The trio of gubernatorial candidates are winding up.
If you know their positions on issues, you wouldn't have heard much new or surprising this afternoon.
Gov. Jim Douglas repeatedly told the largely business audience that there was no need -- not even the backlog of road and bridge work -- that justified raising taxes.
House Speaker Gaye Symington
responded to Douglas' criticism that she and the House had supported raising the gasoline tax to provide more money for road and bridges. She argued that if the tax had been raised several years ago, there would be fewer bad roads and deteriorating bridges. But now, with higher fuel costs, she would no longer advocate any increase in gasoline taxes to pay for road and bridge work.Pollina
suggested closing the loophole in the capital gain tax and using some of that money to cover debt payments on $75 million in bonding for roads and bridges.
There was a bit of an exchange between Symington
over health care.Pollina
offered his idea that all of Vermont could be in one self-insured health coverage pool. He criticized Catamount
Health as another patch on a failing system.Symington
conceded that more progress was needed
to ensure that everyone has coverage and everyone pays in -- but she shot at Pollina
that "We need
to get real about options. There are federal barriers that get in the way now."Symington
made sure the audience knew that Douglas once proposed a tax on health care premiums. Douglas explained that some premiums are already taxes and he proposed a consistent policy.
The candidates were asked about putting a moratorium on new transportation projects -- but none of them embraced or really even answered the question.
They were asked about weight limits on the interstate and Douglas and Pollina
seemed to agree that consistent rules across the region would make sense.Throughout
the debate, Douglas and Symington
sparred over who had initiated
or block various ideas. Douglas said the Legislature failed to go far enough on workers compensation reforms. Symington
said it was the Legislature that has taken the lead in energy efficiency planning and programs.Pollina
took every opportunity to use the word "gridlock" after one of those sparring sessions. His best line was perhaps in response to the health care back and forth. "Under the leadership of both these fine folks, it (the current health care system) isn't working."
The candidates received the questions in advance -which I'm sure they appreciated since the questions were complex and multi-faceted.
It appeared that Symington
was working from talking points for each question. Pollina
has some papers in front of him, but didn't refer to them as constantly as Symington
. Douglas spoke without notes.
-- Nancy Remsen