The People’s Plan: Budget and Revenue Policy that Upholds Our Human Rights

The Douglas administration’s budget proposal threatens the fundamental human rights of Vermonters by disregarding such basic needs as healthcare, housing, education, social security and dignified work. The administration’s attempt to cut social services, reduce government oversight and lay off workers, while it stubbornly continues to pursue regressive fiscal policy, represents a failure to recognize, accept and uphold the government’s human-rights obligations to its people.

Rather than seek economic justice, the Douglas administration clings to an economic theory that has been indisputably discredited by recent events. Rather than seek social justice, the Douglas administration offers only neglect of those most in need.

We oppose the Douglas plan and proposes instead a People’s Plan, which embraces and embodies the role of government as a guarantor of the human rights of its people. Among these rights are the right to health, the right to housing, the right to education, the right to dignified work and the right to security in times of need. The People’s Plan assures that Vermont can become a place where these rights are afforded to everyone, without exception, without discrimination and with the burdens and benefits shared equitably. It is a plan for economic recovery based on a vision of justice.

The People’s Plan has three main thrusts:

* maintaining and expanding programs in areas of fundamental need, including human services, housing, education and employment;
* instituting equitable revenue policies that increase the contribution of the wealthy and tax unearned income at no less than the same rate as other income;
* establishing a system of universal healthcare that is equitable, is accountable to the people and eliminates all barriers to the enjoyment of the human right to health.

Bills that constitute the People’s Plan include H.100/S.88 (healthcare), H.177 (revenue) and H.257 (public services).

H.100/S.88 would create a publicly-financed, integrated, regional healthcare delivery system with mechanisms for cost containment. It would establish healthcare as a public good instead of a commodity, would greatly reduce the inefficiencies inherent in the current uncoordinated patchwork of public and private finance systems, would improve the quality of healthcare services and would make healthcare available to all.

H.177 would temporarily restore the "Snelling Surcharge," a series of tiered surtaxes on Vermonters with incomes significantly higher than the median in the state. This bill represents a start toward restoring the system of equitable, progressive taxation that we once had. We need also to close the capital gains tax loophole that allows unearned income to be taxed at a much lower rate than wages.

H.257 would require the administration to demonstrate a net cost reduction to the state, before it eliminates any state employee. It would also require the administration to demonstrate that the services provided by a federally funded position are no longer needed by any resident of the state, before it eliminates such a position.

These bills and others yet to be drafted embody the People's Plan. Other initiatives include economic-development policy that invests in energy efficiency, affordable housing, education and rural telecommunications infrastructure, instead of in dubious tax incentives.