Under New Law State of Vermont Will Buy and Hire Local – Finally
We talk a lot about buying local and supporting Vermont businesses and most of us do our best. So, I’m glad legislation I introduced will finally have the State of Vermont start doing the same, putting our tax dollars to work for Vermont. The new law begins a pilot project which will have the State start using what is called an econometric computer model to make certain buying and contracting decisions. It will start with the Department of Buildings and General Services, the Agency of Natural Resources and the Department of Corrections.
The computer model evaluates competing bids to find which is in the “best interest” of the State. Of course, the best interest means the one that creates the most Vermont jobs, income and tax revenue. Which means the winners will be Vermonters or firms that hire Vermonters.
Originally I proposed the State simply give preference to Vermont businesses. Especially those who paid good wages and benefits, hired women and supported apprenticeship programs. But that didn’t fly. Opponents claimed showing preference for Vermont businesses would violate the law and make other states refuse to do business with Vermonters. Frankly, many of us did not buy the argument but the majority did, even though other states already have local preference laws.
This led to the econometric model. Since, acting in the “best interest” of the state is ok; letting the econometric model help make the choice avoids the other hurdles and will put more money into the pockets of Vermont businesses.
You might wonder why this is necessary. As it is, the State claims to be buying local food when the product arrives on a local truck, regardless of where it is grown or raised and the State contracts with consultants from Connecticut to California to do things like wildlife and water research that Vermonters could do. And, some professionals service providers, like engineers, testified they were so discouraged with work going to out of state firms that they stopped submitting bids altogether. Clearly, we can do better than that.
Once this pilot project is expanded, the State of Vermont will finally do what it always encourages the rest of us to do…buy local and support Vermont businesses.