Shumlin in Rutland: City is unfair’ symbol of drug problem
By Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer | February 04,2014
Anthony Edwards / Staff Photo
Gov. Peter Shumlin speaks to a large crowd during the Legislative Breakfast held at the Franklin Conference Center in Rutland on Monday morning.
Gov. Peter Shumlin said Monday that Vermont should not worry too much about attracting young people.
The remarks, made before a packed room at the Franklin Conference Center during the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce’s first Legislative Breakfast of the year, came in response to a question on the importance of bringing in young people and how the state can attract more. Shumlin opened by saying he wanted to reframe the discussion of Vermont’s aging population.
“We’re lucky to have mature, educated Vermonters who want to live here,” he said. “It doesn’t mean we have a terrible, bleak future.”
Shumlin said his kids and most Vermont young people want to live in Vermont, even if they may leave for a while first. The obstacle, he said, was decent pay. He said he never hears CEOs asking where to find young people because they know good pay will bring young people to them.
Vermont’s main asset for attracting good-paying jobs, he said, was its quality of life, especially its public schools. While he said tax incentives have a role, he downplayed the use of programs heavy on tax breaks such as the ones in neighboring New York.
“You have to live in New York state,” he said. “Why would you want to do that when you can live in Vermont? ... Young people love Vermont. I bet you there are more people in this room who came here and decided to stay. Young people are going to continue to do that.”
Shumlin acknowledged that he was starting the budget process with a revenue shortfall for the fourth year in a row. However, he said, revenue is improving and the economy is recovering, but the effects are not being seen so much in the budget because Vermont is weaning itself off stimulus funds. He praised Vermont’s Congressional delegation for getting the state a “disproportionate share” of stimulus money.
Locally, Shumlin said the turnaround in Rutland has been “extraordinary” and he believes the Western Rail Corridor, which, he said, is progressing faster than previously expected, would make a “huge difference.”
Shumlin said Rutland has taken an “unfair hit” in becoming a symbol for drug problems in the state.
“Because you’ve got a mayor, a police chief and community who were willing to talk about a crisis before the rest of the state, you’ve got the headlines,” he said. “There is no area of Vermont and no area of New England and no area of America that does not have an opiate addiction problem.”