Timing is everything

Posted by Stephanie Yu on October 10, 2017 at 4:07 pm | Comments (0)

It’s understandable. The Fight for 15 has a certain alliterative ring to it. But ultimately, the number itself matters less than the timing.

The debate about raising the minimum wage in Vermont has clearly been influenced by the national push for a $15 an hour minimum wage and actions taken in other states. But when will Vermont get to $15? That is the critical question in this discussion.

The current $10 minimum wage is slated to go to $10.50 next year and grow with inflation after that. It would reach $15 by about 2034.

The cost of inaction

Posted by Stephanie Yu on October 3, 2017 at 10:15 am | * Comments (4)

Since July, the Minimum Wage Study Committee has spent a lot of time discussing the possible effects of raising the minimum wage.

Their time might be better spent discussing the effects of not raising it.

Holly Morehouse to Receive the 2017 Con Hogan Award

Posted by Paul Cillo on September 27, 2017 at 9:50 am | Comments (0)

The Vermont Community Foundation and the organizing committee for the Con Hogan Award for Creative, Entrepreneurial, Community Leadership are pleased to announce that Holly Morehouse, Executive Director of Vermont Afterschool, Inc., will be honored with this year’s award.

The $15,000 award, to be used however the recipient chooses, will be presented to Morehouse at a reception on October 4th at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier.

Poverty-fighting programs work

Posted by Jack Hoffman on September 22, 2017 at 10:43 am | Comments Off on Poverty-fighting programs work

Vermont made headlines last week when the U.S. Census released its latest statistics for 2016: We were the only state to show an increase in the poverty rate. That may have been an artifact of the Census survey sample. The poverty rate showed an unusual drop in 2015, and 2016 looks more like a return to normal than a real increase. Read more

Act 60 created new opportunity for kids

Posted by Stephanie Yu on September 7, 2017 at 11:40 am | * Comments (1)

As students across Vermont start the 2017-18 school year it’s worth reflecting on what happened 20 years ago. In 1997 the Vermont Supreme Court’s Brigham decision forced policymakers to develop a more equitable funding system. That system, established by Act 60, created a statewide school tax and gave students from all over the state more equal access to resources and opportunity. Read more

State budget rescissions

Posted by Jack Hoffman on August 24, 2017 at 5:08 pm | * Comments (1)

The governor’s office and the Legislature agreed in mid-August on how to close a $12.6 million budget gap that came to light after the Legislature adjourned its 2017 session.

The gap surfaced last month when economists for the Legislature and the administration lowered their estimate of how much revenue the state can expect to collect this fiscal year. Read more

Speaking with one voice on health care

Posted by Paul Cillo on August 4, 2017 at 1:09 pm | * Comments (1)

Vermont is lucky. Even with divided state government and occasional partisan spats, our leaders on both sides of the aisle can agree that taking health care away from millions of Americans is a bad idea.

At a conference I attended in Boise, Idaho last week, state-level policy leaders from around the country discussed the potential impact of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Read more

It’s the property tax that’s unfair

Posted by Jack Hoffman on August 3, 2017 at 2:25 pm | * Comments (4)

Economist Art Woolf wrote recently that Vermont spends too much on education because taxes are too low for many residents. Woolf was referring specifically to resident homeowners who qualify to pay school taxes as a percentage of their income rather than on the value of their property. According to Woolf, because their income-based taxes are less than their property taxes would be, these homeowners feel like education in Vermont is on sale, so they’re buying more of it.

One problem with Woolf’s hypothesis is that it assumes that the value of a primary residence is a fair and rational indicator of how much each Vermonter should be contributing to the education of our children. It may have been 200 years ago, when the value of a person’s property and possessions was the best measure of his ability to pay. But that isn’t true today, and the system should be brought up to date with today’s economy.

It’s past time for paid family and medical leave

Posted by Stephanie Yu on July 25, 2017 at 4:33 pm | * Comments (1)

Washington State is better than Vermont. Well, on one measure anyway: paid family and medical leave.

This month Washington became the fifth state to enact a paid family and medical leave program, offering up to 12 weeks of time off to care for a new child or a sick family member, or to take care of personal health issues. The program is paid for through an insurance program funded by both employees and employers.

Washington’s program is similar to the one proposed by the Family and Medical Leave Coalition in Vermont last session.

The state that loves refugees

Posted by Jack Hoffman on July 17, 2017 at 10:59 am | * Comments (3)

Despite the recent turmoil in Rutland, Vermont owes it to itself to take a good, hard look at the benefits of welcoming the world’s growing numbers of refugees. We have excess capacity in our schools, and refugees’ families could fill many of the empty classroom seats while bringing diversity to our communities. It’s not just the right thing to do, it would also give a boost to the state’s economy. Vermont should lead the way—like we did with same-sex marriage and equitable education funding.