Friday, October 14, 2016

Bait, Switch and Act 46.
John Moran

Property taxes are a top voter concern and during the 2014 campaign candidates promised to lower them. However, although tax reduction proposals were in the offing, once elected, legislators did what they’ve done in the past. They switched focus from funding to governance.
During my eight years in the legislature, I and others pushed for property tax reform while defending small schools, local control and choice. Now, in one biennium, taxes are going up and everything we protected is in jeopardy. Act 46 is the wrong law. Instead of lowering taxes it addresses problems that do not exist, while creating new ones.
The number of school boards is presented as a problem, when really it is a demonstration of Vermont grass roots involvement. The state wants autocratic, top-down control; the towns want democratic diversity.
Consolidation is offered as efficient, but puts small school districts at the mercy of larger ones on matters of choice, curriculum, governance and existence.
Complex education funding mechanisms, comprehended by few Vermonters, force voters to make precipitous decisions with limited understanding.
Schools with easy decisions to consolidate are given tax breaks at the expense of schools with complicated and difficult choices.
Although property taxes are a major concern, even proponents acknowledge that the act is not likely to lower them.
While denied publicly, the drive by many for consolidation is to close small schools, which are the life centers of our towns a school official told me, and the souls of our communities a town official said.
Little is gained by Act 46 and so much is lost.
So, in the 2017 legislature I and others first will push to eliminate homestead education property taxes, to be replaced by income based funding. Residential property taxes will be needed for municipal expenses only.
Then, we will begin to undo the damage, caused by Act 46. While not punishing those districts that, in good faith, moved forward in implementing the law, we will fight for those who have the good sense to resist it.
If you want to be part of the fight, join me.
Now is the Time for Worker Fairness
John Moran

Now is the time for fairness for those who create our economy: The ski lift operator, home care provider, waitstaff, groundskeeper, sales person, housekeeper and convenience store clerk.
A server in a small cafe tells me “I make $11 an hour, but I need more hours”. A  manager at a local ski resort says, “I had to work many years before I reached the beginning salary offered me elsewhere”.  “I work full time”, reports a single parent, “but still need public assistance to get by”. “Both of us work,” says a couple, “and it’s still not enough to pay the bills.”
  Many who work independently have enough control to secure decent wages for themselves and the workers they hire, but most who labor in the tourism, retail and service industries are subject to pay and conditions determined by others.
It is fair for those who start a business to expect a return on their investment; to those who take the risk should go the reward. Yet who really puts themselves on the line? The families who sign leases or take out mortgages, the parents who enroll their children in the local school, and all who connect with neighbors and create friendships. It is really the employees, along with owners of small businesses, who are locked into the community. For corporations a failure is no big deal, because they just take their money and go elsewhere; but for those committed locally business success is essential. A just return on their human investment calls for control of working conditions, including living wages and on-job respect.
Pay of at least fifteen dollars an hour is politically, economically and morally justified.
The Declaration of Independence asserts that we all have unalienable rights that are to be secured by government. Realizing that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness with inadequate resources are not possible, for us not to legislate a living income for all Vermonters is political negligence.
As two thirds of the economy is domestic spending, paying workers a living wage is a positive for all; families have the resources necessary for a good life and more money is put into local circulation, which increases business activity and encourages the creation of new ventures.
Most importantly, what moral argument can justify any industry in Vermont not paying its service providers an income sufficient for  themselves and their families? Many socially responsible businesses already know that the wellbeing of staff is as important as profits. It is time for all of us to determine our economic destiny by supporting an economy that serves our values of progress while taking care of our own and pays all our workers what they already have earned, a living wage.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Financial Security for our Senior Citizens by John Moran

If I am a Vermont senior living on an insufficient, fixed income, I deal with difficult daily realities: Choosing between food or medication or between feeding myself or my pet; not going out because I can’t afford a vehicle and public transportation is unavailable; or, weighing carefully every purchase I make. My only human contact may be the volunteer who delivers Meals-on-Wheels. I am anxious about paying my property taxes or in constant dread that an unexpected expense is going to throw me into uncontrollable debt.
In the second oldest state, with 30% of our citizens over 55 (the fastest population increase being persons over 65) and many seniors finding living in our district unaffordable, financial security for my fellow seniors is to me a major concern.
Ideally social security, funded by worker contributions, provides for a decent retirement after a lifetime of labor. However, funding and distribution prove less than ideal and add to a growing economic inequality. During the work years, whole categories of employees, particularly women, are underpaid and thus receive less in retirement benefits. Meanwhile, the affluent, through regressive funding, do not pay their fair share. Upon retirement, the well-to-do have a variety of incomes and social security for them is supplemental, but for the not-so-well-off social security is survival.
Enemies of social security want to weaken the program, lessen benefits, decrease cost-of-living adjustments and remove government control. Arguing that Americans are living longer, they want to raise the benefit eligibility age, ignoring that it is the rich, not the low income workers, whose longevity is increasing. Hard working Vermonters, who often bring the aches and pains of years of physical labor and limited survival years into retirement, need a lower eligibility age.
For retiring Vermonters, we must continue our government controlled social security program with increased benefits; an eligibility age returned to 65; a more comprehensive medicare (open to 55 year-olds) which includes lower drug prices; supplemental payments to bring everyone to a livable income; and, full commitment to all community services, such as home delivered meals, in-home supports, senior centers, guaranteed transportation, safe public accommodations; and, consumer fraud protection. For Vermonters still in the workforce we need increased contributions from higher income participants, and for lower income workers a living wage, equal pay for women, paid sick and family leave, reasonably priced housing, publicly financed health care, debt-free education, affordable day care and a state sponsored retirement program.

