As adopted by the Vermont Democratic Party Platform Convention
August 26, 2018
STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES
The Vermont Democratic Party believes in the values of opportunity, fairness, equity and equality, community, safety, stewardship and democracy.
We believe the role of responsible, responsive, and accountable government is to protect and empower people. We believe in a government with opportunities for Vermonters to participate and have their voices heard.
The mantra on lower taxes and less government does not contribute to just distribution of wealth. It is possible to create a fair taxation system where everyone benefits. The Vermont Democratic Party stands for the public good.
We understand that we can and must take the lead against the divisive policies of Republican officials here in Vermont and nationally, as well as an increasingly right-wing federal judiciary.
We hold these principles, goals, and commitments in common as members of the Vermont Democratic Party, and will work together and individually to promote them as the guiding philosophy of a just and fair government.
The Vermont Democratic Party believes that our state and country must create economic opportunities for all to prosper. Building on the Democratic traditions of the New Deal, we must continue to help all of our citizens live in dignity. We are determined to protect historic advances like Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, civil and human rights, and the Affordable Care Act.
The government must be committed to full employment for all.
Unchecked capitalism and corporate greed have left our nation in disrepair, with greater economic disparity than at any other time in our history. Workers' rights have been gutted by deep-pocketed profiteers, who seek to dismantle labor unions and put employees at the mercy of bottom-line objectives.
The Vermont Democratic Party is committed to the development of jobs that provide all workers with a livable wage, the right to organize, and the right to collectively bargain for wages and benefits. We believe in increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour or more and ensuring all workers have paid family leave and access to high-quality, affordable childcare so that they will never have to choose between a loved one's health and a paycheck.
We believe that small businesses are the engine of the Vermont economy and that owners should have access to capital and assistance in meeting regulatory requirements. Rather than giving tax dollars in ineffective attempts to lure large, out-of-state corporations, economic development efforts should focus on building and supporting Vermont small businesses, and helping workers develop job skills. We are committed to the establishment of a public pension system for these businesses so that all workers can retire with dignity.
The agricultural and forestry sectors are a critical part of Vermont’s heritage and our modern economy. We support efforts to sustain and grow these sectors, supporting environmentally sound and economically innovative efforts to strengthen these industries, especially small farms, and ensure dignity for all who work in this field, regardless of immigration status.
A strong infrastructure is necessary for a strong economy. We must ensure that all Vermonters and our visitors have access to cell phone service, as well as high-speed internet delivered under net neutrality rules. We must improve our transportation infrastructure, including maintaining and improving our roads and bridges, as well as developing better public transportation options, including expanded rail.
The Vermont Democratic Party is the Party of opportunity. We believe in growing the economy by investing in the American worker and creating a level playing field where all of us can succeed.
Fairness is a core value of Vermont Democrats. The idea that everything government does should be applied fairly to all Vermonters, not just a select few, is and will always be at the heart of what the Vermont Democratic Party stands for.
The Vermont Democratic Party emphatically believes a strong public education system is the cornerstone of a strong democracy. Equal access to high quality, public pre-K—16, including technical and higher education, is the cornerstone of Vermont’s economic health, quality workforce, and good citizenship. This commitment to high quality education for all children in the state results in all students learning well, regardless of their socioeconomic status. The VDP recognizes that there is tremendous financial pressure on our excellent public schools and property taxpayers. The Vermont Democratic Party supports past efforts to consolidate districts with local decision-making, to improve the delivery of special education services and early education programs, to create better educational outcomes, and to provide equal treatment for all students in school-based disciplinary systems.
The Vermont Democratic Party strongly supports Vermont public education and public school employees and opposes current efforts to divert public resources from public schools which are open to all. The Vermont Democratic Party also strongly supports efforts to replace reliance on property tax funding with a fair, income-based funding system. The Vermont Democratic Party supports more funding, grants, and borrower-friendly no or low-interest loans, for the higher education system to make college affordable and accessible for all.
The Vermont Democratic Party opposes fiscally irresponsible policies, such as using one-time funds to artificially balance the education fund and create future deficits, and the underfunding of pension obligations.
The Vermont Democratic Party strongly supports fully funding wages, benefits, and the state’s responsibilities for state employees’ and teachers’ pension funds, and strongly opposes the privatization of any state jobs.
