Vermont Business Magazine Governor Phil Scott today commemorated his first 100 days as Vermont’s 82nd Governor, thanking his staff and detailing priorities for the coming months. In a press release issued Tuesday, he shared his thoughts and outlined his administrations accomplishments through the first three months since he took office. The governor reiterated that he is committed to growing the economy, making Vermont more affordable, and protecting the most vulnerable, while focusing on initiatives that will help address those three core challenges.
With an aging population and stagnant population growth, Vermont has been losing an average of six workers from its workforce and three students from its schools per day for the last several years, he said. As the opiate epidemic continues to impact the entire state, Vermont has also seen nearly one child a day born exposed to drugs.
“The challenges we face are real, but by recognizing the urgent need to address them and rethinking our policies and how state government works, we will reverse these trends, improve outcomes for Vermonters and change the economic trajectory of the state,” Scott said in the statement.
Joined by members of his Cabinet, Scott detailed early progress and achievements in moving a pro-growth agenda forward, recognizing the hard work of his team and all state employees.
“To make progress, we’ve built a strong leadership team that is dedicated to growing the economy and making Vermont more affordable, and is committed to listening to, and learning from, the restless innovators and career state employees on the frontlines,” said Gov. Scott. “My team will remain laser focused on my strategic priorities, making government work better for the people we serve and getting real results in the areas that matter most. We must grow the workforce in order to grow the economy, invest in our future and care for the most vulnerable – and that means we have to make Vermont more affordable for families and businesses. That’s the bottom line.”
Specifically, Scott highlighted the Administration’s activities in the first 100 days, including more than 30 commitments kept in just over three months in office. Those efforts include prioritizing workforce and economic development, initiatives supporting affordable housing for working families, efforts to modernize state government and improve efficiency, and an education proposal creating a cradle-to-career continuum of learning that supports students, strengthens our workforce and would make Vermont an education destination for young families.
Scott said he has also followed through on his commitment not to propose, or sign, a budget or bill that adds new taxes and fees or increases spending faster than growth in the economy or average wages, whichever is lower.
In January, he proposed a balanced budget that invested in economic development, workforce training, addressing the opiate epidemic and protecting impaired waterways, without raising taxes and fees – including property taxes – or cutting programs that support the most vulnerable. The budget approved by the House of Representatives does not add new taxes and fees either and the Governor said he is optimistic the Senate will also support his approach.
Looking ahead, Governor Scott also detailed priority initiatives for the next 100 days. These include ensuring the final Fiscal Year 2018 budget does not rely on new taxes and fees, working with the legislature to pass a housing proposals designed to increase the affordable housing stock for working families, implementing government modernization initiatives like the Agency of Digital Services and deploying additional action steps to streamline the permitting process.
“It is critical that we all recognize the urgent need to act, and to ensure Vermonters and businesses get a break from the continuously increasing costs of living and doing business,” added Gov. Scott. “I’m very pleased with the progress we’re making, and the important conversations we’re having – but there is much more work to do over the next 21 months of this term. There is a sense of optimism I’m seeing as I travel the state. Vermonters know that if we all pull in the same direction – if we make the economy and affordability our focus and work hard to make change – we can chart a course to a more prosperous future and make a difference in the lives of Vermonters.”
The Scott Administration’s First 100 Days
A Foundation for Growth
Efforts To Grow The Economy:
-- Signed an executive order outlining strategic priorities to grow the economy, make Vermont more affordable and protect the most vulnerable, and directed the Administration to make them the cornerstone of everything they do, following through on commitment to make the economy and affordability top priorities.
-- Made two commerce trips to Quebec and one to Ontario, meeting with government partners to enhance trade relationships and discuss opportunities, following through on commitment to enhance these relationships. The Department of Economic Development is continuing recruitment discussions with nearly a dozen businesses met during these trips, and the Vermont Chamber of Commerce is leading work to grow the Vermont-Quebec Aerospace Corridor.
-- Proposed $750,000 for economic development marketing in FY18 budget. The Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) is implementing an economic development marketing plan, including the impending launch of a new website, working towards the Governor's commitment to implement an aggressive, reinvigorated marketing campaign for the state.
