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While Washington and the rest of the nation sort out the meaning of a Donald Trump presidency, new leaders in Montpelier have an opportunity to address the needs of low- and moderate-income Vermonters for whom a secure middle-class life seems unaffordable and out of reach. A higher minimum wage, access to high-quality child care, an expanded public education system including at least two years of college, and a program to help workers save for retirement can address the affordability problem for Vermonters struggling to make ends meet.

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Nonfarm payroll jobs decreased in November to 315,000—a drop of more than 1,000 jobs since January. But the total number of employed Vermonters, both payroll workers and those who are self-employed, has held steady for most of 2016, up less than 1 percent since the start the year.

Race matters

Newly released U.S. Census data show that nearly a quarter of black Vermonters live in poverty, as do 20 percent of those who check two or more races on the Census form.

“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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The latest:
Per-Pupil Education Spending and Tax Rates, Fiscal 2016

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