Candidates Discuss Health Care, Economy at Gov Forum

by Rachel Aragon, 4/9/16, MyChamplaignValley.com

On Saturday Vermont's gubernatorial candidates made their pitch to voters.

Four of the five candidates from both parties weighed in on the top issues concerning Vermonters at the Rights and Democracy forum.

They tackled everything from health care to the environment to income inequality.

"You have to raise the minimum wage for those whom it is not affordable," says Democrat Peter Galbraith.

All four candidates from both sides of the political spectrum say they are in favor of a minimum wage hike, including former Transportation Secretary Sue Minter.

"My target is $12.50 by 2018, and stepping forward with the goal of $15 an hour," says Minter.

But Republican businessman Bruce Lisman says a gradual increase is very important.

“The problem with minimum wage is that is doesn't always catch the right part of the population," says Lisman.  "So the effect isn't as powerful as certainly you would think."

Republican candidate and current Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott skipped Saturday's forum hosted by grassroots organization Rights and Democracy.                                    

"Because the race is wide open, there really is not a clear favorite," says UVM Political Science Professor, Garrison Nelson.

He believes none of the candidates will run on Governor Peter Shumlin's record.

“I'm not sure they'll be running away from it, but I can't imagine them running with him.”

The candidate's kept their distance from Shumlin when it came to Vermont Health Connect, the state-run health insurance exchange.

"The huge budget deficits you see in the legislation year after year can be directly attributed to health care costs," says Democratic candidate Matt Dunne.

"With an additional subsidy you can reduce pay, you can reduce co-pays, you can reduce deductibles and you make the premiums more affordable," says Galbraith.

A second gubernatorial candidate forum was held Saturday evening in Bennington.

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