Governor Jim Douglas has been serving the people of Vermont for more than 30 years. Elected governor in 2002, he focused on strengthening the state’s economy, making Vermont more affordable and protecting Vermont’s natural environment. Ensuring that Vermonters have access to high-quality, affordable health care was a top priority for Gov. Douglas. In 2003, Gov. Douglas launched the Blueprint for Health as the state’s vision for transforming Vermont’s health care system through a focus on chronic disease prevention and management resources.
Building on Blueprint, Gov. Douglas signed a comprehensive package of health reforms in 2006 designed to expand access to coverage, improve the quality and performance of the health care system and contain costs. The reforms encompassed more than 60 different initiatives, including new subsidized coverage options for low-income uninsured individuals; investments in health information technology; and enhancements to the Blueprint for Health. As a result of his health reform efforts, Gov. Douglas was honored by AARP as one of “10 extraordinary people who have made the world a better place through their innovative thinking, passion and perseverance,” in 2006. Vermont was ranked the Healthiest State by the United Health Foundation each of the last four years, and the state’s uninsured population shrank from 9.8 percent in 2005 to 7.6 percent in 2008.
Gov. Douglas served as the chair of the National Governors Association and the president of the Council of State Governments as well as the chairman of the New England Governors’ Conference and the Coalition of Northeastern Governors. Elected to the Vermont House of Representatives in 1972 – the same year he graduated from Middlebury College – his influence as a legislator increased quickly, becoming assistant majority leader in his second term and majority leader in his third term at the age of 25. Douglas retired from the state legislature in 1979 to become a top aide to Gov. Richard Snelling. In 1980, he was elected secretary of state, a post he held until 1993 – winning reelection five times and receiving the nomination of both parties on three occasions. He was elected president of the National Association of Secretaries of State by his colleagues in 1986.
In 1994, Douglas was elected state treasurer, receiving the nomination of both parties and winning with 94 percent of the vote. As treasurer, he implemented programs that returned millions of dollars in assets to their rightful owners – property and money that would otherwise have been lost in the bureaucratic abyss. Douglas worked hard to keep Vermont’s fiscal house in order, and thanks to his efforts, Vermont’s bond rating came to be the best in New England – and one of the best in the nation – and currently stands at triple-A. In 2000 Douglas was elected president of the National Association of State Treasurers. He served as Vermont’s treasurer until his inauguration as governor in 2003. Over the course of his career, Gov. Douglas has received more votes than any other person in Vermont history, a testament to his appeal to voters of all political persuasions.