Vermont Progressive Party Platform
Last Amended on Nov. 15, 2014
PREAMBLE: The Vermont Progressive Party offers this platform to preserve and sustain democracy, guarantee inalienable rights, and promote the general welfare of the citizens of the State of Vermont.
Progressives believe health care is a human right, and support universal, single-payer health care, birth to death, provided through a nonprofit, publicly financed system. We will work to:
- Implement a comprehensive, full-spectrum single-payer health care system, including dental, vision, hearing, preventive and mental health care as well as providing coverage for proven alternatives to western medicine such as acupuncture, naturopathic, and chiropractic treatments.
- Establish Community Health Centers to deliver health care services throughout the state.
- Subsidize tuition for students in underrepresented medical fields, who agree to remain and practice in Vermont Community Health Centers after graduation.
The VPP believes that a strong public educational system is an essential foundation to citizen participation in a democratic society. We will work to:
- Promote a public education system, Pre-K through college that provides comprehensive opportunities for all ability levels.
- Replace or supplement the residential education property tax system with an income-based tax and other progressive forms of taxation such as a wealth tax.
- Increase the federal and state share of special education funding and improve the quality of services through increased local professional and parental control.
- Reduce post secondary tuition cost for Vermonters attending state schools with programs such as “pay it forward” and the Collegiate High School programs. The long-term goal of the VPP is a tuition-free college education for Vermonters at state schools.
- Oppose ongoing federal and state efforts to undermine public schools through high-stakes testing, standardized curriculum, vouchers, and charter schools.
- Enable teachers to exercise more influence on the quality of education via greater respect for the contract negotiating process, school governance, and curriculum design and implementation.
Progressives are committed to public safety. We will work to:
- Invest in prevention and anti-violence programs.
- Discontinue the failed “war on drugs.”
- Fund drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs.
- Limit incarceration to offenders who pose a threat to public safety.
- Re-evaluate the sentencing structure, which often imposes sentences that are purely retribution and not conductive to rehabilitation. Increase accountability and public oversight of the Department of Corrections through an independent Citizens Oversight Committee.
- Create effective penalties against driving under the influence to ensure public safety.
- Work to provide in-state placements and treatment (rather than out-of-state).
- Set up half-way houses in each county.
- Advocate for vocational and workplace training for offenders and youth at risk.
- Remove barriers to employment for those who have served their time.
- Provide education and literacy support in all corrections settings.
Progressives will preserve Vermont’s national leadership as a champion of civil rights, in the tradition of Vermont’s history as the first state to outlaw slavery. Progressives believe our right to personal privacy, guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution, is unconditional. We will work to:
- Ensure an individual's right to control their body and their medical choices with complete confidentiality.
- Establish a statewide Zero-Tolerance standard toward all forms of discrimination and harassment in public places, schools, and workplaces.
- Ensure that control of each person's private information and communications remains with that individual, and that state and local governments may not access, monitor, or eavesdrop on these protected personal effects without due process.
- Protect the privacy of individuals from commercial interests.
Progressives believe that a strong, local economy is the foundation to a vibrant and sustainable future that promotes a high quality of life for all Vermonters. We will work to:
- Establish and guarantee that all working age Vermonters are afforded the opportunity for full time employment, which provides a living wage.
- Advocate for the rights of workers to unionize.
- Insist that Vermont contract only with responsible employers that hire local employees and pay a livable wage.
- Require that state-funded institutions buy products and services from Vermont farms and businesses wherever feasible.
- Promote cooperatives, worker-owned businesses, public benefit corporations, and publicly owned enterprises as alternatives to profit-driven multinational corporations.
- Change from the sole reliance on Gross Domestic Product to include other metrics, such as the Genuine Progress Indicator, to factor in social and environmental costs when evaluating our state’s economic development.
- Establish a publicly owned state bank, which would invest state monies into our local economy, instead of Wall Street banks.
Progressives believe that Vermont’s natural environment is the foundation of our health, quality of life, and economy. We appreciate the intrinsic value of nature, and understand the need to be good stewards of this treasure so future generations can enjoy the same benefits as we do. We will work to:
- Protect our water, air, and biodiversity through strict enforcement of existing regulations, the creation of new regulations when necessary, and financial incentives that reward responsible stewardship.
- Strengthen effective land-use planning policies (e.g., Act 250, Current Use Program) that support town centers, farming, forestry, and conservation.
- Promote environmentally sound use of Vermont’s natural resources by supporting composting, expanding recycling, reducing hazardous waste, and restoring polluted sites to environmental health.
- Support and develop locally controlled, community scale, sustainable energy resources and practices, statewide mass transit, and energy-efficiency programs to combat climate change, protect our diverse ecosystem, and enhance our scenic beauty.
- Create a carbon tax that is used to develop alternatives to carbon-based energy.
Progressives know that a diverse variety of small scale agricultural operations, such as family farms, orchards, and woodlots, are essential to Vermont’s food security, economy, and cultural heritage, while large scale agriculture tends to threaten our environment, has dubious effects on our health, and promotes a debt-based economy. We will work to:
- Support fair trade pricing for Vermont family farms, and develop farm and community based food hubs, processing centers, and other infrastructure needed to broaden the market for Vermont agricultural products, and to make locally produced food more readily available statewide.
