SHELBURNE On Aug. 8, Gov. Jim Douglas addressed members of the Charlotte/Shelburne Rotary Club at their regular weekly meeting, held behind the Trinity Episcopal Church in Shelburne.
Douglas spoke about a variety of matters, but his speech focused on the cost of living in Vermont and what he is trying to do to make living and working in the state a more viable option for young and old alike.
Family income is rising and poverty is down, said Douglas. Still, the cost of living is rising faster than family income.
Gas prices are up, property taxes are high and college tuition is increasing rapidly, and these factors are making Vermont a less attractive place to work and live for newly graduated college students, Douglas said.
Someone came up to me quite recently and said, stuff just costs too much, he added. A student told me, it was so expensive to go to college, I have to go somewhere where I can make enough to pay my loans off.
Rotary Club member Mal Parker asked the governor what could be done to attract a younger work force as well as encourage youth to come back to Vermont after finishing their education.
Vermont is ranked 49 out of 50 in median age, said Parker. Which reflects that younger people arent staying here.
In response, Douglas noted that Parkers figure translates to Vermont being the second oldest state in the country, behind Maine. He also said that Vermont had the lowest live birth rate in America, which he attributed to Vermont having the highest percentage of women with college degrees in the country. While the latter fact is a positive point, the reality that less people are starting families in Vermont is alarming, as the younger population continues to seek employment elsewhere, he said.