Early this year, guitarist and bandleader Scott Sharrard revealed plans for The Gregg Allman Band to enter the studio to record original material, rumored to be called All Compositions By Gregg Allman. The session is currently going down at the legendary Fame Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals, where Allman has plenty of history already. Gregg Allman Reveals The Lineup For The First Of His Five ‘Laid Back’ FestivalsAccording to a heartfelt message from Sharrard’s Facebook page, this is “Gregg’s first studio album with his own band since the 1980’s (Searching for Simplicity and Low Country Blues were done with mostly studio sidemen instead of Gregg’s touring band).”Allman Brothers‘ percussionist Marc Quiñones is in the band, as well as bassist Ron Johnson, saxophonists Art Edmaiston and Jay Collins, trumpeter Marc Franklin, keyboardist Peter Levin, and drummer Steve Potts. They’ve got Don Was as their producer and are recording songs co-written by Allman and Sharrard, as well as some Scott Sharrard Band covers, like “Love Like Kerosene”. [All photos courtesy of Matt Butler]If you haven’t experienced Gregg Allman with his new band, we highly recommend it. The band takes a refreshed approach to some original ABB tunes, while also introducing more recent work by Allman and Sharrard. Take a listen to their freshly-imagined rendition of ‘Whipping Post’:You can also catch Gregg Allman Band at Red Rocks this summer, as well as at Wanee and Peach Music Festival.
Everybody’s favorite Pink Floyd, Talking Heads, Phish tribute band is gearing up for a busy summer. Pink Talking Fish is going straight weekend warrior style during the summer season, with appearances at a number of festivals (StrangeCreek, Disc Jam, Backwoods Pondfest, and more), as well as a couple of Phish after-parties at The Vic Theatre in Chicago on June 25th, Putnam Den post-SPAC on July 2nd, and after Phish Dick’s at Dulcineas in Colorado on Sept. 1st and 2nd.Pink Talking Fish’s Eric Gould Gets Us Excited For Their Chicago Throwdown Post-PhishEric Gould and company will also be playing two shows in one night in New York City, aboard the Rocks Off Boat Cruise on July 8th. You can see the full tour schedule below.Pink Talking Fish Summer 2016 Tour Dates5/27: MAYfest Music Art Yoga in Cold Spring NY – w/s/g Elise Testone on vocals5/29: StrangeCreek Campout 2016 (_Official_) in Greenfield MA – Late Night Set!6/09: Disc Jam Music Festival in Stephentown NY – Headlining Thursday night6/23: Northeast Fair in Pittston PA – Carnival!6/25: The Vic Theatre in Chicago IL – Phish After-Party (less than 10 minute walk from Wrigley!)7/01: Paradise On The Point in Cincinnati OH – Free Outdoor Concert Series7/02: Putnam Den in Saratoga Springs NY – Phish After-Party7/08: Rocks Off Cruise in New York NY – 2 Cruises in 1 Day7/16: Lake Champlain Concert Cruise in Burlington VT7/17: Rock On! Concerts Cruise in Boston MA7/19: MEZZANINE in San Francisco CA – Phish After-Party7/22-23: Jerry Jam in Bath NH7/29: Grateful Getdown in Shartlesville PA8/04: Ocean Mist in Kingstown RI8/05: Backwoods Pondfest in Peru NY – PTF is Bowie concept8/19: Wellfleet Beachcomber in Wellfleet MA – Cape Cod Beach Party!8/31: The Fox Theatre in Boulder CO – Phish Pre-Party9/01-02: Dulcineas in Denver CO – Phish Pre-Party & After-Party
A mosquito genetically modified to fight Zika virus, dengue fever, and other mosquito-borne ailments is being reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for possible release in Florida. The mosquito is programmed to pass along a lethal gene to offspring. The company behind the project, Oxitec Ltd., has reported a 90 percent decrease in the mosquito population in experimental releases in Brazil, Panama, and the Cayman Islands. That success hasn’t stopped some observers from airing concerns on the potential for unintended environmental consequences.The Gazette sought insight on those concerns and others from Flaminia Catteruccia, an associate professor of immunology and infectious diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.GAZETTE: I want to talk about the Zika virus and the genetically modified mosquito that might be released down in Florida. What can you tell us about that mosquito and how might it be useful?CATTERUCCIA: It’s the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which are very good vectors and can actually harbor and transmit many viruses — including the Zika and dengue viruses. Originally Florida had been planning … on using transgenic mosquitoes, the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, against dengue virus. But now the same strategy can also be implemented against transmission of Zika.The idea is to modify the mosquito genome so they will not be able to reproduce and propagate. You can generate in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes toxins that are repressed in the laboratory. … But once the mosquito is released, the repressor is not there anymore, the toxin gets activated, and the mosquito is killed.The toxin is active during the early development of larvae. So if the mosquitoes are released and mate with the wild-type mosquito, their progeny would all have the toxin. If a larva has the toxin and it doesn’t have the repressor, it would not be able to reproduce for the next generation. You would reduce the number of mosquitoes in that generation.GAZETTE: So the effect would be to essentially eliminate a generation of mosquitoes?CATTERUCCIA: Exactly, though you would not eliminate, you would reduce the number of mosquitoes in the next generation. You would keep releasing these mosquitoes and target the entire population over a period of time. It would eventually lead to suppression of the field population. There would be fewer and fewer mosquitoes that can transmit disease. This is an idea that has been already tested … in the Caribbean and Brazil, and they were successful to a certain extent.GAZETTE: So it’s aimed at the mosquito and not at Zika specifically? So every other disease — dengue and other diseases which that particular mosquito also transmits — would also be reduced?CATTERUCCIA: Exactly.GAZETTE: What are the chances that the mosquitoes might survive this preprogrammed self-destruction?CATTERUCCIA: Mosquitoes are highly flexible organisms that have evolved resistance to pretty much everything we’ve done to them. We’ve used insecticides that are very potent, very toxic, but mosquitoes have become resistant to their action. It’s [also] possible that they will evolve resistance to mechanisms that are actually incorporated in their DNA. If the toxin is not very effective or if there’s a mutation so that mosquitoes have a higher metabolism to remove the toxin, then, slowly, the system would lose its power and the genetically modified mosquitoes would reproduce and spread again.GAZETTE: So worst case is we’re back where we are now?CATTERUCCIA: Yes, though there could be a slight modification, if they go through a population bottleneck, reduce in numbers, and expand again.GAZETTE: You’ve done similar work with the malaria mosquito?CATTERUCCIA: Yes. The concept is the same for all disease-transmitting insects: If you can eliminate them, you eliminate the disease. It’s not a new idea to suppress insect populations; it’s been around 50 to 60 years.The idea of sterilization as a technique to reduce mosquito populations is based on the release of sterile males, in general, because females bite and can still transmit disease. The males go out in the field and they mate with the females, but there’s no progeny because the males are sterile. And eventually there are crashes in the population. It has been successful.GAZETTE: An important factor, though, is that the females only mate once, is that right?CATTERUCCIA: This works with females who mate multiple times, but is particularly effective with females who mate just once. This system works if the released males can successfully compete for mating against field males who are not sterile.GAZETTE: You’re also working on a gene drive to make the mosquitoes immune to the malaria parasite.CATTERUCCIA: Yes. This is a very hot topic of research at the moment. The mosquitoes, after all, are just carriers of the parasite and the virus. So what if we make the mosquito incapable of transmitting the disease? We don’t actually interfere with their population structure, keep the population the same, but we introduce factors that kill the parasite.Not all mosquitoes transmit parasites and viruses. Some mosquitoes are actually refractory. What if we could engineer that refractoriness into mosquitoes that transmit disease and make them incapable of carrying parasites and virus?The problem is how to introduce this refractoriness into mosquitoes. That’s where the gene drive comes into the picture. The gene drive is an element that can spread through the population fast and in a non-Mendelian fashion.GAZETTE: What about people who say we’re asking for trouble here, risking unintended consequences with either gene drives or the GM mosquito down in Florida?CATTERUCCIA: I share those concerns. I think any modification of the environment should be tested carefully in the laboratory and in confined conditions. Studies have been carried out against agricultural insects that were wiped out in certain areas, and they weren’t followed up by studies about possible ecological harm in the following years.It is very difficult to predict what will happen if you remove mosquitoes from the ecosystem, but there are not many organisms that feed on a specific and exclusive mosquito diet. Probably the food chain will not be much affected by targeting a specific species — not all mosquitoes. All these genetic [approaches] are very specific. You target one mosquito species at a time, which is very different from insecticides that can kill not just all mosquitoes, but all insects. So the specificity of the system means that the impact on the environment will be minimal.When you release something that has a gene drive, however, could it potentially jump into other organisms, from the species that you released into a sister species? The chances are low, but it could happen. Gene drives [also] do not have boundaries and could spread to neighboring countries. So any release would have to be modifiable. Any release should be reversible. One of the things I’ve been discussing with [Harvard geneticist] George Church is that any gene drive mechanism should have a counter-drive mechanism … so the spread could be blocked and reversed. These are countermeasures that should be in place in case something goes wrong.One needs to be very, very careful. If you use a gene that kills the plasmodium parasite in mosquitoes, how will it behave with other pathogens? Will it affect, for instance, insecticide resistance? If you affect dengue, how will that behave with yellow fever or now Zika virus? There are some things that can and should be done. There are lots of questions to be addressed before we can safely release them.GAZETTE: So do you feel that the release of these mosquitoes in Florida is a good idea or is it premature?CATTERUCCIA: Florida has the means to deal with the possible negative consequences, [though] I’m not convinced this strategy will work in the long term.It might work for a few years or for a few seasons but resistance may spread in. This mosquito is highly resilient and highly adaptable. It is widespread around the globe. They’re a highly invasive species with a presence in the Caribbean and South America. If wiped out in Florida, how do you avoid the reintroduction of this mosquito? Then we’re back where we initially were.They definitely should have a long-term plan. What happens the year after and the year after that is not clear. That’s what I would like to see before getting behind the release in the environment. It’s not a final step against these mosquitoes. We will have to deal with them again.