- Promote and enforce agricultural regulations that will protect food safety and the environment from the risks associated with factory farms, without becoming onerous burdens to small producers.
- Promote agricultural regulations which allow small producers to offer products that are unavailable otherwise, such as raw milk and farm slaughtered meat.
- Support efforts to transition to sustainable, organic farming practices, such as changing the laws so compost can be considered a tax exempt agricultural product and ensuring that those planting GMOs are held accountable for any damages caused by those crops or the methods needed to grow them.
Progressives believe a safe, stable and affordable place to Iive is the birthright of every Vermonter. We will work to:
- End homelessness by providing safe, stable, and affordable housing, rent subsidies and supportive services to all who desire and need them.
- Facilitate the creation of affordable housing by easing building and land use regulations without compromising safety, smart growth principles, or the livability of existing neighborhoods.
- Reverse federal cutbacks and increase funding for affordable housing, including Section 8, Community Development Block Grants, Public Housing, and the HOME program, among others.
- Maintain the balance between the rights and responsibilities of renters and landlords.
- Make it easier to apply for subsidized housing by instituting a universal, online application form.
- Increase the state's supply of affordable housing by providing full statutory funding for the Vermont Housing and Conservation Trust Fund.
- Preserve existing subsidized housing when current subsidies expire or the owner decides to sell or otherwise end its affordability.
- Create a statewide system for ensuring basic minimum standards of safety and habitability in the state’s rental housing.
Progressives believe that progress in the face of multi-billion dollar corporate interests requires serious participation by people in our communities, workplaces, and schools between elections. We will work to:
- Encourage events in our communities and at the State House to bring out the voices of the people.
- Preserve and strengthen local participation in Town Meeting Day and local decision-making on local/regional issues.
- Advocate for Town Meeting Day to be a state holiday to encourage local civic participation.
- Encourage participatory budgeting and an assessment of people’s needs on a local and state level to empower citizens to be involved in the financial decision making by government.
- Ensure all residents, regardless of citizenship status, have an effective voice in decisions that affect them in their communities and the state.
- Work to reduce exceptions to the Public Records Act and hold governmental bodies at all levels accountable to the Open Meeting Law.
Progressives believe that, although a well-trained military is necessary for national defense, military expenditures must be weighed in the context of domestic priorities. We oppose the concept of military spending as economic development. We will work to:
- End the occupation of Iraq and the on-going military commitment in Afghanistan/Pakistan.
- Support all proceedings to hold accountable any violators of the U.S. Constitution, international laws, and/or treaties.
- Restrict Vermont National Guard troops from assignment to war zones.
- Prohibit the use of torture.
- Oppose preemptive war.
- Support non-military initiatives and policies to resolve international conflict.
- Ensure Vermont’s veterans receive medical, emotional, and financial support according to their service-related disability.
Progressives believe Vermont can develop safe, secure, and stable energy sources. We will work to:
- Decommission Vermont Yankee safely with funds entirely provided by the plant owner (i.e., Entergy), and with a just transition for affected employees and communities.
- Promote investments and job development in energy conservation and weatherization programs.
- Promote the use of safe, clean, renewable, publicly and locally owned energy resources.
- Take positive and effective steps to significantly reduce, and ultimately eliminate, fossil fuel use.
Progressives believe Vermont’s transportation system is essential to a vibrant statewide economy and quality of life. Progressives understand that transportation is one of the main contributors to carbon emissions and that climate change adds new challenges to our transportation infrastructure. We will work to:
- Place a moratorium on all new major highway construction and focus on repair backlogs and improving the resilience of our existing infrastructure.
- Support development, improvement, and access to a comprehensive public mass transportation system including bicycles, light rail, Amtrak, buses and van services.
- Introduce transportation and land-use planning with incentives that promote walkable and bikeable access between and within communities.
- Promote modes of transportation which reduce carbon emissions and implement incentives to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
Progressives believe that taxes are essential to funding our social and economic needs and should be generally based on one’s ability to pay. We will work to:
- Eliminate Vermont’s capital gains tax exemption, and tax investment and unearned income at the same rate as low to moderately income households.
- Remove or significantly reduce Vermont’s education funding system reliance on residential property tax and find more a more progressive based revenue stream. Maintain property tax on industrial, commercial, and vacation homes as a source of revenue for education and other state services.
- Require overseas businesses with Vermont ties to pay the same corporate taxes as in-state businesses.
- Adopt a progressive income tax system where wealthier Vermonters, especially the top 5% wealthiest Vermonters, pay a higher percentage of tax on their income than low to moderately income Vermonters.
Progressives believe government should work for the people, not corporate interests, and it should do so transparently, and accessibly, without wasteful bureaucracy. Progressives insist on fair, accountable, and representative elections. We will work to:
- Prohibit the use of any proprietary-code or paper-trail-less voting machines and insure all elections are transparently audited to ensure accurate results.
- Ensure government accountability to taxpayers for taxpayer dollars.
- Institute Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), or another system of proportional voting, for state and local elections.
- Enhance campaign finance laws, to provide public financing for all elected positions, strictly limit or eliminate campaign contributions from corporations, PACs and political parties and reverse the doctrine of “corporate personhood.”
- Close the revolving door between government and industry, by implementing strict ethics laws which transparently hold lobbyists and public officials accountable, and which place a buffer between when a lobbyist can run for office, or an elected official can lobby their former colleagues.