Republican Michael Morgan, a near life-long Milton resident and retired colonel from the Air National Guard, is vying to represent Grand Isle-Chittenden in the Vermont House of Representatives.
Morgan is a member of the Milton selectboard, on which he's served since 2019. He previously served on the board from 1989 to 1998.
He is running for the House in the hope of bringing more Republican representation to the Vermont legislature.
"We have a super majority down there, that essentially can run at will, with what I personally think are no checks and balances," he said. "I want to get some balance back in Montpelier. That's a major, major reason I'm running."
Earlier this week, Morgan spoke with the Independent over the phone. His responses have been edited for length. See italicized Editor’s Notes for more context and links for fact-checks.
The legislature this session took some steps to address concerns about use of excessive force by police and the inequities in how often people of color are subjected to motor vehicle stops and criminal charges. Do you think those actions were sufficient or is there more to be done?
I am a law and order person. I don't like lawlessness; I don't like out-of-control protesting.
I graduated from the Air Force Academy and afterwards, I sat on the Diversity Action Panel for almost a decade there. I was a proponent of racial, ethnic diversity in that capacity when I was on that board.
I believe in fairness and equity, but I don't believe in getting there in a lawless fashion. I think we can work together to improve things. In Milton, we're handling those issues by creating a Police Advisory Committee.
We can constantly seek to do better, and we should, but I will never do it at the expense of dropping our guard on how we police in out town.
What should legislators do to address the impact of COVID-19 on low-income Vermonters?
I think there are a number of things that could be done, but I would need to get in and take a very extensive look at the budget and talk with various agency heads.
There's been a lot of frivolous spending in the last 25 years in this state, and it might be high time we take a look at. When I worked in the military, we were constantly asked to do more with less.
The way we take care of those folks should come from existing budgetary money rather than levying new taxes on the rest of Vermont. Not just low-income Vermonters, but middle-income Vermonters are suffering in too, and I don't believe it would be fair at this time to ask them for even more when they are hurting as well.
Economists are expecting Vermont to face shortfalls when it is time to prepare the fiscal year 2022 budget, especially the Education Fund. How should the state address that loss?
I'm 59-years-old, and I've been paying federal, state and local taxes for a lot of years. I put two children through the school system so they have certainly been benefactors. I was a benefactor of the public school system in Milton myself.
But here's what Mike Morgan thinks: Mike Morgan thinks the current education funding system is not working.
Act 46, along with other bills that were put in place to fund the school budgets, is not working and its becoming an uncontrollable spending giant.
I'm maybe a little old-school in that I'm a big fan of possibly giving local control back to schools so they have the ability to run within the means of their checkbook.
Editor’s note: Act 46, which was signed into law in 2015, encouraged Vermont school districts to merge or realign in order to save money and achieve education policy goals.
Scientists largely agree action is needed to delay the worst impacts of climate change. What actions, if any, do you feel the legislature should be taking to reduce Vermont’s share of carbon emissions and ready the state for the effects of a changing climate?
What Vermont emits for carbon is more than taken care of by the local environment we have, because we're a very green state, literally. Vermont can handle it and kind of cleanse itself. We're not the problem.
Editor's Note: According to a 2019 study by Stanford University, it is true that trees absorb about a quarter of all human-caused carbon dioxide emissions. But small abatement of emissions relies on steady and increased forest coverage. According to a 2017 study by the University of Vermont and Harvard University, Vermont is losing 1,500 acres of forest every year.
I would not have voted for the Global Warming Solutions Act. I think in the end it could cost the average Vermonter, and we already have a retention problem. My two children don't live in the state for economic reasons.
I think it potentially could cause Vermonters to spend a lot of money to heat their homes, drive to and from work, mow their lawns, cook on their grills.
Editor's Note: The GWSA does not introduce or enact a carbon tax. "The council shall...identify which strategies and programs will result in the largest greenhouse gas emissions reductions in the most cost-effective manner," the bill states.
We say we're going to become more reliant on electric vehicles, but how does that create more jobs? I don't see it. Would I be a fan if they said 'hey, it's going to create 1,000 more jobs?' Sure, of course.