A Google Governor for Vermont?

To promote energy independence and to fight climate change, Dunne wants to make Vermont the first state to guarantee its residents the right to know what their energy use is in real-time so that they can "use their frugal, cheap, Yankee ways to shave megawatts off the grid."

"There are a lot of lessons from Google. One of the big ones is that information is power," said Dunne.

Once smart meters are in place in every home, Dunne thinks it will open the door to the first electric car grid in the nation.

"A true electric car grid would want to be able to have a vehicle powered at the time when power is least expensive. So you need to have some kind of smart meter interface to be able to know when that happens," said Dunne. "This allows the true market to work."

To promote new economy jobs, Dunne wants Vermont to guarantee broadband Internet access and cell-phone coverage for every home, including those in rural parts of the state. He would seek to accomplish this by (1) adjusting regulations so that companies can string fiber optics along the lower-half of utility poles and (2) by putting "some real dollars on the table" to enhance the state's existing broadband authority.

"This is the equivalent of electricity. It's the tools to be successful no matter where you are," said Dunne.

Reimburse for Health Care Outcomes, Not Procedures

Dunne thinks the current efforts taking place in Washington to overhaul the nation's health care system do not go far enough. He is hoping, however, that the final legislation will allow for state experimentation.

To lower health care costs, Dunne wants Vermont to self-insure all of the state's residents the way big companies do.

The goal for Dunne is not to get the government involved in administering insurance. In fact, he would bid out the administrative task to a non-governmental entity. The goal for Dunne, who used to work at Dartmouth's Rockefeller Center for Public Policy, is to change the way health care providers are reimbursed.

Drawing on research conducted at Dartmouth, Dunne thinks that health-care providers should be reimbursed for medical outcomes rather than for the number of services they can squeeze into a 10-minute increment.

"What's clear is that with the entrenched interests in Washington it is going to be very difficult to get comprehensive health care reform that really bends the cost curve," said Dunne. "I think we will end up doing some good things for people, like finally getting mental health parity. But that's not going to change the cost curve the way that actually changing the way that we do reimbursement will."

Student Debt Forgiveness -- But How to Pay For It?

To encourage young people to perform two years of national service and to help them afford the cost of higher education, Dunne is proposing a new debt forgiveness program.

"Vermont has the unfortunate notoriety of having the highest debt load for students," said Dunne. "We have the opportunity to actually turn that on its head and say that every Vermonter who attends the University of Vermont or one of our state colleges, and commits to two years of national service can graduate debt free."

"The freedom that that would give is tremendous," he added. "They would have the opportunity to pursue new entrepreneurial dreams, new social innovation, or even get involved in the political process."

But when asked how he'd pay for the debt forgiveness, Dunne did not cite a specific revenue stream.

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