NEW YORK (AP) — Declaring “God is on your side,” a Roman Catholic cardinal, an archbishop and six other U.S. bishops are declaring their support for LGBT youth and denouncing the bullying often directed at them. It comes in a statement released by the Tyler Clementi Foundation, named for the Rutgers University student who took his own life in 2010 after being targeted by online harassment. Among those signing the statement are Cardinal Joseph Tobin, the archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, and Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Catholic teaching holds that LGBT people should be respected, loved and not discriminated against, but considers homosexual activity “intrinsically disordered.”
Throughout this week, the Saint Mary’s Dance Marathon fundraising committee will host various events for Riley Week on the Saint Mary’s campus, including a pizza party and yoga, according to junior Marissa Galloway.“This year, we tried to incorporate new events that would be popular among the student body,” Galloway said. “We are really excited about our pizza party. We got a lot of support from the South Bend community.“We are inviting the entire student body for $5, and the registered dancers get in for free. We will have tons of food from different restaurants like Domino’s, Jimmy Johns, Chipotle and Hacienda.”Sophomore Maranda Pennington said Riley Week is a push to promote the Dance Marathon, which is set to take place March 28, as well as support Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis.“[Riley Week] is important because it is a whole week dedicated to an amazing cause,” Pennington said. “It is a chance for more students to learn about what exactly Dance Marathon members do and also how they can contribute. One of our main goals this year is to increase participation.”Galloway said Dance Marathon is, above all, about the patients at Riley. She said students who attend Dance Marathon will find that they are taking part in something greater than themselves.“I know that when I look back on my childhood, my favorite memories consist of swimming in my pool with my sisters, having sleepovers with my friends and playing kickball with the neighbors,” Galloway said. “That isn’t the case for the kids at Riley. Their memories consist of treatments and hospital visits.“We do all of this for those kids. Throughout Riley Week, we want to create awareness for Riley’s Children’s Hospital and how raising money can enhance their [patients’] quality of life because they truly deserve it. We don’t realize how lucky we truly are.”“All of our funds go directly to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis,” Pennington said. “The money raised assists children and families in need and improves the quality of care experienced at Riley.”Galloway said students should become involved with Dance Marathon because it brings people together for a worthy cause.“I think that a huge part of college is becoming involved in clubs and organizations,” Galloway said. “With Dance Marathon, you realize that what you are doing is for a much greater good. I have developed incredibly close relationships with other students that I wouldn’t have even had the privilege of meeting.“We all work very closely together. We are like puzzle pieces and when one is missing, things start to fall apart. We all rely on each other, and it creates an amazing atmosphere. Each year, we strive to become better and better and to raise more money for Riley Children’s Hospital.”Pennington said the Dance Marathon committee will be holding registration for the event throughout the week.Tags: Dance Marathon, Riley Children’s Hospital, Riley Week, saint mary’s, SMC
Observer File Photo Jan Cervelli, pictured, resigned as Saint Mary’s College President on Friday. Former Provost Nancy Nekvasil will act as Interim President of the College until the summer of 2020.“I wanted to make you aware of an immediate change in our Saint Mary’s family,” Burke said in the letter. “Earlier this week, President Cervelli informed the Board of Trustees of her intent to resign. We appreciate all that she has contributed to Saint Mary’s during her tenure here and we wish her the best. We are grateful for her leadership and devotion to the Belles. Her on-campus camaraderie and interactions will be missed.”Interim President Nekvasil, who will serve in this role until the summer of 2020, said her focus will be to promote the values that encompass Saint Mary’s during this transition. “I am humbled and inspired to work with our entire campus community to uphold and strengthen Saint Mary’s and ensure continuity in this time of transition,” Nekvasil said in an email. “In my three decades as a faculty member and administrator, the constants have been the educational and spiritual values that distinguish the College, creating a supportive environment in which students can meet the challenges inherent in an excellent education.”This is the second time in the College’s history that an interim president has been appointed, the first being Sister Alma Peter. Peter served as interim president from 1970-1972 following the sudden death of College President Emeritus Monsignor John J. McGrath, the College’s sixth president. Cervelli took over the role of president in the fall of 2016 after the retirement of College President Emerita Carol Ann Mooney. Cervelli was known on campus for her connection with students. In an article published May 19, 2017, at the end of her first academic year in office, Cervelli told The Observer, “I have fallen in love with the Belles here.” Cervelli did not respond to a request for comment following her resignation.This year, Cervelli established office hours to give students the opportunity to speak with her individually in 10-minute sessions. The first of these sessions occurred Sept. 20, and the second was set for Oct. 2. However, the Oct. 2 session was abruptly canceled “due to unforeseen circumstances,” according to an email from the President’s Office that day. Burke spoke with The Observer on Saturday regarding the resignation of Cervelli and the future of the College. Burke said the Board of Trustees was made aware earlier this week of Cervelli’s intent to resign and the board was not aware that her resignation was a possibility prior to Cervelli making her decision. Rather than having one specific answer, Burke said there are likely several reasons for Cervelli’s departure, and the Board of Trustees is choosing to respect her privacy rather than divulge those reasons. “Why does anybody resign?” Burke said. “I just think she probably had a number of different factors that she weighed, and this worked best for her. So we have to respect that. If we didn’t respect her as a person, and as a woman, we could’ve handled things very, very differently.”However, Burke did address several rumors regarding Cervelli’s resignation. Burke said it was solely Cervelli’s decision and not the result of internal pressure to resign. “There’s probably lots of different pieces to it,” Burke said. “So, it was her decision, her decision alone to resign, and we respect her privacy as to why the reasons were.”Burke said while she cannot say with certainty Cervelli did not leave due to health reasons, she appears to be in “good health.” “I’ve spoken with her, she sounds in good health, she says she’s in good health, but who knows why?” Burke said. “There’s probably a thousand reasons to pull together, and I think we have to respect her privacy on it as well.”Cervelli was formerly a dean at the University of Arizona’s College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture from 2008 to 2016. In March 2018, Cervelli joined another former dean in filing a lawsuit against the University of Arizona alleging discriminatory pay. Cervelli argues she did not receive a single pay raise during her time as dean while the men working as deans received $80,000 more on average per year than she did. Burke said she finds it extremely unlikely this lawsuit would have factored into Cervelli’s decision.“I would be really surprised if that had something to do with it,” Burke said. “I could be wrong, but that would surprise me. That was a separate decision to get involved with that she had.”Burke also said the College is in good financial shape and has been during Cervelli’s tenure as president. She does not believe this related to Cervelli’s decision. “[Cervelli] brought in a really good class this year,” Burke said. “You know, 406 [students] is a really good entering class. So the budget’s in good shape. Financially, we are in strong shape.”Saint Mary’s does not make full financial reports publicly available.Along with the Interim President, the College has appointed Jill Vihtelic as Interim Provost and has asked vice president of student affairs Karen Johnson to postpone her retirement in order to assist with the transition. “I am grateful to be able to support Saint Mary’s and Interim President Nekvasil,” Johnson said in an email. “Retirement can be saved for another time.”While Johnson had already announced her intention to retire, Burke said Nekvasil was also considering retirement. However, both women decided to continue working at the College in order to ensure a smooth transition after the departure of Cervelli. “Think about how strong of a school we are that we have two women who were thinking of retiring — Karen and Nancy — who have said, ‘I want to be here, I want to help. I want to keep moving us forward,’” Burke said. “And they came back. I think that speaks volumes, they’re long-term employees.”As for policy initiatives and goals for Cervelli’s administration, Burke said all milestones reached at the time of Cervelli’s resignation were met. Nekvasil will be working on her own goals in the weeks to come. “There were no milestones that were not met by President Cervelli,” Burke said. “I think over the next couple of weeks you’ll hear some milestones and some initiatives that Interim President Nekvasil will be launching, and then we can measure those.” The College is not currently in the search for a new president, Burke said. The search for a new college or university president is formulaic and takes place over the course of a year. Due to Cervelli’s departure mid-semester, Saint Mary’s is unable to complete a search for a president until the summer of 2019.“We are not on the cycle right now, because it’s October,” Burke said. “So that’s why I announced yesterday that Interim President Nekvasil will be here until the summer of 2020. So we’ll start a search in the summer of 2019, we’ll then have us a new president by the spring to summer of 2020.”In the summer of 2019, the College will begin the search process. This includes posting an advertisement in higher education periodicals, collecting resumes and conducting interviews with potential candidates, Burke said. The search will be open to all — both current Saint Mary’s faculty and administration, and those outside of the Saint Mary’s community. “There will be characteristics and qualities, skill-sets that we are looking for, and it will be open,” Burke said. “Anybody can apply, as we did the last search.” Assistant director of media relations Haleigh Ehmsen said the two-year process Saint Mary’s is utilizing with their search for a new president is standard within the world of higher education. “It’s kind of like a formula process that everyone follows,” Ehmsen said. “It’s the same with hiring faculty.” (Editor’s note: Ehmsen is a former Saint Mary’s Editor of The Observer.)Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame both have Board of Trustees meetings this coming week, Burke said. The immediate goals for the transition are to prepare Nekvasil to meet with both boards. “We’re making sure that Nancy is prepared for the board meeting, comfortable with the agenda,” Burke said. “[We’re] working with her on the agenda because she is the president and just kind of business as usual to move us forward.”Tags: Jan Cervelli, Jill Vihtelic, Karen Johnson, Mary Burke, Nancy Nekvasil, resignation, resigned For the second time in the last three years, Saint Mary’s has a new College president. In an open letter to students Friday, chair of the Board of Trustees Mary Burke announced the resignation of President Jan Cervelli and the appointment of former Provost Nancy Nekvasil as the Interim President of the College.