-- Provided initial approval for $2.4 million in VEGI incentives for four companies to create more than 150 jobs, helping spur $62 million in Vermont between 2017 and 2021.
-- Proposed restoring the Vermont research and development tax credit to 30% of the Federal Research Activities Credit in the Governor’s budget, as committed to during the campaign.
-- Proposed increases to the downtown and village center tax credit by $200,000 to be used for opening innovation centers in regions that currently do not have one, as part of his commitment to establish innovation centers in rural Vermont.
-- Department of Financial Regulation (DFR) filed rule change papers that will go into effect in April that ease regulation on crowdfunding, as committed to during the campaign.
-- Proposed an extension of the sales tax exemption on aerospace parts in budget and as part of an economic development bill, as committed to during the campaign.
-- As part of commitment to revitalize the State's relationship with the Agriculture community: o Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (AAFM) finalized an Environmental Stewardship program to recognize farmers that achieve environmental excellence through land stewardship.
o AAFM held five listening sessions statewide and is incorporating feedback into daily activities, including an effort to improve customer service and responsiveness, and set internal deadlines for permit decisions.
o Overall, AAFM has seen 12 new dairy plant facilities under or completing construction this year. These are the start-up companies that help our rural economy, and the Agency plays a critical role by giving these companies technical assistance.
-- DFR launched a task force charged with making recommendations to enhance the financial markets in Vermont and promote the development of new markets within the quickly evolving Financial Technology industry.
-- Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) supported the burgeoning Vermont craft beer business sector with “Brewery Day,” providing outreach to help breweries and consultants navigate and comply with regulatory requirements governing beer brewing facilities.
-- Directed the Tax Department to identify ways to implement a "flipper incentive" that would drive redevelopment of existing housing stock, as committed to during the campaign.
-- As part of commitment to create a designation to prioritize funding and home building for middle income housing, the Administration introduced S.100 (now included in S.135), which will enhance priority housing projects. In communities who have adopted smart growth measures and have a population greater than 10,000 people, S.100 is removing the need for those housing projects to go through Act 250.
-- Support H.50, legislation passed through the House that would extend the sunset on 248a rules for communication infrastructure, following through on commitment to extend the current rules.
-- Public Service Department (PSD) completed the construction of the Central Greens Fiber Project, which consists of 100 miles of new fiber optic cable in the towns of Bethel, Stockbridge, Pittsfield, Rochester, and Hancock. This fiber can be used by multiple telecommunications service providers and can bring fiber-to-the-premises to areas where there has been limited fiber available to date, contributing to Governor's commitment to build out the remaining miles of broadband.
-- Tasked Agency of Transportation (AOT) with updating the long-term vision for transportation to target and promote commerce, tourism, road safety, preventative maintenance environmental conservation, vehicle innovation, and economic growth, following through on a commitment made during the campaign.
-- As part of commitment to improve permitting processes: o ANR is working to identify opportunities to streamline the permitting process and make Act 250 easier to navigate, while upholding environmental standards, as committed to during the campaign.
o ANR, with representatives from District Planning Commissions, conducted a listening tour to learn more about the challenges people face in the permitting process. Feedback from the tour will be used to improve processes.
o The ANR, ACCD, AOT, and AAFM, along with the Natural Resources Board – which all interact with the permit process – are coordinating on improvements to the permitting system. The goal is to make the permitting process more customer friendly, without loosening any environmental or safety standards. The team is currently developing updated practices for better access to shared data.
-- Proposed $150,000 for the Agency of Education (AOE) to support career and technical education and among other investments in trades training, as part of commitment to invest in technical and trade education.
-- As part of commitment to prioritize spending in workforce development the Governor: o Proposed an additional $1 million for adult non-degree education and training through VSAC's grant program in budget and an additional $4 million for higher education tied to workforce development goals.
o Deployed $700,000 in grants through the Vermont Training Program to train 532 workers at 22 businesses.
o ACCD and AOE are participating a Talent Pipeline Management project with public and private entities, developing employer-driven training programs that will better connect employers to workers trained with essential skills. Pilot projects in advanced manufacturing and healthcare sectors are underway.
