Candidate: Ron Horton
Senate District: Essex-Orleans (All towns in Essex and Orleans counties)
What should be legislative priorities in the next session?
Covid has destroyed so many lives; so many businesses. Now, more than any other time, we must make sure we are taking care of the most vulnerable. Taxes must not go up in 2021. Seniors need their tax burden rolled back two years and frozen at that level for the rest of their lives. Social Security and Veteran’s benefits must never be taxed.
The cost of Healthcare needs to be attacked head on. Insurance companies, healthcare providers, and pharmaceutical companies need to have the facts of life given to them. Either they start taking cost reduction seriously or we will start taking sanctions seriously.
And we need to employ the programs I have on my website, RonHorton.info, in order to develop Rural Vermont.
What would you say are the top three priorities of the people you represent?
First would be the cost of living. We must bring this under control. Taxes are too high and income is too low. I have solid programs that will reverse this. Second would be Healthcare. It’s time to hold insurance companies, healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies accountable. Third would be Healing the divide. We have seen families, friends, and relationships ripped apart by the political catastrophe we got ourselves into in 2016. This is not a sustainable situation.
Define “effective legislator.”
First to be effective you need to show up. It’s hard to believe the excuses I’ve heard from current legislators as to why they didn’t vote on bills, or why they missed deadlines for getting their name on a ballot. There are legislators who will say anything to get votes, and have no problem with leaving their ethics at the door.
To be effective you need to have time enough to put all your effort into creating a Vermont that is affordable for everyone. You must not be overburdened by your own businesses or personal issues as to take time away from your work as a legislator. If you’re not there you can’t be effective.
Where do you feel you differ from the other contenders in your district that makes you the candidate worthy of election?
I’m not the same ol’ same ol’. My ideas are fresh and forward reaching. One of my opponents has spent years putting bills forward that benefit his own circle first. His ideas benefit small groups and not the majority of rural Vermonters.
I’ve spent my life fighting for the underdogs. I’ve put my job on the line many times, and I won’t be afraid to do that in the Senate. I’m also one who will not skip out on unpopular votes that might hurt my re-election efforts.
You won’t hear empty promises from me. The one promise you will hear is that I will put my heart and soul into getting my plans implemented so that Rural Vermont can start digging its’ way out of this giant hole we are in.
Does the state budget need cutting or an influx of additional revenue?
I’ve spent years helping people out of financial difficulties. For nine years I taught the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University courses on the West Coast. One thing about finances is that you can be sure if you’re in a hole, that you didn’t get there overnight, and you won’t get out overnight either.
In order to work through this mess we are in we need to freeze taxes, promote rural Vermont as a place new clean industry would be well advised to relocate to, and develop a transportation and broadband system that would make all of this possible.
We can create millions of dollars with my plan. And when we show the Federal government our efforts, we will be in a much better place to receive Federal aid and grants.
If cuts are needed, where are the areas to consider? If more revenue is needed, what would you spend it on and what tax or fee increases should be considered to pay for it?
“Cuts” is not the word I’d use. The way we spend our money needs to be completely reviewed and renewed. When you continue to do the same thing over and over again, while expecting different results, you’ve just defined insanity.
Let’s get real about looking into where we are spending our money and on where we can save. That’s a hard job, but worthwhile.
We need more revenue. My plan for transportation to bring in new business, that will in turn bring in more tax money, and more families… who will help share in the tax requirements, will make tax increases unnecessary. We can also fill the hole in Newport, with a multi-use facility that will offer jobs to locals, bring in tourists, and start the revitalization of the town, without using any taxpayer money.
What do you think of education funding in Vermont?
One of my plans, based on my 30-year career in the Aviation Industry, will bring in millions of dollars, and thousands of jobs, and put all the profits toward the education system. It will also allow for, at least, a 50% cut in property taxes.
Our teachers and schools all need more money. Colleges need to be counseled as to how they can actually make more money by charging less. We can’t afford to lose one more school.
Do you support an increase in state funds to the Vermont State College System to aid struggling institutions like NVU-Lyndon? How much?
We can’t afford to let them go belly up, but I don’t think pouring vast amounts of money into supporting an inefficient system is the answer. I believe the colleges can do a better job of managing, and gaining, funds on their own. I’d put major efforts in developing the best committees to research ideas that will turn this problem around.
One idea is to bring tuition down, and make it the same for in or out of state students. I’d much rather sell 10 widgets for one dollar, than to sell 1 widget at one hundred dollars. We would bring many more students into our system, something that would, not only help the colleges, but would greatly help our small businesses and communities.
Is there racial injustice in Vermont and, if yes, what do you propose the legislature does to address it?
As a kid who grew up in the racist South Florida area during the 50s and 60s, I assure you there is racial injustice in Vermont, and it’s getting worse every day that we have trump in the White House.
Until we can show the naysayers what it is like to walk a mile is someone else’s shoes we won’t be able to fix the problem.
