Bruce Lisman, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, joined Vermont Edition for a one-on-one discussion. This interview is part of VPR's "Meet the Candidates" series, where we address a range of topics, but also want each participating candidate’s thoughts on four specific issues: gun control, taxes, marijuana legalization and health care.
Questions on these four topics were posed to Lisman by host Bob Kinzel during the Vermont Edition interview on June 24. Below are the audio clips from the sections of Lisman's interview that addressed these particular topics, as well as an excerpt quote from Lisman's response. (You can find the full interview with Bruce Lisman here.)
"I happen to believe the Second Amendment is important, and too important to chip away at. I believe Article 16 of our own constitution, [and the] Sportsmen's Bill of Rights are also important. And so I differ with [the Democratic gubernatorial candidates' positions on gun control] and believe that our laws are sufficient and we should look elsewhere for solutions."
"On the matter of taxes, I have none that I would raise, but I do have some that I would think about and recommend that we reduce. So I said in April, after listening to retired veterans, that we are one of seven or so states that still tax retirement benefits for those vets who retire here. There are 45,000 or so veterans, there are under 4,000 of them that have retired here ... I'd eliminate that. It’s roughly $5 million, likely less than $5 million. I think the Legislature would feel good with a round of applause they receive not from raising taxes, but from lowering those taxes. And I think frankly it's in sum small enough that we can find a home for it.
"On a related basis, at the very same time, I said we're down to one of the last nine states that still taxes Social Security benefits and the second oldest state in the country. We need to consider, over some period of time, how to reduce the burden. It's a big hunk of our budget. It's a lot of revenue dollars ... but the truth is that in this kind of state, people living on fixed income, often Social Security is not a lot of money for some people, but it is [a] significant amount of money for everyone. I think we need to consider it."
"I say, 'No, not now.' And I've been pretty consistent about it. I think the state's expectations for revenue is overstated. They understated the cost to develop a regulatory framework. I think there are real issues with on-the-road driving and testing for it ... This would become a destination. We’re not always going to be happy with who’s here. And Colorado’s had an experience that says it hasn’t been ideal, and so my suggestion is, let's wait.
"Now, I favor the decriminalization. It seemed easy. I believe it has medicinal value. I should tell you my late wife used it in her last year of life and she found it helpful, and I believe it did help her. And so if it serves a medicinal purpose, I think we should encourage it, but I'm against the commercialization of it ...
"It's not clear to me that we understand well enough what's happening in the other states that have legalized it or the process by which they’ve gone through."
"My own view is, at this stage, it's easier to go to the Federal Exchange than continuing what I think is a road to nowhere ... The trouble with Health Care Connect [Vermont Health Connect] is it affects people directly. It's really one of those bad policy ideas that got executed badly and the outcome is, it's mean to those at the other end of it. And so, it doesn't work and I've been saying for a while we should kill the mandate that would force people into it. That's not the purpose of the ACA – Affordable Care Act – and we should move off this thing into the Federal Exchange ...
"We need to audit Medicaid. The governor increased enrollment, didn't have a good plan to pay for it. We need to find out if people are ineligible. Now we know of course there's some percentage that are not, but we also need to know the nature of the people in Medicaid. Are they healthier for being in it? Do they have equal access to what they had before? Equal access to you, who might not be in Medicaid? Is their health better for being in the plan? ... These are high-cost programs for a state, and so we need to know what benefits people are actually using. It's possible that we offer benefits at a cost that aren't well used. And finally, as other states have discovered, we need to understand better our own administrative process, so that we can decide upon looking at it whether it's the most efficient way to deliver services."
Click each audio file to hear the candidate's full comments on these four topics. Listen to the entire interview on these and many other topics here.