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With a major turnover in political leadership in Montpelier this January, the new administration and Legislature should zero in on three fundamental initiatives to move the state forward:

• Ensure that work pays and all Vermont families can meet their basic needs.

• Make smart, evidence-based investments in programs and infrastructure.

• Restore public confidence in state government by improving and promoting good governance, including efficacy, fairness, and transparency.

Those are the recommendations contained in A Framework for Progress: Investing in Vermont’s people, infrastructure, and good government.

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After years of stagnant or falling incomes, Vermonters across the board enjoyed income gains in 2015, according to new U.S. Census data released last week. Median household income rose 5.1 percent last year.

But low-income households made even more progress, with average income for the bottom 20 percent of households rising 8.5 percent. While the news was good, this was just one year of data, and median household income in 2015 remained slightly lower than it was in 2007, before the Great Recession.

Household income went up and poverty went down in Vermont in 2015, mirroring the improvements at the national level that the U.S. Census reported on Tuesday.

The new American Community Survey data from the Census show median household income in Vermont was $56,990 last year. After adjusting for inflation, that represented an increase of nearly $2,800, or 5.1 percent. Vermont’s median household income in 2015 was about $1,200 higher than the national median household income, but the percentage increase was the same.

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