(Host) Governor-elect Jim Douglas says he’ll urge the Legislature to bring back horse racing in Pownal as a way to stimulate the economy of southwestern Vermont and to bring new revenue to the state. Douglas also wants the General Assembly to support a plan to have Vermont join Powerball.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:
(Kinzel) The governor-elect made his comments at his first full news conference with the Montpelier press corps since his election last week.
Douglas says the state faces some tough economic times ahead and that it will take some time to pull Vermont out of its current economic slowdown. While Douglas opposes plans to increase taxes to offset any budget cuts, he is looking at several proposals that could provide more revenue to the state.
The first is the restoration of a race track in Pownal. Douglas says the project could be a shot in the arm for the economy of southwestern Vermont. While he supports the reopening of the race track, the Governor elect doesn’t back efforts to create a casino in Pownal – that’s a plan that lawmakers rejected a number of years ago:
(Douglas) “In the 1960s there was a statewide referendum where the people of Vermont indicated their support for pari-mutual racing and that’s an institution that once hired and employed over 1,000 people in the southwestern part of our state. Now it’s vacant, so I have no objection whatsoever to seeing that track reopen, but that’s as far I want to go.”
(Kinzel) Douglas also told reporters that he backs a plan to have Vermont join the multi-state lottery game known as Powerball. Douglas’ support for Powerball is in sharp contrast with the position of outgoing Governor Howard Dean who threatened to veto any bill that contained Powerball:
(Douglas) “It would provide an additional amount of funds to our education fund, which is very, very important as we seek to mitigate the increase of property taxes. We’ve had tremendous increases in residential property taxes over the last few years and although it would be a relatively small amount a small percentage of the education fund at least it would help somewhat.”
(Kinzel) Douglas also announced his first staff appointments. Tim Hayward, the current director of the Vermont Banking Association, will serve as chief of staff and Betsy Bishop, a business lobbyist, will serve as the deputy chief of staff.
Neil Lunderville, who was Douglas’ campaign manager, was appointed as the new Secretary of Civil and Military Affairs while Jason Gibb, who also worked on the campaign, will be the new press secretary. Douglas says he hopes to begin naming new cabinet secretaries in the weeks ahead.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.