VLIAC 2014 Legislative Priorities
VLIAC Vermont Low Income Advocacy Council
"Celebrating 42 years of representing the interest of low income Vermonters"
2014 Selected Legislative Priorities – UPDATED
Fifty Years ago President Johnson delivered his "War on Poverty" address to Congress saying: "Poverty is a national problem . . . "Our aim is not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it," and on March 16, 1964, President Johnson called on Congress to pass the Economic Opportunity Act "to eliminate the paradox of poverty on the midst of plenty in this nation by opening . . . to everyone . . . the opportunity for education and training, the opportunity to work, and the opportunity to live in decency and dignity."
Congress met that challenge and passed the 1964 "Economic Opportunity Act", which the President signed it into law, stating that "Our American answer to poverty is not to make the poor more secure in their poverty but to reach down and help them lift themselves out of the ruts of poverty and move . . . along the high road of hope and prosperity…."
At this, the 50th Anniversary of the "War on Poverty", Vermont and other states in the nation are experiencing economic stagnation and slow recovery and the number of people living in poverty continues to increase. Many Vermont families are still struggling to make a decent living, and have not yet realized the promise of economic opportunity.
This year the State and the Legislature are continuing to take steps to tackle issues of poverty and to make investments in long term solutions. The Legislature reenacted the Child Poverty Council and started the year with an update of the progress in the State, and made policy recommendations for the Legislature to work on, including early education, oral health, and economic security. The Governor created an advisory panel, "Pathways from Poverty", that made recommendations the Governor included in his proposed Fiscal Year 2015 budget.
Advocates have opened up an ongoing dialogue and a working relationship with the administration, and have been working with the legislature to address the "Safety Net" issues including: 3SquaresVT, LIHEAP, and General Assistance. The proposed budget includes additional investments in affordable housing, increased rental subsidies and addiction treatment and recovery options, all in the effort to address pressing needs in Vermont.
Policy legislation being considered by committees addresses economic opportunities that "make work pay" for Reach-Up recipients and lower wage earners, including "Paid Sick Days" and increasing the "Minimum Wage".
However, the budget is built without raising appropriate revenues again this year, and state dollars are being stretched and expected to cover increasing needs. More substantial investments need to be made if we are to realize the promise of economic opportunity and win the "War on Poverty" in this country.