Successes and disappointments in Douglas’ first year

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(Host) Governor Jim Douglas says he’s pleased by the progress his administration has made on a number of issues during his first year in office. But the governor says he’s disappointed that some parts of agenda have not been enacted.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) Douglas reflected on his first 12 months as governor in a recent interview at his office in Montpelier. Surrounded by pictures taken at key events during the past year, Douglas said there were certainly highlights and disappointments since he became governor in January of 2003.

Douglas pointed to a number of legislative accomplishments – including a reform of Act 60, a balanced budget, a major change to the state’s Medicaid program and efforts to combat heroin use in Vermont. The top priority for the governor was the passage of a new jobs bill last winter:

(Douglas) “I guess it’s clear to me that it takes awhile to accomplish great goals and I have to be patient in working through all of the major objectives that I outlined in my inaugural message, and the priorities I’ve talked about during this past year. My major goal is to create more jobs for Vermonters. So I realize that it takes time to accomplish broad and sweeping goals such as the ones that I’ve outlined, but I feel very good about the progress of the first year.”

(Kinzel) The biggest disappointment for Douglas was a failure to reach a compromise with Senate Democrats over permit reform. The governor says a new Senate proposal is promising and may provide the foundation for an agreement during the upcoming session:

(Douglas) “I suppose that the most frustrating experience of the past year has been the failure of the General Assembly to approve a comprehensive permit reform measure. But it’s a biennial session and I’m optimistic that we’ll have a bipartisan approach to the issue before final adjournment.”

(Kinzel) Douglas will outline his priorities for the 2004 legislative session in his State of the State address. The governor will deliver this speech on the first day of the new session.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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