-- Instructed the Department of Labor (DOL) to review and refocus the State Workforce Development Board, a Board that is staffed with CEO's, employees, labor community representatives and others. DOL has reviewed the Board's strategies, goals, and the regulations that impact it, and is developing a plan to better utilize the Board to rebuild and strengthen Vermont's workforce.
-- Proposed a $200,000 increase for the Vermont Training Fund in his budget proposal, following through on commitment to invest in this program.
-- Proposed legislation to evaluate using portion of state's annual share of revenues from each VEGI award and other funding sources to incrementally increase our investments in workforce development, as committed to during the campaign.
Efforts To Make Vermont More Affordable:
-- Following through on a campaign commitment, the Governor's budget was balanced without new taxes and fees - including property taxes. The budget passed by the House also does not rely on new taxes and fees. Further, the Governor has not and will not sign a bill that adds new taxes and fees.
-- Signed an executive order establishing a Government Modernization and Efficiency Team (GMET) charged with finding operational efficiencies and making recommendations to improve state government processes, fulfilling a campaign commitment.
-- Signed Executive Order establishing Program to Improve Outcomes Together (PIVOT), which will support the implementation of recommendations from GMET, as part of commitment to increase efficiency of state government. PIVOT initiatives to date include: o Holding 2 Boot Camp training sessions for extended cabinet;
o Establishing PIVOT teams for all agencies & independent departments;
o Training 7 PIVOT team leads;
o Training 198 State employees in Basics of PIVOT;
o Holding 7 workshops with agency and department PIVIOT Teams;
o Inventorying Service Domains, programs and activities across state government.
-- Signed an executive order forming the Agency of Digital services, aligning the State's IT portfolio and project management under one unified agency to make state government more modern, nimble and efficient, and to increase accountability of IT project management.
-- Proposed the merger of the Department of Liquor Control with the Vermont Lottery Commission to eliminate duplicative processes, improve accountability, and realize cost savings to maximize revenue for the State.
-- Proposed an alignment of the ACCD and the DOL to directly connect the needs of our employers and workforce.
-- Department of Buildings and General Services' (BGS) State Fleet management program is deploying a pilot program that uses Telemetrics to measure vehicle usage to optimize vehicle allocation, reducing expenses. Additionally, this program will provide enhanced security to field employees as the Telemetrics system includes a panic button to alert emergency responders of location.
-- BGS reorganized to better align functions, providing greater consistency of operations and maintenance statewide, better integrating senior leadership into capital projects, and developing a more robust planning process. BGS also established a working group between Projects and Purchasing to improve efficiency of project development and contracting process.
-- Administration Procurement Office developed an Asset Management Procedure Manual to ensure accurate and efficient tracking of all Department of Public Safety (DPS) assets, which will ensure improved single audit outcomes and reduced costs.
-- ACCD and the AOT created a unified online grants management portal, leading to significant cost savings, reduction in staff time. The system provides a single grant management and reporting tool for organizations doing business with the State.
-- Through the LEAN process being implemented under the Governor's PIVOT program, the Tax Department implemented a new procedure in the paper-filed tax return data verification process, resulting in faster processing of paper-filed tax returns, reduced staff time and cost savings.
-- Championed a vision for a cradle-to-career continuum of learning and reprioritization of education funding to make Vermont an education destination for families while holding property taxes level for FY18, as part of commitment to make education one of the key building blocks of a strategy to grow the economy and make Vermont more affordable.
-- Proposed increasing funding for child care subsidies by $7.5 million and created grant programs totaling $2.1 million for child care and pre-K programs in Governor's budget, as part of commitment to enhance early education opportunities and make child care more affordable.
-- As part of a commitment to put healthcare reform back on track, including access to a working health exchange, the Administration proposed direct enrollment with insurance companies, rather than through Vermont Health Connect, for those not using subsidies for health insurance. With the national reform debate on hold, Vermont's Health Reform team is exploring plans to improve reliability of the health exchange.
-- Launched the Medicaid Next Generation Accountable Care Organization pilot program, which aims to make health care more affordable and accessible by empowering an ACO provider network of nearly 2,000 unique health care providers to care for approximately 30,000 Vermonters. The program is designed to incentivize quality care, with anticipated cost savings and improved outcomes.