Water conservation is a part of the everyday work done at the University of Georgia’s Stripling Irrigation Research Park (SIRP), where scientists are constantly developing innovative sustainable agricultural practices.Georgia farmers can see some of those methods firsthand on Thursday, July 18, during the park’s annual field day beginning at 8:30 a.m.Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp recently designated July as Smart Irrigation Month and the SIRP is participating by emphasizing the importance of water conservation.Bob Stougaard, assistant dean for research at the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), and Mark McCann, CAES assistant dean for Extension, will serve as keynote speakers.“Georgia is nationally and internationally recognized as a leader in efficient irrigation technologies that have been tested and refined by irrigation and precision-agriculture scientists and researchers and adopted industry wide,” said Calvin Perry, SIRP superintendent. “This field day is an opportunity to showcase some of those technological advancements and the differences they’re making in our research plots.”SIRP provides educational opportunities for farmers, irrigation companies and students to learn more about water use in agriculture through field days, tours and the annual 4-H20 camp held in June. At the SIRP, UGA faculty test different technological advancements and develop unique irrigation methods designed to conserve water.For example, variable rate irrigation (VRI) optimizes irrigation applications throughout a field allowing farmers to adjust irrigation settings to match field size, shape, and condition so water is not wasted on an areas where irrigation isn’t needed.“A dynamic collaboration of entities in Georgia has teamed up to spotlight Smart Irrigation tools, management practices, and the social and economic benefits derived from irrigated agriculture throughout the month of July, to share the message of Georgia’s commitment to water stewardship,” Perry said.The field day is free to attend, but those interested are asked to RSVP by July 11 at 229-522-3623 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The park is located at 8207 Hwy 37, Camilla, Georgia, 31730.To learn more about the park, visit https://striplingpark.org.
My blueprint to grow the economy starts with an honest assessment of Vermont’s strengths and weaknesses.Vermont has a talented workforce ‘ well educated, highly skilled, and motivated to succeed. Vermont is nationally renowned for its high quality of life. National surveys have called Vermont the smartest state, the safest state, and the healthiest place to live. Vermont has a green reputation, a clean environment, a low crime rate, a strong educational system, neighborly communities, high educational attainment, cultural sensitivity, and a vibrant creative community. These attributes can help attract and retain the next generation of entrepreneurs and skilled workers who are critical to growing our economy.This reputation, though, is undermined by a reputation for high taxes, undisciplined government spending, and a complex and expensive permit and regulatory system. These weaknesses hurt Vermont in the competition for jobs, capital and people. Business leaders have warned the Legislature that the combined burden of income, property, estate, and capital gains taxes is oppressive and hinders business expansion and job creation.The jobs we want to grow in Vermont are increasingly mobile. More often, our challenge is not competition from overseas, but competition from Tennessee, Florida, and neighboring states that are aggressively recruiting job creators. Our declining tax receipts suggest a growing number of Vermonters are moving their money, businesses and official residences elsewhere, taking jobs with them. When business owners leave Vermont, it is their employees who are hurt the most. Workers are not nearly as mobile, as they have built their families and their futures around homes in Vermont.In 2009, the Legislature increased capital gains and estate taxes and raised the income taxes by capping deductions allowed to taxpayers. This action had real and costly consequences. Many supporters of the tax increases argued they wouldn’t hurt the average Vermonter because they were just targeted at ‘the rich.’ This is false. Small businesses, farmers, and employers who need capital investment to fund product development and expansion are hurt by these taxes. But the people most affected are working Vermonters ‘ those who lose their jobs when taxes drive employers from the state, or those who cannot secure employment because new jobs are simply not created. TimelineThese tax rate reductions won’t happen in one big step or in one year; they will require steady, incremental progress and a firm commitment to inflation-based spending growth over several years. While the commitment to provide tax relief to working Vermonters must start now, we have a responsibility to first stabilize the state budget in fiscal year 2012. Once we begin to hold spending to common sense levels, we can begin to implement this tax relief strategy.Ã Point 3: Laser Focus on Job Creation · Make Royalties on Patents Tax-Free: A good way to show inventors that we value their innovation is to designate royalties derived from new Vermont-grown patents as tax exempt for the life of the patent. This exemption would apply only to patent royalties ‘ not the associated income from the person or company.· Eliminate Land Gains Tax on Properties Developed for Industrial, Jobs Creation Purposes: The Land Gains Tax was developed as a deterrent to the rampant land speculation occurring in some areas of the state back in the 1970s and ’80s. The tax was never designed to raise money, but was there to make “flipping” land so expensive from a tax perspective that it would be dramatically curtailed. That is, in fact, what happened but, unfortunately, the tax also acts as a deterrent to the development of industrial, job-creating sites. Traditionally, developers create an industrial site that is then sold to an end-user industrial client for the actual construction of the manufacturing facility. However, the Land Gains Tax makes such a transaction unaffordable and uncompetitive with what other states are offering. As a result, new industrial properties are not built and jobs go elsewhere. As Governor, I will propose eliminating the Land Gains Tax as it applies to properties sold by the developer of the site to the job-creating end user.· Conduct an Annual Evaluation: Finally, to ensure that our job creation efforts and strategy remain fresh and effective, I will ask the Secretary of Commerce and Community Development to develop an annual inventory and evaluation of the State’s development and marketing obstacles, incubator facilities, financing and tax credit effectiveness, and research, transportation and telecommunication needs. We have neither the time nor the interest to waste precious taxpayer money on job creation efforts that are not bearing fruit. This process of continuous improvement is essential to making the most of limited resources.Ã Point 4: Market Vermont’s Natural StrengthsVermont’s natural beauty, geographic location, and reputation for quality draw visitors and consumers from around the world. Yet this is a working landscape, with our farms and forests driving the economy in rural areas. We must recognize these natural advantages and seek to leverage them to maximize our economic potential.Expand Tourism Industry InvestmentVermont is known worldwide for its spectacular fall foliage, world-class skiing and snowboarding, and summertime recreation. We need to leverage this reputation to bring even more visitors to Vermont. The state is within a day’s drive of more than 80 million people. Events like the LCI Fishing Tournament, US Open Snowboarding championship, and Vermont City Marathon already bring millions of dollars of economic activity to the state; we should find more opportunities to share the Vermont we love. To support this objective, competitive funding should be allocated for marketing and tourism promotion. We should explore every opportunity to co-market with private sector partners ‘ such as our current programs with Cabot and the Vermont Ski Areas Association. With the significant return on investment and the 60,000 Vermont jobs in this industry, it is important that we continue to grow the tourism sector.Come to playâ ¦ and stay!Making Vermont more affordable will also make Vermont more marketable. Because our state is already well known as an outdoor recreation destination, we should work to convert part-time visitors into year-round residents. As we begin to transform our high-tax image, we can market our natural beauty and improved tax position as one-two combo for folks who want to escape the rat race without breaking the bank.Leverage our proximity to CanadaOur geography and shared heritage with our friends in Quebec is a clear advantage for our state. Vermonters enjoy a strong relationship with Quebecers and all Canadians. The current strength of the Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. dollar makes Vermont an increasingly affordable place for Canadians to shop, vacation and do business. We should increase our efforts to attract Canadian manufacturers and businesses who want improved access to the U.S. market to expand their operations in Vermont. Recent successes with Revision Eyewear, AirBoss and Vermont Transformer prove the value of focusing on our friends to the north.Strengthen Agriculture & Wood Products IndustriesMuch of what we recognize as Vermont’s ‘green’ brand is rooted in our deep connection to the working landscape and our history as an agricultural state. Our farms are the economic engine of rural Vermont. As the result of a broken federal milk pricing system, this economic engine is not running on all cylinders.We must continue to pressure the federal government to find a regional solution to the dairy pricing crisis and anti-trust concerns. As Lieutenant Governor, I have strongly supported federal legislation that would achieve these goals.· Vermont must help farmers and loggers diversify their operations to better protect their bottom lines: Locally grown and value-added food products are growing in popularity and commanding premium prices at the market, but farmers must also look for other ways to increase cash flow. ‘Cow power’ and the use of methane digesters on farms create a triple return for farmers: manure is converted to energy; the waste product is converted to ash that can be used for bedding; and farm runoff is greatly reduced. As Lieutenant Governor, I have worked diligently to promote and expand the use of ‘cow power’ at farms across Vermont. The State must support the broader use of methane digestion on farms through innovative financing. As Vermont has relied on farmers, we have also long relied on loggers and woodsmen as stewards of the working landscape. The last few years have been difficult for the wood products industry. The State must be a good partner to minimize unnecessary regulation and to help open new markets, such as the growing demand for wood chips for biomass energy and wood pellets for home heating.· Expand and Boost Vermont’s Food Economy: While early stage agricultural initiatives like Farm-to-Plate have shown success in supporting our food economy, there is more we must do to open markets and build supply chains for farmers here in Vermont. According to recent estimates, more than 30% of Vermont companies interface with the food economy, which represents a sizable part of our jobs engine. We should set a goal of making Vermont’s food sector a self-sustaining and vibrant part of our economy, partnering with organizations like the UVM Extension Service and the University of Vermont’s Spires of Excellence focus on ‘food systems’ to improve the agricultural infrastructure of our state. These efforts will bring more nutritious, local food to Vermont families at a price they can afford ‘ a worthy goal as we tackle obesity as major driver in health care costs.