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With a major turnover in political leadership in Montpelier this January, the new administration and Legislature should zero in on three fundamental initiatives to move the state forward:

• Ensure that work pays and all Vermont families can meet their basic needs.

• Make smart, evidence-based investments in programs and infrastructure.

• Restore public confidence in state government by improving and promoting good governance, including efficacy, fairness, and transparency.

Those are the recommendations contained in A Framework for Progress: Investing in Vermont’s people, infrastructure, and good government.

preview-mjb088 Both the labor force and the number of jobs shrank in October. Vermont lost 2,100 non-farm payroll jobs last month, and ended up with 550 fewer people in the labor force, which includes the self-employed. October was the third straight month that jobs decreased and the fourth that the labor force contracted.

“Vermonters need to smoke more.”

That was the eye-catching headline to a recent column by Jon Margolis on vtdigger.org. It was a great way to explain Vermont’s chronic budget gaps without putting everyone to sleep talking about “structural revenue problems.”

Margolis was right. Part of Vermont’s budget problems are due to the state’s reliance on revenue that is tied to an ever-shrinking tax base.

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Per-Pupil Education Spending and Tax Rates, Fiscal 2016

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