Scott Milne, by his own account, likes to keep things "boring." But political insiders have been wondering just how boring the Republican candidate can afford to be; Gov. Peter Shumlin has already put out four television ads and as of Oct. 15, Milne's only ad buys were on Facebook.

Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott is running for his third term as Vermont’s second in command and as the highest-ranking Republican in the state.

He shares his thoughts on single-payer health care, school funding, renewable energy, job creation and stimulating the Vermont economy. And we’ll get his reaction to the IBM sale of the Essex plant.

Post your questions or comments for Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott here or email them to vermontedition@vpr.net.

"It's been a long summer," says Frank Cioffi of the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation, referring the long-awaited announcement that IBM is offloading its microchip manufacturing division, which includes the IBM plant in Essex Junction, to GlobalFoundries. We look at why IBM is paying Global Foundries $1.5 billion over three years to take over that business, what it means for employees,  and the impact on the state's economy.

After over 40 years of planning, funding delays, re-planning and construction, on Oct. 31 the Morrisville Bypass will open to motor vehicles. The ribbon cutting is planned for noon on Oct. 31, followed by walking tours and, at 2 p.m., a motor vehicle parade. And although they're not allowed, there might be some rogue bike riders along the two-mile route as well.

Vermont’s unemployment rate went up last month, from 4.1 percent in August to 4.4 percent in September, according to the latest report from the Department of Labor. Over the same period, the national unemployment rate fell from 6.1 percent to 5.9 percent.

Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan attributes the increase to seasonal trends, noting that last year’s unemployment rate followed a similar pattern in late summer and early fall.

Last spring, the legislature passed a law requiring foods that contain genetically modified organisms, or GMO's, to be labeled. That labeling will go into effect in 2016 and the Attorney General's office has been working to come up with rules for what the labels will look like.

The state has just released a draft proposal of those rules and is holding informal meetings around the state this week to get public feedback.

If states were graded for their work on infrastructure, Vermont would earn a C. That’s according to a report released by the American Society of Civil Engineers that recently assessed the state’s roads, bridges, dams, landfills and waterworks.  For comparison, the nation as a whole earned a D+.

While Vermont has made progress with roads and bridges, the report indicates waste-water and drinking water infrastructure is still woefully outdated and underfunded.

The Vermont Jazz Center has been honored with a national Acclaim Award from Chamber Music America. The award recognizes arts organizations around the country for “extraordinary cultural contributions” in the regions they serve.

The award was presented Saturday at a concert at the jazz center’s performance space at the Cotton Mill, an old Brattleboro factory. Vermont Jazz Center Director Eugene Uman says the space invites creativity.

Vermont’s state employees are going to be hit with a nearly 18 percent increase in their health care premiums. The increase is taking place because more state employees than projected were treated last year for cancer and heart disease. The increase came as a shock because the VSEA plan had no increases in the past two years.  

Human Resources Commissioner Maribeth Spellman says the increase is directly related to much higher than expected use of expensive health care services.

The sale of IBM’s chip-making business looks to be good news for the approximately 4,000 Vermont workers employed at the company’s plant in Essex Junction. But the change in ownership will reignite a longstanding debate over whether Vermont is doing enough to retain and grow jobs in the state.

IBM has always been a flashpoint in Vermont politics. It’s a massive employer here, by the standards of this tiny state. And policy makers frequently stop to ask: is Vermont doing enough to keep employers like Big Blue happy?

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