· Market ‘Made in Vermont’: The products created by Vermont’s farmers, craftspeople and entrepreneurs are renowned for quality, and we need to help build and maintain consumer awareness. Credible, recognizable labeling for Vermont organic and natural foods, wood products, textiles, and other products will make them more competitive in the retail marketplace. As Governor, I will restore the Vermont Seal of Quality and back that seal with the enforcement needed to make it matter. By exploring the development of juried guild system to authenticate products worthy of the Seal of Quality, we would encourage superior quality, apprenticeships and employment opportunities.· Protect and Promote Our Green Brand: In Vermont, a healthy natural environment is essential for a healthy jobs environment. I’m always happy to see Vermont companies leverage our natural beauty and green reputation as part of their success, but there’s more we must do to protect and strengthen our green brand. We must be vigilant to protect our environment while encouraging companies to grow and communities to expand. We also must recognize Vermont’s unique green ethic and use the brand to retain and recruit companies who share those same values. This is an essential component of my ‘Green Valley’ initiative for eco-friendly products and services. (See Point 10 of my plan for a full discussion of the Green Valley initiative.)Ã Point 5: Streamline Permitting and RegulationProtection of our natural resources is fundamental to Vermont’s identity. Our environmental ethic isn’t costing us jobs, but the combined weight of the state’s regulatory system is. Alternative energy entrepreneurs, farmers, builders, the forest products sector, and others tell us our permitting process is slow, unpredictable and expensive. We can simplify and streamline our rules and regulations and make them clear, logical and economical, without compromising the health or safety of our people or our environment. Our focus should be on helping job creators grow their businesses in Vermont while staying true to our shared environmental ethic.Restoring Faith in Act 250Act 250, Vermont’s Land Use and Development Act, has played a key role in preserving and protecting our environment and natural resources since 1970. In and of itself, Act 250 is not at odds with economic growth. But the reality today is that the difficulty and unpredictability of land use permitting has become a high barrier to expansion and growth in our state. For entrepreneurs with capital to invest that creates jobs, time is money and an excessive permitting process consumes both. The problem has two potential solutions.First, permit applicants today face a double jeopardy: the indeterminate time and great expense of going through local planning and zoning, only to repeat many of the same steps for an uncertain fate in Act 250. The obvious solution is that issues heard and decided at the local level by a Development Review Board do not need to be heard again at the District Commission level. We should be able to ensure the environmental integrity of a project in a process that eliminates duplication of parallel engineering studies, public hearings, and the like. Cutting time and expenses will encourage small businesses to grow and hire in Vermont instead of moving to another state.As Governor, I will advance a variety of additional Act 250 reforms, including common sense ‘party status’ rules and applying the burden of proof under all criteria on appeal to the party appealing the permit. I will strengthen the rules around master permitting and expand on the historic work to designate growth centers. I will streamline the master permit process for industrial parks in order to provide needed infrastructure for manufacturing growth. Industrial parks that go through the master planning and permitting process will then allow individual sites to require no further Act 250 review.Second, the work of the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) should be consultative, rather than proscriptive. When an application falls short of a standard or criterion, the ANR should show precisely how the application could be amended to meet the standard.Simply put, all state agencies with any permitting authority should partner with our private citizens and businesses to find solutions. To this end, we should restructure the permitting process, building in certain guarantees:· ‘No Run-Around’ Guarantee. Applicants ‘ especially small businesses without extensive permit expertise ‘ should not have to tolerate ping-ponging between agencies and departments to chase down all the paperwork to obtain necessary permits. When an applicant initiates a permitting process, the agency would assign the applicant a project officer to advise the party through completion. These project officers would consult with the applicant to foster environmentally sound proposals, ensure complete applications, and help smooth any bumps along the way. The team of project officers would report directly to the ANR Secretary’s Office and would have the attention of the Secretary to expedite permits when necessary.· ‘Reasonable Time’ Guarantee. In the business world, uncertainty creates unnecessary risks for expanding companies. Developers would rather have a hard ‘yes’ or hard ‘no’ than indeterminate delay. Applicants should not have to tolerate a permitting timeline that is impossible to predict.In consultation with staff, we should set hard limits on State response time ‘ such as 45 days ‘ for every permit. If the agency head recognizes an application as complete and the agency fails to meet this deadline, the State will rebate a percentage of the permit fee each day until the issue is resolved, up to the amount of the permit fee. This type of performance guarantee will provide a measure of certainty for Vermont businesses and a reasonable compensation for delays outside the 45 day window.Expedite Downtown DevelopmentThe State must do all it can to encourage economic growth in designated growth centers, downtowns and village centers. Vermont should allow municipalities to apply for an Act 250 permit without a developer in hand but based upon planned capacities (traffic, water, sewer, open space, etc.). Such an approach would streamline the permit process where growth is desired, eliminate redundant reviews, and engage local governments more actively in the job creation process. The select board/city council could obtain the permit, recover its costs, and save the developer time by selling the rights of the permit to a developer. The developer would only have to go back to the Act 250 process for those development criteria not covered at the local level by the capacity analysis and associated permit. · Provide Greater Support for Technology Lending Program: High technology businesses are emerging as an important cluster in Vermont. Acquiring needed capital for expansion is a greater challenge to these businesses because they do not qualify for typical assets-based lending programs. I will increase public investment in the new Technology Lending Program at VEDA, which is designed to provide access to needed capital for these high technology companies. Pro-Innovation Tax PolicyFrom Samuel Morey’s internal combustion engine and Thaddeus Fairbanks’ platform scale to Steve Arms’ microstrain gauges and the hundreds of developments IBMers in Essex Junction have patented, Vermonters have a proud history of innovation and entrepreneurship. Vermont often leads the nation in per capita applications for patents. Its entrepreneurs create and manage the small businesses that employ 80% of our workforce. But there are many steps and risks between developing an idea for a business or product and bringing it to the marketplace. · Expand Partnerships with Business Incubators and Academia: Institutions like the Center for Emerging Technologies provide inventors with networking, mentoring and learning opportunities, financial assistance, technical expertise and commercialization resources. UVM also has had success with a generous incentive program for its inventors. Inventors get a substantial share of the royalties from inventions that make it to market, while the University’s share of the royalties goes to support more research, patenting and marketing assistance ‘ and this, in turn, generates more inventions. Modernize Environmental PermittingIf we give Vermonters the opportunity to get general permits on the front end of a project, the applicant takes control of the timeline and is responsible to get the job done right. Successfully developed several years ago for wastewater permitting, general permits and permits by certification eliminate the need for bureaucratic oversight and streamline the process. Vermont should expand the use of general permits and permits by certification and toughen penalties for non-compliance for nearly all state permits. Project engineers must certify that they meet the standards. If they fail to comply, they will face increased penalties or loss of professional licenses. In effect, the Agency of Natural Resources shifts from a permitting agency to an enforcement agency. We should also review application formats to ensure that an applicant isn’t asked to waste time supplying unneeded information and agency staff isn’t required to manage it. The entire process should shift to an electronic medium to speed completion. Republican gubernatorial candidate and current Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie released his economic development proposal on August 30.Brian Dubie’s plan is below. The full version can be found at:http://briandubie.com/(link is external) · Promote and Expand EB-5 Visa Program: The federal immigrant investor program managed by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development has brought enormous investment into our state. It helped Jay Peak and Sugarbush expand ‘ successes that can be replicated with other companies. The State should align economic development resources with this program to maximize the level of investment flowing to Vermont companies. My administration will support the greater use of this important program that brings millions of investment dollars into Vermont businesses ‘ at no additional cost to the taxpayer. A Blueprint for Job Growth: A 10-Point Plan to Grow Vermont’s Economy Ã Point 1: Hold State Spending to Affordable LevelsWhen it comes to creating jobs, taxes matter. A strong economy relies on solid public services like good roads, exceptional education opportunities and a supportive safety net for when times are tough. Taxes must be levied to support these essential services. But, there is a tipping point, when the costs of public services result in an extreme level of taxation that smothers economic growth.Vermont’s founders understood the delicate balance between taxation and services. Article 9 of the Vermont Constitution clearly states that ‘previous to any law being made to raise a tax, the purpose for which it is to be raised ought to appear evident to the Legislature to be of more service to community than the money would be if not collected.’ Tax burdens in Vermont are among the highest in the nation and have become counterproductive to our progress. We cannot tax and spend our way to prosperity.Unfortunately, government spending on our largest programs ‘ Medicaid and K-12 education ‘ is growing faster than the Vermont economy and the paychecks of working Vermonters. This is not sustainable. Over the past two years, as the nation faced a historic recession, Vermont’s economy has weakened. We experienced negative growth in 2009, in contrast to annual growth of less than 3% per year since 2001. Yet general government spending, including substitute stimulus funds, has grown 7.4% from fiscal year 2008 to 2010. During the same period, human services spending, including federal funds, increased $255 million. The Vermont taxpayer-funded component of that budget jumped almost $100 million, or 20% in two short years ‘ unsustainable in any economy.Vermont has seen similar unsustainable growth rates in school spending since Act 60, where property taxes fuel the bulk of spending. Over the last decade, education spending has climbed more than 70%, even though the number of students has dropped by nearly 12%, or more than 12,500 kids.We must right-size state government to avoid smothering Vermont’s economy. We must set and stand by our priorities as Vermonters and ensure that every single government program is evaluated for its effectiveness and efficiency. Programs that do not measure up will be eliminated.We must make spending decisions with a keen eye on our citizens’ ability to pay. Whether measured against the Consumer Price Index, the growth rate of real income, or the growth of the state domestic product, the state budget should not grow more than 2-3% per year. This is effectively the same rate family income grows. By simply holding growth in state government to inflationary levels, we can protect critical safety net programs for the most vulnerable while making our tax structure more competitive. Spending from the Education Fund should grow even more slowly given the ongoing decline in our school age population.As spending declines, the taxes Vermonters pay should decline, too. I propose an Automatic Tax Reduction to return revenues projected above inflation back to taxpayers through lower tax rates. This multi-year strategy will result in saving taxpayers as much as $240 million in the next four years, helping working Vermonters strengthen their own family budgets.The projected $112 million shortfall in fiscal year 2012 will present an extraordinary challenge ‘ in part because the Legislature has failed to ‘right-size’ state spending in 2009 and 2010. The wisdom that ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ has not been embraced by the Legislature.Current projections indicate that as the recession recedes, General Fund revenues will increase by $83.6 million in FY2012 ‘ from $1,090.4 million to $1,174.0 million. Yet, even with this revenue increase, a $112 million deficit is projected as one-time federal stimulus funds no longer are available to support state spending. Consequently, for fiscal year 2012, I will propose that General Fund revenue growth be dedicated to deficit reduction.After we close the shortfall in fiscal year 2012, I propose to dedicate any revenue growth above inflationary levels to tax reduction. If the economic recovery stumbles and the recession continues, it is even more important to have strong leadership and hold down the growth of government.Ã Point 2: Provide Tax Relief for Families and EmployersAs I have traveled the state on the campaign trail, I’ve heard over and over from people who are struggling to afford their taxes. Young mothers and fathers as well as senior citizens in retirement tell me they are considering moving out of Vermont to states with lower tax burdens. As someone who loves this state, this is unacceptable to me. A restaurant owner in Burlington told me his property taxes have surged even as his revenues have stayed the same. He would like to expand, but he can only think about surviving. I am running for Governor because I want him ‘ and all small business owners ‘ to feel the state government is standing behind him rather than standing in his way.It has been proven time and again in the United States and in other countries that reducing tax burdens on citizens spurs investment in business and leads to job creation. High tax burdens kill jobs, particularly during challenging economic conditions. Reducing tax rates and the overall tax burden allows businesses to invest and hire more employees. In the end, the true beneficiaries of lower tax rates are the employees of growing companies and their families. I believe cutting taxes is the best thing we can do for working Vermonters. Vermonters agree with me that the best social program is a good job.Property TaxesFor the last five years, the Legislature ignored again and again the pleas of homeowners and small business owners, and failed to address the most basic reforms needed to curb property taxes. The result: in April 2010, the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council ranked Vermont near worst in the country for its property tax burden as a percentage of personal income. Vermont’s property tax burden is the highest in the nation, according to the August 2010 edition of the Vermont Economy Newsletter. Vermonters deserve better. Failure to contain the growth of property taxes will drive highly qualified workers and skilled jobs out of Vermont. Our children will not be able to afford to live and raise families of their own here.We must contain residential and commercial property taxes. The only way to do that is to stop the relentless escalation of education spending. Despite the recession, school spending has continued to grow, with property taxes rising as a result. Here are just a few of the facts:· Since 1997 and the passage of Act 60, student enrollment has declined almost 12% ‘ but staffing levels have gone in the opposite direction, increasing by 23%.· Today, there is one salaried adult for every 4.55 students in our schools.· In 2009, at the depth of the recession, Vermont schools added 218 new, full-time staff despite a drop of 1,500 students.· Since FY 2005, per pupil spending has increased an average of 5.3% per year ‘ nearly double the rate of inflation over the same period. We now have one of the highest per-pupil spending rates in the country — $14,214 in FY 2010.Vermont homeowners ‘ hard-working families as well as our grandparents in retirement ‘ cannot afford to support a system so fiscally out of balance. Despite being confronted with these startling numbers, the Legislature repeatedly turned its back on common sense proposals to bend the curve on school spending.Nearly 30 years ago, voters in Massachusetts approved a property tax cap limiting annual increases to 2.5% of a home’s assessed value. According to the Wall Street Journal, this move helped the state drop its ‘Taxachusetts’ stigma, taking it from the second-most taxed state in the country to 23rd today. Massachusetts saw no decline in the quality of education or achievements of students.Today, several other states are exploring the idea of property tax caps. In New York, the Democratic candidate for Governor, Andrew Cuomo, has proposed a 2% cap on property taxes. Vermont must explore common sense caps on property taxes and per pupil spending as one of many measures needed to fix the broken system of education funding built on the Act 60 framework. Vermont cannot allow runaway property taxes to threaten our economic recovery.I served on my hometown’s school board for six years and was chair for five of those years. From first-hand experience, I know that if we work cooperatively with school boards, an inflation-based property tax cap can save property taxpayers millions of dollars without compromising education quality.For example, among all states, Vermont has the lowest average ratio of students per staff in our schools. Vermont property taxpayers could save the extraordinary amount of $84 million by simply aligning Vermont’s student-staff ratio with the next best state. As teachers, aides and administrators retire, local school boards should thoughtfully examine whether they can meet student educational needs with existing staff.Vermont needs a sensible system of school governance that cuts administrative costs from duplicative contracts, school administrators, etc. District and school consolidation must be a serious option as taxpayers struggle to fund high overhead in districts large and small. As the former chair of a school board, I am a steadfast proponent of local control. These decisions must come at the local level, not mandated by Montpelier.Income TaxesThe more people pay in taxes, the less money they have to pay for other priorities such as housing and utility costs, college education for their children, and saving for retirement. Vermont’s top personal income tax rate of nearly 9% is among the highest in the country. We don’t need the lowest rate in the country to compete, but being near the top results in fewer job opportunities and less financial freedom for Vermonters.I propose to cut income tax rates in all brackets. Regardless of the income level, all Vermonters deserve a break. To help make Vermont more competitive with other states, we must aim to lower the top rates to the middle of the pack, from the current 9% to between 6-7%. While this would be a significant change, it still does not meet the regional average of 5% as seen in Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.Corporate TaxesMany Vermont business owners pay taxes through their personal income tax filing; others pay through the corporate tax system. For fairness and simplicity, we should align our corporate income tax rates with our top personal income tax rates. We can make Vermont stronger by reducing the top corporate rate from 8.5% to between 6-7% on a schedule, consistent with our reductions in personal income taxes. This reduction will help our small businesses create jobs for working Vermonters. Spur Innovation and EntrepreneurshipAs Governor, I will be a relentless advocate for entrepreneurs and small business owners. My door will always be open to hear concerns and provide a helping hand to those seeking to invest in jobs and Vermont’s future.· Increase Support for the Small Business Development Center: The SBDC is the State’s designated advisor to entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses. SBDC counseling and educational services have supported the establishment and growth of many hundreds of small businesses in Vermont. I will add support for SBDC counseling to help entrepreneurs launch and expand their businesses. · Bolster VEDA’s Successful Job Creation Programs: The Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) serves as the State’s economic development bank, teaming with commercial banks to provide lower interest rates to companies and farmers that have a higher risk profile than most commercial banks will consider. During the economic downturn, when credit is so difficult for many small businesses to obtain, the State must increase support for VEDA’s highly successful interest rate subsidy program. This will encourage capital formation that leads to job growth. In the past, a $1.2 million investment in this program yielded a leverage rate of approximately $56 million in new projects. Pure VermontBlueprint for Job Growth and Economic Expansion Ã Point 6: Lower Health Care Costs for Families & BusinessesVermont families and businesses are struggling under the growing weight of health care costs. Across the country, health care spending continues to make up greater percentages of our Gross Domestic Product each year, posing a serious threat to our state and our nation’s fiscal health. The more money spent on health care, the less money a business has to hire a new employee; the less money a family has to replace an aging roof; and the less money a government has to fund education, transportation or other pressing priorities.But those health care costs won’t be magically reduced by handing over the keys to a government-run health care system. We’ll simply be funding those increases through bigger tax bills instead of larger premiums. Whether we pay from state coffers or the family checkbook, both accounts will be flat broke unless we get costs under control.Some Vermont politicians are eager to get ahead of the massive federal health care reform and impose a new government-run system in Vermont. What they either don’t realize or don’t understand is that the new federal health care reform act expressly forbids any state from striking out on its own until 2017 at the earliest. Anyone who proclaims differently