasoline, diesel fuel and propane, with the net revenues used to subsidize renewable energy production and the electric bills of low-income and rural Vermonters (the ESSEX Plan)?
9. Land Use Regulation: Do you support making a proposed development achieve net zero carbon dioxide emissions (to combat “climate change”) a condition for obtaining a permit under Act 250?
10. Pension Fund Solvency: Do you support the voting of additional funds beyond the “annual required contribution” to the state employees and teachers retirement funds, in order to work down the present $4.5 billion unfunded liability?
11. Health Insurance Mandate: Do you support the state levying special taxes or fines, or suspending drivers, hunting, fishing and other licenses upon individuals who refuse to purchase state-approved health insurance on the Vermont Health Connect exchange?
12. Health Care Reorganization: Do you support creating a mandatory-participation “all payer” health care system, whereby Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance carriers pay a large accountable care organization of hospitals, clinics and doctors to manage the health care of the families they cover?
13. Gun Control: Do you support repeal of the provision of Act 94 of 2018 that makes it illegal for an individual to possess a firearms magazine holding more than 10 rounds for a rifle or 15 rounds for a handgun (unless he or she possessed the magazine before Oct. 1)?
14. Mandatory Seat Belt Usage: Do you support allowing law enforcement to issue tickets to adult drivers, who are not otherwise committing an offense, for driving without a buckled seat belt?
15. Marijuana: Do you support setting up a state-regulated system for the retail sale and taxation of marijuana?
16. Ballot Reform: Do you support changing election law so that voters would cast a single “one big choice” vote for their preferred governor-lieutenant governor team, and the Legislature would elect the treasurer, secretary of state, auditor and attorney general as they do the adjutant general?
Try out the questions that interest you on your candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, House and Senate. If they can’t give you a coherent reply, look for others who can.
John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute. This commentary appeared on VtDigger.org.