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?
Daudelin thinks the primary focus for low-income Vermonters should be individualized health care.
“I would say they need to go talk to their primary physicians,” said Daudelin. “If they don't have a primary physician, I would expect the state to provide them with one -- at no cost to them if they can't afford it.”
What should the state do to address the need for affordable, quality childcare?
“There can be something so simple as having on-site daycare where the parents can work and have access to their young children at the same time,” said Daudelin.
Daudelin thinks the state shouldn’t be paying for that childcare at work locations but rather give businesses tax incentives so employers can instead spend that money on providing supervision.
A substantial deficit is projected for the fiscal year 2022 budget. How should the legislature address anticipated shortfalls?
Daudelin thinks Vermont, as an employer, can look at itself to find ways of cutting costs and saving funds.
“I have seen the money waste that the State of Vermont puts in into their employees,” said Daudelin, referring to the nine years he spent working for the Department of Health.
He said there shouldn’t be areas where supervisors are only managing a handful of staff members and the state should, instead, consolidate departments to make cuts through a reduction in its workforce.
What about the Education Fund, which is also expected to take a big hit from COVID-19?
“I don't know how they're going to solve that,” said Daudelin. He went on to state that Vermont needs to “really tighten the belt.”
“We are spending way too much money,” said Daudelin, “way more money than we’re bringing in. A good business doesn’t do that, because it goes out of business very quickly.”
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?
Daudelin started by saying he’s not in favor of defunding the police or cutting its training funds. He went on to say he would set up a commission of civilians in each department to investigate claims of abuse, “because I don't think it happens as much as some people would say that it does.”
“They should be intelligent people,” said Daudelin, “people capable of listening to facts in the form of evidence and making an impartial decision on whether there was abuse or not.”
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?
Daudelin thinks the legislature should “realize that there is no climate change problem” and said that even if the United States did reduce its carbon emissions, it would be miniscule in comparison to what other countries, such as Russia, China, India, and Pakistan, contribute to the Earth’s pollution.
“How are you going to prevent those countries from polluting the United States?” Daudelin questioned. “We're doing our part. They aren’t, and there's nothing we can do -- that I'm aware of. I think it's just a big hoax.”