The Vermont Democratic Party is committed to fair progressive taxation that always provides a balanced budget which reflects our values of social and environmental responsibility. We will work to pass tax reforms that address one of the most serious problems in Vermont and the country: vast income inequality. The Vermont Democratic Party supports ongoing efforts to modernize our state tax system to reflect a 21st century economy.
Equity & Equality
We recognize that an expectation of full respect and dignity regardless of sex, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, age, physical ability, mental health status, gender reassignment, incarceration history, or immigration status is our common birthright as human beings. Public policy may include hate crime legislation, sexual harassment and assault protections, affirmative action, education, and policies guaranteeing equal access to services and facilities.
We support fair and impartial policing. We further recognize that all people, regardless of immigration status, religious expression, and race, have a right to expect that matters of inequity and discrimination be addressed without equivocation or delay, whether that take the form of judicial action, law enforcement, community organizing, support from the private or nonprofit sectors, or public policy.
Vermont Democrats reject divisive rhetoric that has found its way into current political discourse, especially that which spreads hate, division, and fear towards vulnerable and marginalized individuals or communities.
The Vermont Democratic Party will work to amend Article I of the Vermont Constitution to clarify that slavery in any form is absolutely prohibited.
Vermont Democrats recognize that racism and racial bias exist in Vermont. We support expanding anti-racism and anti-bias education in our schools, for law enforcement personnel, and for our public officials.
All Vermonters have the right to live in communities that are safe and healthy. Government has an essential role in advancing that goal: partnering with communities, families, individuals and the private sector to ensure all Vermonters have access to the healthcare, housing, child care, and social services that they need.
We strongly support the passage of a national “Medicare for All” program which guarantees quality, affordable, accountable health care for all, including primary and specialty care, mental health, prescription drugs, oral health, optical care, auditory care, prevention services, rehabilitative care, long term, and end-of-life care.
Until such a national program is enacted, we must defend existing programs that have helped make Vermont one of the healthiest states in the country, and work to expand affordability, access, and quality for all. We need to act aggressively to counter excessive prescription drug pricing that keeps necessary medications out of reach for too many Vermonters.
We support the principles and goals of Act 48, which declare that health care should be a public good, and which lays out the goal of “comprehensive, affordable, high-quality, publicly financed health care coverage for all Vermont residents provided in a seamless manner regardless of income, assets, health status, or availability of other health coverage.” A logical first step toward this goal would be to enact a publicly financed universal primary care program.
The Vermont Democratic Party supports the individual right to make reproductive decisions, including the right to make informed independent decisions about health, sex, family planning, and access to abortion. We strongly oppose any effort to overturn Roe v. Wade, or to otherwise restrict abortion access at the national or state level. We commit to doing everything possible at the state level to ensure continued access to these services, including securing funding, should Roe v. Wade be overturned. We reject the politically targeted attacks and efforts to defund family planning organizations, including Planned Parenthood.
We must strengthen the availability of quality mental health services in communities across the state, especially in underserved rural and cultural communities.
Vermont’s population is aging. Programs that enable older and disabled people to remain in their homes are a vital part of healthy communities. This includes support for caregivers, transportation, accessibility improvements, other supportive services, and development of walkable and accessible city, town and village centers.
Safe, secure housing is a fundamental need of all people. The Vermont Democratic Party supports programs to promote home ownership, construction of affordable residences for rent or sale, enforcement of safe housing standards, and increasing funding for low-income rental subsidies. We must also fully fund home heating assistance and home energy efficiency programs, and pursue a “housing first” strategy to provide housing for homeless and housing insecure people.
The opioid crisis and other forms of substance use disorder continue to have a profound impact on Vermont individuals, families, and communities. We support a comprehensive program of effective immediate treatment on-demand, on-going recovery support services, overdose prevention in medical settings/community, scientifically-proven harm reduction strategies, prevention programs, and alternative treatment methods. We must treat people in recovery with dignity and non-discrimination, and provide opportunities for employment, education, and engagement in the community. To help fund these programs, Vermont should seek compensation from prescription opioid manufacturers.
