By Mike Yantachka

Rep. Mike Yantachka

The president’s State of the Union address is a tradition of our democracy that allows the head of the executive branch of the government to express his vision for America. It usually addresses a broad range of issues at a high level and is short on detail. Whether or not you agree with what is said, at least you get a pretty good idea of where the speaker is coming from. This got me thinking about my own communications, so I thought I’d try to deliver my own vision of what I try to accomplish as I serve as your representative in Montpelier.

Let me start by saying that, as wonderful as Vermont is, we all want to help make our state a better place to live, work and play. We want Vermont to be affordable, not just for those at the top of the income bracket but for everyone. Every family should have the opportunity to thrive, to be able to earn a living wage. While our minimum wage is above average, I believe that it should continue to rise gradually over time until it becomes a livable wage.

Likewise, no employee should have to worry about losing their pay or even their job if they have to take time off to care for a sick child or elderly parent. That is why I voted for paid family leave last year, a bill that is awaiting action in the Senate. For those who are stuck in low wage jobs, we need to continue to increase access to training, career and technical education so that every Vermonter has a fair shot at success.

We have a great education system, but the cost of education continues to place a heavy burden on property taxes. With the additional demands placed on our schools from addiction, mental illness and poverty, great public schools in all our communities are more important than ever in giving all children a bright future. During this session we are proposing a system of education funding that is simpler, still progressive and still subject to local control, and that will significantly reduce property tax burdens. Nor can we forget about the need to support pre-K and post high school educational opportunities.

Another core value is healthy families in healthy communities. The costs of health insurance and housing are the biggest challenges faced by many Vermonters. While Republicans in Washington are dismantling the Affordable Care Act and cutting funding for Medicare and Medicaid we need to make health insurance more affordable and ensure that Vermonters have access to treatment, without barriers, for drug addiction and mental health. A key to maintaining individual health is affordable housing. We need to support affordable housing development in downtowns and in village centers that also provides access to jobs, shopping and public transportation.

Finally, we need a healthy environment. We can’t put off efforts to clean our lakes and streams. We have to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, which has become a major contributor to climate change. Extreme weather events as well as adverse health effects, Lyme disease, algae blooms, heat waves, and extreme cold are the result. We can’t afford to do nothing,

These are some of the values that frame my work in the Legislature. I hope that my work will lead to a better Vermont for us and for our children and grandchildren.

I’ll end by reminding you that I will be hosting an informational forum at the Charlotte Senior Center on Monday. February 12, at 7 p.m. on the topic of pricing carbon pollution. I hope to see you there.

As always, I can be reached by phone at (802) 233-5238 or by email.