Jan Demers to receive the 2019 Con Hogan Award

Posted by Paul Cillo on September 23, 2019 at 6:05 pm | Comments Off on Jan Demers to receive the 2019 Con Hogan Award

The Vermont Community Foundation and the organizing committee for the Con Hogan Award for Creative, Entrepreneurial Community Leadership announced today that Jan Demers will be honored with this year’s award. Demers is the Executive Director of Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO), serving Addison, Chittenden, Franklin, and Grand Isle counties.

The $15,000 award, to be used however the recipient chooses, will be presented at a public reception on Wednesday, October 2 from 4:30 to 6:30 PM at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier.

Established by a group of Con’s colleagues in 2015, the annual award recognizes his life work by rewarding each year a community leader who shares his vision of a better Vermont and who seizes the responsibility for making that vision a reality. The award is given to a leader who shows deep community involvement, generosity, enthusiasm, a collaborative approach, and a focus on data and measurable outcomes in his or her work.

Vermont’s friendlier for workers than many other states

Posted by Jack Hoffman on September 12, 2019 at 9:47 am | Comments Off on Vermont’s friendlier for workers than many other states

Vermont dropped a few notches from the previous year, but it still ranked as the 8th best state in 2019 when it comes to pay and legal protections for workers. The ranking was done by Oxfam America in its report: “Best and Worst States to Work in America.”

In 2018, the first year Oxfam published its Best States to Work Index (BSWI), Vermont was ranked 5th. However, Vermont and Maine switched places on the index this year, in large part because Maine now has a higher minimum wage ($11.00 an hour) than Vermont ($10.78).

The Oxfam report looks at three areas that affect the well-being of workers: ...

Supporting the labor of early childhood professionals

Posted by Julie Lowell on August 30, 2019 at 1:59 pm | Comments Off on Supporting the labor of early childhood professionals

Monday is the 125th Labor Day, a national holiday to celebrate the contributions of workers to our community. Arguably few contribute more to growth and development across the country than early childhood workers, primarily women.

Early childhood professionals are in positions to shape the values we want for our children and community: how to share and take turns, how to be safe with one another, and how to be kind. They can support parents through the complexities of raising a child and educate them on how to navigate children’s developmental changes. And we want them to keep our children safe and healthy.

The case gets stronger for $15 an hour

Posted by Jack Hoffman on July 24, 2019 at 10:27 am | Comments Off on The case gets stronger for $15 an hour

There may be a silver lining to the Legislature’s failure last session to reach agreement on raising Vermont’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. New research published in recent months highlights the benefits of a higher minimum wage, questions the putative negative effects, and strengthens the case for Vermont to act sooner rather than later.

A recent story in the Washington Post summarized much of the new research. It cites a new study in the Quarterly Journal of Economics that challenges the conventional wisdom that going to $15 an hour will hurt the people it is designed to help by destroying low-wage jobs. That study was complemented by researchers at Berkeley, who looked at low-wage areas within states and also found no adverse effects on employment.

It’s summertime and livin’ with child care is a little easier

Posted by Julie Lowell on July 18, 2019 at 11:29 am | Comments Off on It’s summertime and livin’ with child care is a little easier

For all the fun of summer vacation—creemees, camping, swimming, and sun—it brings a host of challenges for Vermont families. With the end of the school year, working parents scramble to find and pay for childcare. And for families with children who aren’t yet school-age, it’s a year-round struggle.

But an increase in the Child Care Financial Assistance Program (CCFAP) funding this summer will alleviate some of this financial stress. On July 21st the state will boost child care subsidies, providing more financial assistance for low-income families.

This increase is long overdue. From 2010 to 2017, the average cost of care grew 35 percent for pre-school age children, while state reimbursement rates grew just 3 percent and have not changed since 2014.

Family leave and minimum wage: Connecticut did it, why can’t Vermont?

Posted by Julie Lowell on June 25, 2019 at 3:10 pm | Comments Off on Family leave and minimum wage: Connecticut did it, why can’t Vermont?

Connecticut was able to do what Vermont couldn’t this past legislative session: raise the minimum wage to $15 and create a paid family and medical leave insurance program. Our New England neighbor could provide some guidance for the Vermont Legislature when it reconvenes in January.

Connecticut’s current minimum wage of $10.10 will be raised to $15 an hour by 2023, a full year sooner than any of the legislation Vermont has been considering.

Their paid family and medical leave bill allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave annually, covering 95 percent of wages for people earning minimum wage.

Protect Vermonters in poverty

Posted by Julie Lowell on June 20, 2019 at 2:49 pm | Comments Off on Protect Vermonters in poverty

Thousands of Vermonters are in danger of losing critical public benefits if proposed changes to national poverty thresholds are approved. The federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is exploring the impacts of using a lower inflation rate when updating the Official Poverty Measure (OPM), used by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to create poverty guidelines that regulate the receipt of many public benefits.

They are accepting comment on the proposal until 11:59 PM on Friday, June 21, 2019. Public Assets filed comments earlier this week.


Posted by Jack Hoffman on June 13, 2019 at 3:48 pm | Comments Off on Well-being

New Zealand recently unveiled what’s being described as the world’s first “well-being budget,” designed to improve the lives and living standards of all of its citizens. Maybe Vermont can claim credit for being the inspiration. While, unlike Vermont, New Zealand is fully integrating its wellbeing goals into the budgeting process and committing real money to its new priorities, there are echoes of a statute Vermont passed in 2012 in New Zealand’s well-being budget.

Family and medical leave needs to work for families

Posted by Julie Lowell on May 17, 2019 at 2:37 pm | Comments Off on Family and medical leave needs to work for families

A family and medical leave program should make juggling work and caregiving easier for families.

The House bill (H.107) passed in early April would do that through wage-replacement and job protection for employees who are out of work due to a new baby, or for unexpected personal or family medical needs. But the Senate version cuts back these benefits to workers and their families. Focused on decreasing the program cost, the Senate plan undermines the bill’s intent: supporting families.

Ed Fund needs independent guidance

Posted by Jack Hoffman on May 14, 2019 at 3:39 pm | * Comments (1)

The Education Fund, for the most part, has stayed out of the headlines this year, perhaps because Gov. Phil Scott hasn’t offered the kind of end-of-session surprises we saw in his first two years. But we should be paying close attention even if the Education Fund isn’t in the spotlight. Important decisions are at hand that affect the stability of the fund.

The Education Fund budget approved by the House earlier this year relied on reserves and other one-time sources of revenue to artificially hold down property tax rates. In the House version, Education Fund spending was projected to increase by about $70 million, and nearly half of that additional money would have come from sources the Legislature couldn’t count on in subsequent years. It was another case of confronting today’s problem by pushing it off into next year.