Safety & Justice
Every Vermonter deserves to live in safe communities and attend safe schools without fear of crime or violence. That can only happen with meaningful economic and educational opportunities for all, targeted programs for the most marginalized and vulnerable, unbiased community-based law enforcement, and smart reforms to our criminal justice system. We must adequately fund our law enforcement, courts, and public defenders to ensure a system that protects all people and is fair to everyone. We must adopt a comprehensive approach to prevent domestic violence and to protect all who are impacted by it.
We oppose the policy of detaining families seeking refugee status. We oppose separating children from parents seeking refugee status.
We support substantially reducing the number of Vermonters held in prisons by embracing alternatives to incarceration, including adequate mental health services, restorative justice programs, drug courts, transitional housing, and job training. Alternative sentencing should be incorporated into our approach to criminal justice. We support reducing the use of cash bail, especially as it affects those in poverty.
We support ensuring that the collateral consequences of criminal convictions do not last a lifetime, by enabling more people to clear their records after having repaid their debt to society. To do this, we must expand access and reduce financial and bureaucratic barriers to expungement.
We support ending the practice of sending Vermonters to prisons out of state. We strenuously oppose any involvement of private, for-profit prison companies in Vermont’s correctional system.
The Vermont Democratic Party respects the right of law-abiding citizens to own firearms for hunting, sport, and personal protection. We applaud the common sense measures enacted by the legislature in 2018 to address the threat of gun violence through expanded background checks, limits on magazine capacity, mandating safety training for those under the age of 21 to be able to purchase guns, extreme risk protection orders, and domestic violence interventions.
We believe that marijuana should be legal, taxed, and regulated in the interests of consumer and public safety, as well as economic opportunity. We recognize that the “War on Drugs” has been disproportionately focused on people of color and those with low incomes, and urge the adoption of non-discriminatory, public health-based approaches. We believe that Vermont’s policies towards drug use and abuse should be motivated by a desire to reduce harm, rather than to punish undesirable private behavior.
Vermonters cherish the environment of our beautiful state. The Vermont Democratic Party is passionately committed to combating the devastating impact of climate change that threatens our way of life. Vermonters can rely on the Vermont Democratic Party to aggressively pursue the goals stated in the Consolidated Clean Energy Planning and Economic Act to attain 90% renewable energy by 2050.
The Vermont Democratic Party recognizes the importance of our natural resources to Vermont outdoor recreation, farming, forestry, and tourism, as well as its inherent essential role in creating a healthy, sustainable ecosystem that cleans our air, sequesters carbon, produces drinking water, and serves as the habitat for all living things. To that end we will tirelessly fight to protect our natural resources, clean our waterways, and reduce the exposure of all Vermonters to toxic substances. Adequate, steady, long-term funding is essential to realize these goals. We will continue to press for funding to support cleanup at the state and municipal levels throughout the state.
We encourage our Democratic candidates to refuse funding from fossil fuel companies.
We oppose fracking and strongly encourage investigation into renewable sources of energy.
The Vermont Democratic Party encourages the identification and protection of Vermont’s unusual ecological habitats and critical wildlife corridors, and supports the protection of threatened and endangered species native to Vermont.
We believe that polluters should be held financially responsible for the consequences of the pollution they create.
Democrats understand that “We, the people of Vermont” are “the government”. We stand for the separation of powers among the co-equal Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches of government, held to account by voters informed by a free press. All actions of government must be conducted with transparency, fairness, responsibility and accountability.
We insist that voting and voter registration should be convenient, easily accessible, and understandable for all, with a clear, auditable paper trail for all ballots.
The U.S. Supreme Court has opened the door to unlimited dark money and campaign spending by Super PACs, “social welfare organizations”, independent expenditure groups, and other powerful interests. We reject this pernicious influence on our electoral process, whether by special interests, wealthy individuals or foreign powers. We will support efforts to counter this trend.
The Vermont Democratic Party is committed to substantive campaign finance reform, including an effective public financing system, complete transparency in campaign funding, encouraging small contributions, and limiting the political influence of powerful corporate interests.
We believe in an open and accountable government, including adherence to all open meeting and public records laws. We support an Ethics Commission with the resources necessary to carry out their charge, the protection of whistleblowers, respect for the professionalism of state employees, clear and reasonable regulatory systems, and a Governor who works collaboratively with the Legislature to enact policies in the interest of all Vermonters.