is ignoring the law passed by President Obama and Congress and pandering to single-payer advocates.Instead of putting the government between doctor and patient ‘ something President Obama agreed was untenable ‘ we should focus our limited resources on implementing federal health care reform, while continuing to build and expand on the cost-containment foundation Vermont has laid with the Blueprint for Health.Economists from across the country and political spectrum agree there is enormous waste in our current system. Harvard economist and Obama health care adviser Dr. David Cutler argues that state government is spending $70 billion more on health care than what is needed, just in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Programs alone. As Governor, I will work to reduce overspending in Vermont, reduce waste in the health care system, and improve the quality of care Vermonters receive.Focus on preventionToday, 70% of the spending in health care is on preventable, chronic diseases. We do a good job in Vermont of encouraging healthier behaviors through our public health initiatives, and we’ve begun to explore healthy lifestyle discounts through insurance products. However, we need to further expand the financial incentives associated with healthy behaviors and prevent chronic diseases before they occur.Pay for quality, not quantityAcross the country, doctors are incentivized to provide more care, not necessarily better care. Too often, our current health care system encourages physicians to order costly procedures of marginal benefit rather than to work with a patient on a nutrition or physical therapy plan. Through the Blueprint for Health, we are moving toward paying more to doctors who meet national standards for quality and health — enhancing outcomes rather than simply increasing the quantity of diagnostic and surgical procedures. It’s cheaper to prevent tooth decay rather than fill cavities. It’s more cost effective to support good nutrition and an active life rather than repair the damage of heart disease and diabetes.Empower ConsumersWe must empower consumers with information and use market forces to affect positive change and reduce costs. Currently, savvy Vermonters can shop online for pretty much anything. They’re always looking for the best quality product at the lowest price. But the one thing they can’t shop for is health care. Hospital A in their hometown might charge $2,000 more for a knee replacement than Hospital B in another town an hour away, but Hospital A’s outcomes may be no better. Vermonters don’t know which hospital provides higher quality at a lower cost because the information is not readily available. If people are empowered with information that gives them choices, their decisions will drive improvements and cost reductions throughout the system.Enact Medical Malpractice ReformIt’s not just reimbursement rates that incentivize unnecessary procedures and drive up health care costs; it is fear of getting sued. Physicians have been clear that they will order another expensive test, not because the patient needs it, but to help avoid a lawsuit. Vermont leads the country in health care innovation in most areas, but not in medical malpractice reform. The Vermont Medical Society has pushed for years for common sense reforms that protect consumer rights and patient safety, but discourage the frivolous lawsuits that continue to drive up health care costs. Unfortunately, the Legislature has steadfastly refused to innovate in this arena. We can’t continue to bury our heads in the sand and ignore the potential cost savings from such reforms.Reduce Administrative CostsVermont does not need the heavy hand of a government-run single payer health care system to reduce administrative costs ‘ there are a number of other steps that experts estimate could cut costs by 50%. Standardizing the forms used by insurers, simplifying the credentialing required by providers, and streamlining the burdensome regulatory processes ‘ including the Certificate of Need (CON) process ‘ are good places to start. As Governor, I will convene insurers, providers, patient advocates, and others to prioritize and implement ideas to reduce overhead.Thoughtful Review of Statewide Hospital Resources and NeedsWe are more than willing to drive an hour and a half to a mall or a hockey game or even to work every day, but there’s an expectation that the latest, greatest medical procedure should always be available at our local hospital. We can’t be afraid to ask the tough questions that could lead to even greater cost savings, including whether every hospital in the state needs to provide every service or procedure. We have to come to grips with economies of scale, and recognize that although we need emergency, acute medical services in every corner of the state, maybe we don’t need the latest laser surgery tool at every facility. Unless we are more realistic in our expectations and resist investments that enhance convenience but make little economic sense, we are on an unsustainable track that will bankrupt our families and businesses. · Adopt an Investment Tax Credit: Vermont should welcome and reward investment by adopting an Investment Tax Credit. Such credits are a proven incentive for the purchase of buildings, machinery and equipment to support manufacturing job growth and to help our existing businesses reinvent themselves to stay competitive. Businesses and manufacturers making such investments will be eligible for a 10% credit against income taxes based on the cost of the investment in capital equipment.· Enhance the Research and Development Tax Credit: After strong support from business leaders, who have long advocated for recognizing the importance of research and innovation in our economy, the Legislature agreed to establish a Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit. However, they delayed implementation of the credit for several years. As Governor, I will work to enhance the value of the credit by creating a schedule to incentivize first-dollar qualified R&D. Such a program represents a real commitment to R&D and innovation. · Eliminate the VEGI Cap: Vermont Employment Growth Incentive (VEGI) awards are self-funding and not paid until the company meets new job creation goals. In other words, there is no budget hit with the successful VEGI program. While the cap on this incentive has been raised recently, we must prove to investors in our economy that Vermont is serious about job growth ‘ and eliminate the cap entirely. I look forward to the day when it is not necessary to offer special tax credits and incentives to retain and attract business investment and jobs to Vermont, but I recognize that Vermont’s tax policies cannot be made competitive overnight. Until then, Vermont should be resolute in support of working Vermonters by providing targeted job creation incentives to help entrepreneurs ready to invest and to jump-start our economic recovery. · Nurture Growing Clusters: Software development, captive insurance, biotechnology and research, nanotechnology, and renewable energy are just a few of the growing high-tech clusters in our state. We must support and encourage academic and technology leaders as well as venture capitalists, bankers, accountants and lawyers to work with innovators to grow these thriving businesses that are the wave of the future.One way is to continue to support the development of business craft alliances in these areas. These alliances support each other and advise on best practices. They can also advise the State on new policy initiatives that will spur growth and greater employment in that field. This has already proven successful with the Vermont Aerospace and Aviation Association, which I founded in 2006 and continue to co-chair today. We have successfully advocated for reforms, such as eliminating aircraft parts from the state sales tax, that have helped make Vermont companies more competitive and secure jobs. The Vermont Software Developers Alliance is another example of this type of association, a model that I will encourage other industries to apply. The 2010 Legislature again threatened to raise taxes. Faced with a gubernatorial veto of the $4.6 billion budget, it rolled back some ‘ but not all ‘ of the high taxes it imposed in 2009. This is a first step, but more must be done to make Vermont more competitive. We cannot risk a landscape where legislators have free rein to work with a likeminded Governor to raise taxes. To meet the challenge of a $112 million shortfall projected for 2012 and more than $2 billion in unfunded pension and health care obligations to our retired teachers and state employees, Vermont must adopt pro-growth, pro-jobs policies.I will be a Governor who speaks with sincerity and passion about the need for growth. I look forward to working with the Legislature to enact my jobs agenda; but, if necessary, I will use the veto pen to protect our economy. Whether you own a business here, want to invest in a Vermont Citizens’ Bond, or rely on Dr. Dynasaur for your child’s medical insurance, the long-term financial stability of state government is critical. That stability provides certainty and security for important decisions in our lives; we know the State will be there to back up its obligations. Fortunately for Vermonters, under the watchful eyes of both Gov. Howard Dean and Gov. Jim Douglas, the state has held a steady financial course for nearly two decades.However, swings in spending, volatile tax rates and unaddressed perennial challenges send the opposite signal to the outside world ‘ a signal that Vermont’s fiscal house might be in disarray. During the late 1980’s, Vermont experienced the absence of steady hands in Montpelier. Key leaders went on a spending spree and expenditures grew on average by 10% per year and by as much as 17% in a single year. In 1990, the nation and Vermont were hit by a recession and unemployment soared. That recession put an end to the spending spree, leaving Vermont taxpayers with a $65 million deficit, no ‘rainy day’ funds, a declining bond rating and major tax increases.Last year, when the Legislature overrode the Governor’s budget veto, increased spending and imposed tax increases, some worried about a return to the dark days following the irresponsibility of the late 1980’s. We must be vigilant and safeguard the stability of state finances. As Governor, I will follow in the bipartisan gubernatorial tradition of strong fiscal management and steady leadership ‘ saying ‘no’ to legislation that threatens the State’s stability. I will not only focus on today’s challenges, but will address our long-term liabilities, such as our pension liability and demographic challenges. These areas are not always exciting but they are vitally important to Vermont’s success.Balance Budgets Without Raising TaxesUnlike most states, Vermont has no constitutional amendment or statute mandating a balanced budget. As Governor, I will affirm my commitment to ensure a balanced budget every year without raising taxes on already tapped out families and employers. I will work in good faith with members of all parties to develop a responsible spending plan that Vermonters can afford. If we have a revenue shortfall when the Legislature is out-of-session, I will work with the Joint Fiscal Committee on a rescission plan to keep expenditures from outpacing revenues. These fundamental elements of financial stewardship cannot be taken for granted.Protect Vermont’s Triple-A Bond RatingThe State’s bond rating is a lot like a person’s credit rating. If you have a bad credit score, you are considered a risky investment for a loan or a mortgage; the higher your score, you have an easier time getting financing from the bank. The same is true for the State; outside investors and potential new employers look to the State’s bond rating to gauge whether or not Vermont is a safe place to invest.After a long period of diminished ratings ‘ owing largely to the fiscal crisis