-- Tasked the Government Modernization and Efficiency Team with identifying ways to reduce Medicaid administrative costs to FY11 levels, as committed to during the campaign.
-- Department of Financial Regulation approved a 7.9% decrease in the cost of workers’ compensation insurance, effective April 1, 2017, which will directly lower the cost of doing business in Vermont.
-- The Department of Corrections oversaw the reopening of the Caledonia work camp, lowering the population at the St. Johnsbury and Rutland regional facilities to enhance safety at those facilities. The Governor also approved 29 correctional officer positions in a pilot program, which expects to dramatically reduce overtime costs and enhance facility safety and security.
-- AAFM, working with the House Appropriations Committee, has written a two-year budget as part of a pilot of a two-year budgeting cycle – a process championed by the Governor during the campaign.
Efforts To Protect The Vulnerable
-- Proposed a budget that was balanced without cutting services for vulnerable Vermonters.
-- Proposed investments in judiciary programs to increase public safety and support children impacted by the opioid epidemic.
-- Proposed legislation with Attorney General T.J. Donovan and lawmakers to ensure local law enforcement would not be deputized to carry out federal immigration enforcement functions, and prevent state participation in any federal registry based on personal characteristics such as religious beliefs, sexual orientation or immigration status. Signed this legislation into law in April.
-- Advocated for maintaining coverage levels for Vermonters during "repeal and replace" healthcare reform discussion in Washington.
-- Met with Vermont's hospital treatment centers and designated agencies during the transition period to determine how we can further assist them in recruitment and retention efforts, as committed to during the campaign.
-- As part of commitment to protect residents of Bennington County impacted by PFOA contamination, ANR continues to work with the Town of Bennington and Village of North Bennington and their engineers to advance the design of water line extensions. ANR is currently reviewing the critical 20% engineering designs and has authorized the completion of all subsequent designs. The water line extensions are part of ANR’s efforts to develop a long-term remedy for homes impacted by PFOA contamination.
-- ANR issued 27 drinking water infrastructure planning grants to municipalities, improving the municipalities ability to deliver clean, safe drinking water to Vermonters.
-- Signed an executive order establishing an Opioid Coordination Council to lead and strengthen Vermont's response to the opiate crisis, as committed to during the campaign.
Signed an executive order that created the Director of Drug Policy and Prevention, as committed to during the campaign, and appointed Jolinda LaClair to the position.
-- Directed agencies and departments to prioritize opportunities to respond to opiate crisis and support those impacted, via Executive Order 01-17, as committed to during the campaign.
-- Held a Substance Use Disorder Summit in partnership with Vermont State Colleges, focused on strategies for attracting, retaining and supporting substance use disorder counselors, as part of commitments to recruit and retain mental health professionals and how to host an annual statewide summit on drug abuse prevention.
-- Department of Financial Regulation introduced legislation implementing tougher penalties on those committing financial crimes against seniors.
-- Vermont Drug Task Force conducted several arrest operations in connection with heroin and crack cocaine distribution investigations. More than 50 people were arrested for distribution of heroin in Rutland, Bennington, Washington and Orleans Counties.
-- The Department of Health's Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) program was honored with the Antonia Brancia Maxon Award for noteworthy contributions in achieving excellence in EHDI programs nationally. Over 99% of infants born in Vermont receive a hearing screening.
-- Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living (DAIL) partnered with the Department of Mental Health and the Division of Rate Setting to create a tier of nursing facility special rates for people with unique behavioral and psychiatric needs when they leave hospital settings. This work is aimed at supporting the flow between high level psychiatric placements and less restrictive and less expensive nursing facility settings.
-- Continued to work to make those impacted by the fraud relating to EB-5 projects in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom whole, and announced a $150 million settlement agreement with financial firm Raymond James Financial, Inc.
Efforts To Improve Government Operations & Service
-- Governor Scott elected as Vice Chair of the Coalition of Northeastern Governors (CONEG).
-- Appointed Judge Karen Russell Carroll to the Supreme Court of Vermont.
