Legislature should get a second opinion

Posted by Jack Hoffman on April 13, 2010 at 4:18 pm | * Comments (1)

The version of the fiscal 2011 budget approved by the Vermont House late last month sets aside $62 million in a reserve fund, which might be used to help close part of the budget gap projected for fiscal 2012. But legislators might want to check with federal officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to make sure their plan complies with the law. Read more

Cutting our commitment

Posted by Jack Hoffman on April 9, 2010 at 3:45 pm | * Comments (2)

The message couldn’t have been clearer this week from three former officials of the Vermont Agency of Human Services. They said budgets proposed by both the administration and the Legislature would result in cuts to services for many of the state’s most vulnerable citizens. Read more

Savings could mean more cuts

Posted by Jack Hoffman on March 30, 2010 at 9:22 am | * Comments (1)

Vermonters who rely on services from the Agency of Human Services got a reprieve last week when the Vermont House passed its version of the fiscal 2011 budget. But they shouldn’t relax just yet. The Challenges for Change bill still holds the potential to take back what the House restored. Read more

Becoming Arizona

Posted by Jack Hoffman on March 24, 2010 at 11:47 am | * Comments (1)

All eyes have been on Washington for the last few days as the U.S. finally took a step toward creating a health care system than any civilized country ought to provide. There is still a long way to go, but at least it’s a start. Read more

Where to find $195 million

Posted by Paul Cillo on March 19, 2010 at 8:17 am | * Comments (1)

A sales tax on household services in Vermont could generate up to $195 million in revenue. That’s according to testimony given by phone by Michael Mazerov, Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities, at the March 16 meeting of the Blue Ribbon Tax Structure Commission in Montpelier. Read more

Simple and fair

Posted by Paul Cillo on March 15, 2010 at 8:41 am | * Comments (1)

Montpelier should be trying to make the education tax system simpler and fairer.  But Republican Gov. Jim Douglas is proposing changes that would make the system more complicated and less fair: He’d increase taxes on middle-income Vermonters and lower them on wealthier ones. Read more

Challenges for Change: Keep the process open

Posted by Jack Hoffman on March 10, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Comments Off on Challenges for Change: Keep the process open

Challenges for Change—the new government efficiency plan passed by the Legislature just before the Town Meeting Day recess—is getting off to a bad start. The Education Design Team, which has a little more than two weeks to come up with plans for pretty sweeping changes affecting how schools are run, held its first meeting on Monday behind closed doors. Read more

Tax cuts are a zero-sum game

Posted by Jack Hoffman on March 3, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Comments Off on Tax cuts are a zero-sum game

A new report challenges the conventional wisdom that states can stimulate their local economies by cutting taxes. “The Zero-Sum Game,” from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, D.C., explains that the effects of broad tax cuts are generally cancelled out by the reduction in state spending and layoffs of public employees that typically result from tax cuts. Read more

The Mystery Is Why, Not How

Posted by Jack Hoffman on March 2, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Comments Off on The Mystery Is Why, Not How

On Town Meeting Day, voters in many Vermont communities are confronting school tax increases that are bigger than the increase in overall school spending or the increase in per pupil spending. One explanation from critics of Vermont’s education funding system is: Well, that’s Act 60 for you. Read more

Let’s hear the alternatives

Posted by Jack Hoffman on February 9, 2010 at 10:06 am | Comments Off on Let’s hear the alternatives

Voters in Oregon bucked conventional wisdom last month and chose to raise taxes rather than accept deeper and more damaging cuts to the state budget. The Legislature had approved the package of tax increases on corporations and on households with personal income of $250,000 or more ($125,000 for individuals). Read more