Although I haven’t fully developed this idea yet, I believe education is the key. Everyone in political power; Everyone who holds upper management positions in larger corporations; And anyone who is convicted of a crime and shows racial tendencies, should be required to take a six-week course similar to a DUI course. This course would be designed and led by organizers of minority groups. The theme would be to show what it’s like being of that persuasion. A course like this could also be developed as an ongoing training for all of our students.
What does success from the Global Warming Solutions Act look like in Vermont? What, if any, problems could result from the GWSA?
Although I don’t have that text in front of me, I’m certain that if we don’t address global warming with every ounce of our strength, we won’t have the strength to carry on much longer. Science is right; trump is wrong. We must act now, not in two months, or two years. We need to become independent of fossil fuels. We must develop alternative energy sources, which will bring new jobs to Vermont. We need to stop letting companies dump their waste products into our lakes and streams. We need to filter our air. We need to collect and reuse methane. So much can be done. So much must be done.
What, if any, additional firearms laws do you think are necessary in Vermont?
This is usually the first subject to be brought up by angry people who let the NRA rule their lives. The proposal I have on my website was lauded by a very conservative gun owner as the most common-sense proposal he had ever seen.
As a gun owner myself, I’m not coming for your guns, but I’ll be damned if I will stand by and let some organization that stands to gain billions of dollars with their lobbying make our world a less safe place.
I would bring both sides together for some very serious discussions about what is necessary and what may not be necessary. One thing that I don’t think would interfere with anyone, is the two-day waiting period. I’ve not heard a good argument for why not have this in place. Why would anyone need a gun today, right at this moment, unless there might be some wrong reason?
What are the strengths in the state’s economy? What are the weaknesses?
At this point, not being involved in the financial discussions at the state level, I’m not the expert who can give an accurate assessment of this. My guess would be that we are hurting immensely by Covid expenses. That would be one weakness, and Federal money is going to be needed to help fix that.
Our tourist industry still has a good name. That would be one of the strengths, albeit it’s on a bit of a hiatus right now.
The good news is that we are in a great position to start the rebuilding process. Being one of the safest, if not the safest, state in the Covid-19 country right now, we are going to come back quicker than any of the other 49 state.
What can state government do to address the weaknesses?
We can start by voting me, and others who have forward thinking ideas, into office. Until we get rid of those who like to say, “we’ve always done it that way,” or, “that will never work,” we will be stuck in the proverbial mud.
Concerning the state’s plan to increase the minimum wage to $12.55 in January 2022, is the increase too much or too little?
It’s a step in the right direction, but we need to get to $15.00 ASAP. I’d say a three-year plan to get there is reasonable at this point in time.
What is your position on the state’s marijuana legalization efforts?
Legalized marijuana is a downhill train that we couldn’t stop if we wanted to. I’ve had many friends helped by pot. I’m probably the only jazz musician who has never tried it, but I’m not against it. I just want to make sure that when that train gets to the curve that it’s under control. We don’t want it coming off the rails. Let’s make sure we do our research and learn from other states that have come before us.
In recent years the state has been trying to address a substantial unfunded liability in state employee retirement obligations, but the liability remains high and the number of retirees grows. What should be done?
I don’t know how any retirement fund can be sustainable if it’s not funded. The oldest rule in the books is, “Don’t touch your capital.” There has to be a plan put in place to get funds into a high yield growth fund, from which the interest can eventually be tapped to start making payouts more long term.
In the meantime, we need to make sure every employee is taking advantage of their personal retirement plans like 401Ks.
What, if any, criminal justice and/or corrections department reforms do you advocate?
Prisons must never become privately run. And we need to start looking at ways to turn jail time into productive time in the community. We can’t turn criminals into slave laborers, but we can train them in trades, or educate them in other ways, that will stop the revolving door system we currently have.
We also need to make sure that everyone gets the same deal if they do the same crime. Enough of this being able to buy your way out because you can, vs, the poor kid from the ghetto who is just completely lost and makes a bad decision, and ends up with a 20-year sentence.
More About Ron
I’ve lived in Vermont 20+ years, on two different occasions. After retiring from Delta Air Lines, at age 50, I spent 15 more years on the west coast before getting the chance to return. I live in Jay, with my wife, dog and cat. Sadly, we lost our 21-year-old college daughter this March, as a direct result of the ineptness of the handling of Covid-19.
I’m an Air Force Veteran, 1966-1970. In college I was an Aviation Major, and earned my Commercial Pilots license during that time. I spent almost 30 years in the aviation industry. I’m a professional musician (saxophone) and have instructed hundreds of kids in the art of playing the sax.
After retirement I took on many fun, hobby jobs, including: Lifeguard; Radio Board Op; Aflac salesman; Car Sales… that I wrote a book about; Greenskeeper; Umpire; and Financial adviser. I’m an aerobatic pilot and have owned two planes. I like snowmobiling; sailing; my motorcycle; tennis; golf; and living on 10 acres, surrounded by many other acres we get to use.
My daughter was a Make-A-Wish kid. Her wish was to meet President Obama, which we did as a family. We were hosted by this great man in the Oval Office. She became a Make-A-Wish Vermont Ambassador.