It’s the start of the New Year, and for most people struggling to wake up from their food induced holiday coma that means one thing: New Year’s Resolutions. NYRs can be rather tricky; emboldened by everyone else jumping into the same boat we often tend to set the bar a little high for ourselves; am I really going to go to the gym every morning before work and cut out carbs after eight? An insatiable love of pasta and a number of late-starting football games have pretty much ruined those already, but there’s one resolution we truly hope for: that the new Administration and Legislature will work to solve our state’s challenges with focused and meaningful governance from the statehouse.
You might say that it’s an odd resolution given that as outsiders we have limited control over what is and is not discussed in the chambers and on the floor under the dome. And yet, it means far more to me than cardio at 6am. The reason is this: the solutions required to cut my own bloat are multitudinous and of my own design, while those required to handle what has swelled to a $150 million shortfall are complicated by history, connections, interests, economic and social wellbeing, and (of course) cost.
Therein lies the problem: without a strong plan and steadfast leadership, decisions are delayed and agendas become labyrinthine. The challenge is that we don’t get a chance to set our own goals: either we close the deficit or we accept an unbalanced budget creating further instability next year. With a new Governor coming into office, there are high hopes that bold steps will be the name of the game; however, as a state we need to realize that solving the $150M nut is not just a matter of cutting large swathes of budget. There is a significant amount of value for our future in understanding that we must also focus on growing out of our deficit. Strategically placed reductions will make government leaner, but if we don’t also fuel our economic engine and put it on a focused path, we will find ourselves stagnating.
GBIC is working with a consortium of partners on a HUD Sustainable Communities grant that will include an outreach process and document development for a strategic industry sector analysis and economic plan for Chittenden County. These reports will have the capacity to drive not just discussions about how and where our economy can and should go, but to encourage and embolden action. These results will not be immediate, and the development of the projects will likely take some time, however, as these processes and projects develop let me humbly recommend a resolution to employers of all sizes in the greater Burlington area: stay in contact with your legislators. Let them know to call you if they have a question on a bill that may impact your business, and be sure to pick up the phone when they do. Be proactive in ensuring that the on-the-ground effects of legislation are understood in the appropriate committees; GBIC and the LCRCC are continually working to message legislators with your voices, but nothing speaks more clearly than hearing it directly from the people who create jobs.
If you have questions regarding contacting your legislators, or would like help in finding the appropriate channels through which to voice your opinion, please don’t hesitate to contact our legislative team of Dawn Francis ([email protected]) and Cathy Davis ([email protected]).