of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s ‘ Vermont regained its Aaa/AAA bond rating from Moody’s/Fitch over the past few years. This highest possible rating places Vermont among a select group of other well-run states. As Governor, I will work closely with the Treasurer to protect our coveted rating by adhering to debt recommendations of the Capital Debt Affordability Advisory Committee (CDAAC) and insisting on the continued timely reporting of the State’s financial statements and annual audits.Expand State Stabilization ReservesOur stabilization reserves ‘ commonly known as the ‘rainy day’ funds ‘ do not operate like a piggybank where we can just pull out the money to spend, only to refill it at our own pace. The reserves are more like overdraft protection for a checking account. The current 5% reserves allow the State to meet its regular financial obligations without having to borrow money while waiting for tax revenues to come in. Full 5% reserves are essential for the smooth operation of state government.In fact, following the depletion of ‘rainy day’ funds in the late 1980’s, state government did not have the cash necessary to pay current bills, requiring the state to borrow even more and suffer higher interest charges in order to pay day-to-day obligations. That was an untenable position for the State and one we must not repeat. Any proposal to dip into our reserves to meet our FY2012 budget shortfall is shortsighted and indicates a lack of wherewithal needed to make the difficult decisions to lead our state.As Governor, I will recommend a steady effort to grow our stabilization reserves to at least 10% of yearly expenditures ‘ a level more in line with private enterprise and other AAA-rated states. In case of an extended downturn, having a 10% cushion will give us the flexibility to reasonably tap reserves without risking having to borrow money to pay the State’s bills.Address Major Pension LiabilitiesAs it stands today, the combined unfunded pension liability for state employees and teachers in retirement is in excess of $2 billion. Vermont taxpayers are on the hook for the lion’s share of that amount, with an ever-increasing annual contribution of over $100 million crowding out other budget priorities. This pending crisis has no easy resolution, but we must work together to balance our bottom line while honoring our long-standing commitment to state employees and teachers.Last session, a legislatively-mandated committee of state officials, lawmakers, and outside experts recommended a series of changes to the pension systems. While teachers agreed to some scaled-back modifications to their system, state employees passed on the opportunity. As Governor, I will continue to push to resolve these challenges. We cannot shift this burden to the next generation.Recognize and Plan for Demographic ChallengesVermont faces some significant challenges arising from our rapidly aging population. Vermont now has the second oldest population of any state in the country, just behind Maine and catching up. We are first in the nation in the 50 – 54 age group but 51st (counting Washington DC) in the 25 – 29 age group. Our over-65 population will double in the next 25 years. Our aging demographic has enormous implications for our families, communities and economy. When employers decide to expand or relocate, they must be sure an adequate workforce is available to meet their needs. We must take aggressive steps to retain our young Vermonters to fill the jobs of the next decades so that employers will have the workforce they need.First, we must begin making Vermont a more affordable place to live. We cannot continue a situation where young Vermonters feel they can no longer afford to live in the communities where they grew up. Much of the lack of affordability is tied to very high tax burdens in Vermont ‘ one more important reason we must bring our overall tax burden under control.Ã Point 8: Build Next-Generation Business InfrastructureHigh-speed internet. Reliable wireless coverage. Well-maintained transportation infrastructure. These are not ‘nice-to-haves’ for Vermont businesses in the 21st Century. They are ‘must-haves.’ If Vermont wants a vibrant and robust economy, the State must lead the charge to ensure these fundamentals are in place.In 2007, Vermont launched its e-State initiative and created the Vermont Telecommunications Authority (VTA) to spearhead a multi-year project to bring broadband internet and cell coverage to all corners of the state. These early efforts to coordinate public and private entities put Vermont in a strong position when federal recovery money became available for infrastructure improvement. The recent federal award of $116 million to VTel of Springfield for last-mile build-out is the capstone of several awards for SmartGrid and middle-mile service that total over $200 million. With the ARRA awards, state capital appropriations, and the VTA’s $40 million bonding authority, Vermont now has the capital funding needed to achieve the e-State goals.Now the focus must shift to implementation. Building a modern telecommunications network is too important for job creation to be stuck in bureaucratic eddies. I will appoint a cabinet-level Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to oversee e-State deployment. The CTO will be charged with relentlessly ensuring collaboration between e-State partners, developing consistency between state agencies, removing bureaucratic hurdles, and expediting permits within existing regulations.As one of the first bills of 2011, my administration will seek to make permanent the tower-siting reform (commonly known as 248a permits), which is scheduled to sunset at the end of 2011. This reform is critical to the smooth rollout to unserved and underserved areas.Further, we need to make state government a center of excellence for technology by pushing more services online to improve customer service and promote efficient operation. With a true e-State on the horizon, there is no excuse for government to be paperbound. Vermont must accelerate its adoption of e-government services. As Governor, I will require state departments and agencies to submit an e-government plan within the first 100 days of my administration that outlines plans to move services online within the myVermont.gov portal.We must also continue to improve the condition of Vermont’s roads, bridges, culverts, rails and airports to ensure safe, efficient transportation. Delivery of goods and services, as well as the ability of workers to get to and from their jobs, depend on a robust transportation infrastructure. As Governor, I will continue the State’s focus on preventive maintenance while advancing critical transportation projects such as the Circ Highway, the Bennington Bypass, Morristown Alternate Truck Route, Middlebury Rail Spur and development of rail along the Western Corridor ‘ all projects that are necessary for economic development. Ã Point 7: Steady Leadership for Long-Term Challenges The Vermont Yankee generation plant has provided reliable, inexpensive, carbon-free power to Vermonters for almost 40 years. It is one of southern Vermont’s largest employers. Vermonters must have confidence that this plant will be safe, reliable and properly managed before it can be relicensed. As Governor, I will not back off on holding Vermont Yankee and its owner, Entergy Nuclear, to the highest standards. If they can be met, Vermont Yankee has the potential to provide clean, competitively priced, carbon-free baseload power to Vermont for up to 20 more years as we work to develop new renewable power sources for the future.Energy EfficiencyThe State should strongly encourage and support employers and individuals to manage their own efficiency efforts. IBM has asked me to help it launch an initiative aimed at reducing its power consumption by 25% over the next three years. The company has been allowed to manage its own energy efficiency funds and has demonstrated that it can achieve incredible savings. I will support a program that permits other Vermont businesses to have the same opportunity.The development of Vermont’s SmartGrid will give us the tools we need for smarter power use. With unprecedented federal support and the deep investment of Vermont utilities, the SmartGrid will put Vermont at the cutting edge of managing our power consumption and open new opportunities to Vermont consumers to lower their overall energy bills. I will continue to support the deployment of SmartGrid technologies throughout Vermont.Conclusion: Ã Point 9: Strengthen Education and TrainingVermont has a highly motivated, skilled and educated workforce. Employers often cite the quality and reliability of Vermont workers as the most important asset to their businesses. But in this globally competitive and mobile economy, we cannot rest on those laurels; we must continually improve our system of education and training for the benefit of all Vermonters.Vermont’s infrastructure for education and training is strong in some areas, but weak in others ‘ and generally poorly connected and unable to form the continuum of learning necessary for a robust 21st Century economy. We must recognize that people ‘ human capital ‘ are what fuels our economic engine, and we should demand excellence from all segments of our infrastructure.The elephant in the room with funding for education and training in Vermont is the disproportionately high level of resources for K-12 education and the embarrassingly low level for everything else. We spend more per pupil on K-12 education than nearly every other state, but we are near or at the bottom for state support of early and higher education. Our workforce training programs are always fighting for money among all of the other budget priorities. If we hope to build a truly comprehensive continuum of education and training, we need to bridge the funding disparities across these programs. If we reasonably curb K-12 school spending, we can greatly enhance our spending in other areas while protecting education quality and still giving property tax payers a well-deserved break.Early Ed through 12Make no mistake: Vermont’s education system is excellent. Our teachers are second-to-none and they are the backbone of our schools. I know this well: my wife, Penny, was a public school teacher, and we both agree how important good teachers have been to the success of our four children. All four of them attended public schools, and their achievements are a tribute to the skill and dedication of their teachers. Still, there is more we must do to give students, parents, teachers and providers the full range of tools to ensure that every young Vermonter meets his or her full potential.· Smart Investments in Pre-K Early Education: Early childhood education is critical to successfully turning young Vermonters into productive members of our society. The research is convincing that early education can provide the essential building blocks for young students. The question is not about the efficacy of early education, but of how we can afford to pay for it, especially when Vermonters are already taxed out. Instead of creating a bigger state bureaucracy and expanding the public school system to cover 3 & 4 year olds, we should empower Vermont’s network of private providers through our existing Building Bright Futures framework. Provided that funding exists from the reform of K-12 education financing, we should explore need-based scholarships for working families to help defray the cost of certified private providers. The State should also consider tax credits for employers with on-site pre-schools and local partnerships with private providers. · Create a Cabinet-level Secretary of Education: Part of the disjointed nature of education policy comes at the state level and the lack of direct accountability for educational outcomes. I will propose the creation of a Cabinet-level Secretary of Education, appointed by Governor, with direct responsibility for state education policy for all students ‘ pre-K through 12. In an effort to make Vermont’s programs work together seamlessly, the Secretary will be the administration’s point-person on education issues and reform. Further, the Secretary will work with the Chancellor of Vermont State Colleges, the President of UVM, and other private college presidents to shape state policy and funding for higher education. The State Board of Education will transition to a Governor’s Council of Education and Employment Advisors modeled after the successful and long-standing Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors.· Make Vermont a Math-Science Center of Excellence: We know the marketplace of tomorrow will place an even greater premium on math and science skills ‘ an area that the U.S. has fallen dangerously behind competing nations. I will ask the new Agency of Education to ensure math and science teachers are qualified to teach those classes by having college degrees in those fields. Further, I propose we create an accelerated teacher accreditation path using job experience in those fields. A model for this exists in the Chittenden Central Supervisory Union, a program established when I chaired that supervisory union’s school board.· Customize Learning for All Achievers: There is no cookie-cutter approach to getting children to learn. We must be willing to try new ideas and techniques to give parents every opportunity to find the right fit for their student. We should also push to increase dual enrollment opportunities to allow high school students to take both regular classes and college/career courses with participating higher education institutions. We can do this by working with our educators to embrace an online learning curriculum.· Ease the Transition from School to Workforce: As Governor, I will add support to Vermont’s career centers, which provide a vital link between school and work. According to the Next Generation Commission, up to a third of young Vermonters are being left behind as they either drop out or transition out of high school. We simply cannot allow this. Vermont must make trade and technical education and career counseling and support a high priority so that more of our youth can transition successfully from school to work. An example of this kind of success can be found at the North Country Career Center, which has seen a dramatic increase in enrollment due to a new focus on the needs of this important segment of our population.Adult Workforce Training ProgramsVermont has many job training, internships, mentoring support and adult basic education programs spread across many organizations and sectors, both inside and outside of state government. We know these programs are vital to helping Vermonters advance and satisfying the needs of our employers. However, we must ensure these programs fit the needs of employers, meet national standards, and are not duplicative with each other. Within the first 100 days of my Administration, I will ask the Department of Labor, Department of Education, Agency of Human Services and the Agency of Commerce and Community Development to report jointly on the structure and effectiveness of these programs and to make recommendations to optimize state spending while helping Vermont workers. Easing the tax burden on families and employers will help make Vermont more attractive for job growth. There are also other important steps we must undertake to encourage companies to grow here in Vermont. We must enhance our jobs strategy with a series of targeted efforts that comprise a comprehensive approach.Support Existing Vermont CompaniesEvery Vermont businessperson knows that the best way to grow their business is to get their existing customers to become better and bigger customers. The same is true for job creation: if we can get existing businesses ‘ large and small ‘ to expand in Vermont, that can be more effective than trying to get new firms to relocate. As Governor, I will make a special effort to take care of Vermont’s existing employers ‘ making sure they get the support they need to thrive.· ‘Buy Local’: the Vermont Supply Chain Initiative: We often think of ‘buying local’ as it pertains to food and value-added agricultural products. The same concept applies to manufacturers who are looking for suppliers or subcontractors: look first to other Vermont companies for those products. As Lieutenant Governor, I have led the effort to establish supply chain open houses, inviting prime contractors to meet with Vermont suppliers of the products or services they need. Often, businesses never even knew these nearby suppliers existed. I have convinced numerous businesses to first ‘shop locally’ when looking for a supplier, helping jobs grow throughout the supply chain. Northern Power Systems, Plasan North America and Dynapower have held such events, and one is scheduled at SB Electronics in the fall. As Governor, I will focus more attention on helping Vermont businesses recognize the importance of ‘buying local.’ · Establish a Governor’s Career Readiness Certificate: I will establish a statewide Governor’s Career Readiness Certificate building off the Vermont State Colleges’ successful pre-employment training program. The program gives workers the training they need to thrive in today’s workplace and certifies to employers that applicants are ready for the challenge. This program links with the National Career Readiness Certificate recognized in over 30 states and supported by the National Governors Association.· Spur High-Tech Internships: I will also focus much needed attention on a new approach to internships particularly in the areas of technology employment. More and more often our technology companies are looking for employees who have some work experience. My administration will team with technology and other industries to create a new focus on internship programs that form the vital link between education and career. Internships not only provide young Vermonters with much needed experience in a work environment, it also allows the employers to ‘test drive’ the potential employee. This eases the transition into a career that is beneficial for both.· Strengthen Link Between Workforce Development and Higher Education: Despite the State’s tepid support for higher education, our colleges and the University of Vermont are top-notch. Their researchers and thinkers are on the cutting edge of new ideas, new discoveries and new business opportunities. We should continue to strengthen the relationship between Vermont’s workforce development efforts and our institutions of higher learning. One step is to establish worker retraining centers on the campuses of the state colleges. In addition to acquiring new skills, workers could take classes toward advanced degrees and improve their earning potential for the future.Ã Point 10: Power Up Our Energy FutureGood energy policy is all about creating good jobs. During a trade mission to China in 2003, I formulated a vision for Vermont as ‘the Green Valley’ ‘ a place where environmental and clean energy products and service companies would be welcomed; where they could interact with other businesses in their industry; and where the environmental ethic of the citizens matched the environmental objectives of the company.Companies like Northern Power Systems, Dynapower, GroSolar, Earth Turbines, NRG and Energizer are on the cutting edge of renewable energy technology and advancements in products that protect the environment. Vermont should focus investment incentives and workforce training for such businesses, building the state as a center for manufacturers and service companies committed to the ‘green’ economy. Vermont’s colleges and universities can partner with clean energy industries, providing a wealth of research opportunities and educating the next generation of green technology entrepreneurs.For the ‘Green Valley’ to bloom, Vermont must have a robust energy roadmap for the future. Businesses must have a reliable source of energy at a predictable, competitive cost. Without it, new job creators, especially high-usage manufacturers, will be hesitant to locate in Vermont. Existing jobs will be in jeopardy if a dramatic rise in energy costs forces the consideration of moving elsewhere. Our economic security is inseparable from our energy security and environmental security. We must promote efficiency, competitive cost, and generation of new, cost-effective renewable sources of power right here in Vermont.Alternative EnergyAs Governor, I will be committed to deploying additional solutions for cost-effective alternative energy ‘ wind, solar, small-scale hydro and biomass. I want alternative energy companies to grow in Vermont. This will create jobs, as well as promote a brighter, cleaner future.Since it was established in 2005, Vermont’s Clean Energy Development Fund has promoted renewable energy projects, helping to finance 84 projects that have added 9.6 mWh of clean energy generation in Vermont. The new Feed-In-Tariff program was designed to help bring another 50 mWh of renewables online, including solar, small-scale hydro, wind, biomass, and geothermal generation. As Governor, I will work with renewable energy developers and Vermont’s employers to ensure that Vermont continues to be a leader in developing competitive, cost-effective clean energy projects.Reliable Baseload PowerHydro Quebec is currently constructing 4,000 MW of renewable hydropower in Quebec. The new contract with Hydro Quebec will ensure that we continue to have access to this reliable, competitive renewable energy source. I strongly support the approval of this new contract to help secure Vermont’s clean energy future. Above all, it will be the energy and optimism of the people of Vermont that will make this state the best place to raise a family, earn a living, start and grow a small business, and enjoy a secure retirement. We can do great things when industry, academia and government work together as partners. As Governor, I will work with the Legislature to pass laws that will make job creation easier and existing jobs more secure. A strong economy is vital to the security of each and every Vermonter. Our recovery from the recession demands that we take action now. That’s responsible. That’s sustainable.That’s Pure Vermont. Source: Dubie for Governor. 8.30.2010
continue reading » 2SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr In the era of the digital world, mobile and social media have become major channels for marketing. A fundamental difference with the digital era from the pre-Internet era is the concept of personal space. Mobile phone users consider their device to be their personal space and are not keen on intrusions into this space which are not relevant.Furthermore, this digital era is one of big data. With social media, mobile and internet activities continuously generating a huge amount of data, marketers have access to insights in different forms, coming from different sources and generated at different velocities.In this digital era, financial marketers who will be successful are those who leverage big data analytics including Machine Learning and AI to understand the needs of consumers to provide a personalized experience through targeted communication that is delivered in real-time based on needs. This is the era of hyper-personalization at scale.
The co-located 2019 CUNA Technology Council and Operations & Member Experience Council Conferences in Chicago featured many highlights, including a preconference Security Summit and high-level sessions for technology and operations leaders.Nearly 100 technology leaders took part in the 6th annual Security Summit, where much of the discussion centered on internal controls, access management, effective reporting, security breaches, and securing applications in the cloud.Plus, the event featured multiple award-winning efforts to improve sales and service, recognize staff, enhance digital services, and more. continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr