COVID-19 exposed the cracks in Vermont’s social safety net. What else, if anything, should the legislature be doing to address the impact of the pandemic on low-income Vermonters?
Gaskill simply stated, “If there is money in the budget, the assistance should be extended if there’s documentation that they've lost their job due to COVID.”
What should the state do to address the need for affordable, quality childcare?
Gaskill believes the state should reverse actions taken over the last several years to unionize childcare employees “and the regulations that have led directly to the shortage of childcare that we have today.”
A substantial deficit is projected for the fiscal year 2022 budget. How should the legislature address anticipated shortfalls?
Gaskill said there’s a “significant amount of waste” in government and thinks that Vermont should return to the budgets it had 10-15 years ago. He also said that the state should reduce the number of its employees as a way to save money, saying that Vermont has increased how many people work for it despite not having a similar increase in population size.
Gaskill mentioned a “redundancy” in school administration that contributes to the waste and said that cuts need to be made “across the board in most departments of government."
For revenue, Gaskill said he is against any tax increases.
What about the Education Fund, which is also expected to take a big hit from COVID-19?
Gaskill thinks schools should be sharing teachers among themselves and even among other districts.
“There are teachers with a fair amount of downtime, where they could be teaching classes at other schools,” he said.
Gaskill also believes that salaries for education employees could be cut to reduce spending.
The legislature this session took some steps to address concerns about use of excessive force by police and the inequities in how often people of color are subjected to motor vehicle stops and criminal charges. Do you think those actions were sufficient or is there more to be done?
“I think they are probably sufficient,” said Gaskill. He also believes that the statistics used to look at disparities are “faulty” and that “there is significantly less of a problem than what is being claimed by some.”
Scientists largely agree action is needed to delay the worst impacts of climate change. Vermont is also starting to see the impacts of a changing climate firsthand, with shorter winters, harsher storms and so-called “climigration.” What actions, if any, do you feel the legislature should be taking to reduce Vermont’s share of carbon emissions and ready the state for the effects of a changing climate?
“Nothing,” stated Gaskill. “The climate has always fluctuated.” He went on to say that he doesn’t think Vermont can do anything that will affect Earth’s overall climate.
Gaskill added, “Efforts that will increase the cost and make it even harder for low-income people to live affordably in this state should be fought at every turn.”
Asked about the Global Warming Solutions Act, Gaskill said, “Placing an unelected, unaccountable board of any kind -- making decisions about what happens to the people in this state -- is an unforgivable violation of trust that the people of this state have put in their elected officials. It is equivalent to dictatorship by proxy.”