Do not go gentle into that good night, says Dylan Thomas to his father.
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Let us not go gentle into underfunded retirement, but rage against a system that has so many of us struggling to achieve what we contributed to, a comfortable, productive and happy closing of our years.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

My best years

My best years, the last twenty-seven, have been living in Wardsboro, married to Chérie, step father to Emi and Eri, and sharing our home with a number of Cairn Terriers. From my arrival in town, on advice from my late father-in-law Tim Keeler, I’ve been involved in various community activities: health officer, Fourth of July Parade, select board, school board and four terms as our state representative to the Vermont House. Looking out for our town and our district has always been my reason for public  service, and so actions by the state legislature over the last two years have caused me  concern.
My eight years in Montpelier protecting community control of eduction, small schools and choice have been jeopardized by Act 46. Instead of lowering property taxes which was the clear call from voters in the last election, the legislature diverted attention to governance, addressing problems that did not exist, while adding complications and confusion to the work of our dedicated school boards.
The results of the March presidential primaries demonstrate voter dissatisfaction  with present economic conditions, and while the legislature continues a quest for elusive good paying jobs, it overlooks the challenges of the current, underpaid creators of our district economy, the housekeepers, ski lift operators and service and retail employees.
To look out for our own, hard working families and students in our town and district, to fight for a livable wage for all and community centered education, and to continue my commitment to work with you at home and for you in Montpelier, I am running to retake the Windham-Bennington House seat. I ask for your support in the primary in August and the general election in November.
Thank you, John Moran, Wardsboro.

Bucketville News — July, 2106

Monday, April 11, 2016

$15 Minimum Wage

Rights and Democracy
Press Conference
March 9, 2016
Cedar Creek Room

Every town in Vermont voted for Senator Sanders in the recent Democratic primary.

Like Bernie, people are angry.
Oppressed by a rigged economy.
Working harder, longer hours for less pay.

Especially those in the retail, tourism and service industries.
The salesman, the waitress, the handy man, the chambermaid, the house keeper, the nursing assistant, the home care provider.
The creators of our economy and providers of our human services.
By use of head, heart and hand every one of them already earns a livable wage.
They're just not paid that.
Through wage theft, they are relegated to servitude.

No business that does not pay a livable wage, according to FDR, has a right to exist.
And I say that no business is entitled to tax considerations in Vermont that does not create jobs that at least pay a livable wage..

In a country where twenty individuals possess as much wealth as one hundred, sixty-five million Americans, it is safe to say that our economic system is not working.

It is time to join Rights and Democracy and Senator Bernie Sanders in a call for economic/social justice and environmental sanity.

And let us start with a livable wage of at least fifteen dollars an hour for all Vermonters.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Vermont Revolution

Now is the time for Vermont to join Bernie Sanders’ political revolution: To go from the 1776 guaranteeing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, through the New Deal creating the middle class, to today’s delivering the American Promise to all. According to our Declaration of Independence, government is instituted to secure our unalienable rights, and in a democracy, government is guided by our cultural, social, ethical, political and economic values. Although no value is superior, at the expense of the others, a robust economy is essential to our Vermont revolution.
During the Eisenhower years, by intentional actions, we came close to a just economy: A shrinking gap between the upper and the middle class, decent paying jobs, strong unions, thirty-year mortgages toward home ownership, secure retirements, and a better future for our children. Many in the nineteen fifties, however, were left out, including minorities, the poor, and the disenfranchised. And now, from the seventies, through Ronald Reagan to today, an ever widening income and wealth gap leaves most of us out. Restoring the middle class will not complete the American Promise. As long as we acknowledge an upper and a middle class, we acquiesce to an abandoned lower class.
Capitalism is the servant of democracy, not her master. Arguments for free markets and limited governance contradict the active role our independence declaration assigns to government. An unregulated system, that institutionalizes unemployment, inequality, and poverty, or that sustains itself (particularly in the service and retail sectors) by under paying its workers, is ethically unacceptable, and demands corrective acton. Our economic system does not determine our destiny; we, the people, do.
Consequently, in the first phase of our revolution, we will advance toward a prosperous Vermont with focus on three interrelated areas:
Fair working conditions: No business has a right to exist, according to FDR, that does not pay its workers a livable wage, nor does any industry that reduces its employees to servitude. Given that 70% of our economy comes form domestic spending, mandating a livable wage for all Vermonters not only does right by our workers but also creates a cash flow crucial to business success. Added worker protections, health care, paid sick leave, and other benefits give the true creators of our economy (waitstaff, home health providers, domestic help, ski lift operators) the resources necessary for full and productive lives.
Job creation through infrastructure expansion: Arguably the greatest public works project in our history (the Eisenhower Highway System), did not come from a trickle-down, limited-government minded president. This bold, nation-wide infrastructure program, which contributed to the post World War II prosperity, can serve as a model to boost Vermont’s economy by employing prevailing wage workers to enhance our transportation, energy, and telecommunications infrastructure, that will in turn attract businesses with good paying jobs to our state.
Progressive taxation: To promote the American Promise we must provide public safety, social services and cultural opportunities available to all Vermonters through equitable, progressive taxation. Income, whether from labor or investment will be assessed equally, tax exemptions will be based on the common good, and business incentives will go only to employers who create sufficient, livable  wage jobs.
In these times of severe economic inequality, it is time for our revolution to make the promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness real for all Vermonters.