Throughout my career as a small-business owner and public servant, I’ve had the honor of meeting with thousands of Vermonters. I listen carefully to the challenges they face and their ideas for making Vermont stronger and more affordable for all of us. This approach – listening, learning and leading – is how I will restore our focus on the fundamentals of a strong economy, get real and lasting results and rebuild Vermonters’ faith in government.

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 10.25.37 PMAs the only candidate for governor who knows what it’s like to live paycheck-to-paycheck while raising a family and growing a small business here, I understand the challenges we face and know how serious this election is to you and to our state. There is nothing more important to our future than making economic growth and affordability Montpelier’s top priorities – and that is why I am running for governor.

As we kick off the General Election campaign, here are some important things you need to know about me:

As a matter of principle, I believe in personal liberty and responsibility; a government that is by your side, not on your back; and a fair and free market economy. I believe in upholding public safety and the rule of law; protecting the environment; and giving our children the best educational opportunities we can offer. And I believe in treating everyone with dignity; respecting all points of view; and honoring the moral obligation we have to care for the vulnerable.

These are the things I stand for – my core principles – and the values I will bring to the very challenging job of serving as Vermont’s next governor. And despite what you will hear from the other party, I am also a pro-choice Republican, I voted for marriage equality and I believe everyone is entitled to equal pay based on equal experience, performance and work.

Here are the real issues in this campaign: State spending and the costs of living are growing too quickly, and our economy is growing too slowly. Over six years of one-party rule, growth in the state budget and taxes have outpaced growth in wages.

A shrinking workforce makes the problem worse. We’ve lost nearly 2,500 workers per year since 2010. As the number of workers decreases, the tax burden on those who remain increases. This crisis of affordability is further compounded by public policy that adds to the costs of living here.

Here’s the bottom line: The foundation we rely on to provide job opportunities and an affordable, but still quality life for our families is eroding. I am running for governor to stop that erosion and rebuild our economic foundation.

There are common-sense steps we can take immediately. For example, we must have truth in budgeting and real fiscal responsibility. That is why, to help you keep more of what you earn, I will only propose – or sign – state budgets that grow less than wages and the economy in the previous year.

I am the only candidate in this race who will make that commitment to you.

I will propose shifting to a 24-month budget cycle to impose more discipline and planning on state spending. And, I will focus on making state government more efficient by modernizing our outdated IT systems. In fact, I believe we can reduce the operational cost of every agency and department by one cent for every dollar currently spent, in my first year in office. Saving one penny on the dollar generates about $55 million in savings. And I will soon launch the most comprehensive economic growth plan of any of the candidates for governor.

Making Vermont more affordable, growing the economy and keeping and creating jobs must be the top priorities of our next governor. A healthier economy — energized by a stable cost of living, a declining tax burden and a steady hand at the helm of state government — is the best way to invest in our future.