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Rutland officials outline priorities at the first legislative breakfast of the year

RUTLAND-Representatives of Rutland Economic Development Corp. and the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce outlined their legislative priorities at the first legislative breakfast of the year, Monday, Feb. 13.

Transportation was highlighted as a top priority and discussion about air and rail improvements followed.

Tom Donahue, the executive vice president of the Chamber, said improvements to the airport would help increase traffic to Rutland and plans for a passenger train connecting Rutland to Burlington and still in the works.

"Anything you can do for passenger rail benefits freight and vice versa," he said. "We'll get there. I don't think there's a person, House representative or senator, in this room who isn't behind transportation in all modes for this area."

Central Vermont Public Service Corp. (CVPS) also presented a $50,000 check to Rutland Economic Development Corp. (REDC) - the first half of $100,000 pledged the "green jobs fund." This agreement was part of the merger between CVPS and Green Mountain Power.

Act 250, the state's land use and development law, was also discussed at length as some would like to see the process changed to make it faster and easier for everyone. It was suggested that applicants should have the option of doing hearings "on the record" so that appeals are a review of the record rather than new hearings. On-the-record hearings, however, are more expensive and, therefore, make the most sense for large projects where controversy is expected.

The rising cost of health care, a common concern for the business community and state, was also discussed at length. To make improvements to the health care system and create sustainable costs, the state will need to take into account not only the price per "unit" of health care costs but also the number of units needed. It was suggested that any single-payer system must reimburse at a higher rate than Medicare or the health care system will collapse.

Tagged: rutland, REDC, RRCC, Rutland Chamber, Rutland Economic Development Corp, legislative breakfast, CVPS, Act 250