-- DPS is working to enhance communication and collaboration with local law enforcement offices, including through regular meetings, improved coordination and training to safely field testing for fentanyl, and E911 support.
-- The Vermont State Police (VSP) continue to improve on Fair and Impartial Policing (FIP). VSP has: o Conducted an analysis of 2016 traffic stop data, showing a significant decrease in the racial disparity of drivers stopped for traffic violations.
o Completed FIP training for all members holding the rank of captain and below, including administrative staff, in standardized data collection.
o Working to create a version of this training for local departments and sheriffs to use, so that data quality will be improved statewide.
o Continues widespread community outreach efforts, with a focus on improving response to persons with mental illness and domestic violence, racial justice, criminal justice reform, and recruiting a diverse membership.
-- VSP increased focus on cybercrime by reviewing cyber-attack protocols and creating a new detective position assigned as a Cyber Crime Investigator. This detective will be assigned to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cyber Task Force and will work closely with a cyber analyst at the Vermont Intelligence Center.
-- VSP restructured its recruiting unit to address increased challenges in recruiting a qualified and diverse applicant pool. These changes have significantly increased recruiting at job fairs and recruiting events, including attendance at specialized diversity events identified through new partnerships centered on our commitment to fair and impartial policing.
-- Division of Fire Safety is working to expedite permits for certain work projects, including fire alarm systems, pre-engineered suppression systems, small sprinkler systems, and other construction projects. Improved processes have expedited hundreds of projects.
-- Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS) delivered statewide Spring Flooding Briefings to inform local partners about how state agencies and federal partners work together with local first responders before, during and after a flooding event.
-- DEMHS has finalized the State Emergency Operations Center Exercise Plan for the next 3 years.
-- BGS is making physical security improvements to district State office buildings, including break resistant glass, panic and lockdown buttons, cameras and new electronic locks. In addition, it developed a State security plan focused on employee training, threat assessment, physical security improvements and additional security personnel, and negotiated a new statewide contract with the sheriffs to purchase security support services at a lower cost.
-- ANR added 3,000 acres to the Bird Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Ira and Poultney. This is the largest addition to a Vermont WMA in more than a decade, meaning more land for wildlife and Vermont hunters, anglers and trappers.
-- ANR has formally launch its Cut with Confidence Campaign with partner organizations. The campaign addresses topics including wildlife, water, economics, and working with foresters and loggers.
-- As part of commitment to protect Vermont's impaired waterways, the Governor's budget proposed $50 million over FY18-19 to advance critical clean water infrastructure, and ANR worked to ensure inclusion of this funding in House budget proposal.
-- As part of commitment to protect our ridgelines from wind development, the PSD has: o Pushed for stringent noise standards to be adopted for wind generators.
o Broadened the policy debate by insisting that the aesthetic impacts of noise from wind turbines receive careful consideration in the regulatory licensing process.
o Published written guidance for communities writing Act 174 energy plans that supports their flexibility to set generation targets and to define the mix of generation technologies they think is appropriate for their communities.
o Invited towns and regional commissions to submit energy plans for Act 174 certification even if these plans limit the siting of wind technology to only small-scale, residential wind turbines.
o Clearly communicated with trade partners that while wind generation projects are welcome, we are not open to siting projects on our ridgelines.
-- Following through on a commitment to listen to, and respect the will of communities in Public Service Board proceedings, attorneys at the PSD are reaching out to communities to understand concerns in cases and filings and to provide help to citizens who are trying to participate. PSD helped persuade the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to attend a public meeting later this year in where local communities will have a chance to directly relay concerns to the NRC about the decommissioning of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station in Vernon.
-- Agency of Transportation deployed a winter storm reporting app for District staff to better track and respond to storms.
-- Attended over 100 events and travelled to over 30 Vermont towns and cities, engaging directly with Vermonters.
-- Appointed Rep. Jim Harrison of North Chittenden and Rep. Terry Norris of Shoreham to the Vermont House of Representatives.
-- Vermont Center for Geographic Information launched an Open Geodata Portal - a one-stop-shop for free public access to the State’s authoritative data, from Town boundaries and e911 addresses to aerial imagery & lidar
Source: Governor 4.18.2017