Budget numbers

Posted by Stephanie Yu on March 31, 2017 at 5:32 pm | * Comments (1)

143 to 1. That was the headline last week. The House budget plan that closed a $70 million gap without raising revenue had near-unanimous support.

The House’s version of the budget cobbled together $48 million in transfers, $17 million in savings and cuts, and $5 million in enhanced tax collections to create a budget that virtually everyone could agree on. While the plan appears to be popular inside the Statehouse, this budget does little to address the real issues Vermonters are facing outside.

Here are some other Vermont numbers worth thinking about:

47%: the share of single mothers with young children living in poverty

12%: the amount the middle class has shrunk since 1980

$304,465: the difference in income between a Vermont family in the bottom 20% and one in the top 5%

Another attempt to lower property taxes by raising them

Posted by Paul Cillo on March 22, 2017 at 11:40 am | * Comments (4)

It should be obvious by now: You can’t provide property tax relief by raising property taxes. In fact, it should have been obvious long before now.

Yet that is exactly what the Legislature included in Act 46, the school consolidation bill, in 2015. (It then repealed that provision in 2016.)

And that is exactly what the House Education Committee is proposing again this year. The committee voted on Friday to introduce a committee bill (H.509).

This latest attempt at property tax relief would increase taxes for about half of Vermont towns—the half that has the highest property taxes already—and lower taxes for the towns that have the lowest property taxes.

Seriously. I’m not making this up.

State can help Vermonters save for retirement

Posted by Stephanie Yu on March 15, 2017 at 8:43 am | * Comments (6)

Most Vermonters do not have a big enough nest egg for retirement. In fact, for many, the nest has no egg at all. And the problem is worst for women and people of color. These were just some of the findings in a report released earlier this year by the Vermont Public Retirement Study Committee. Read more

We can’t afford more giveaways to high-income Vermonters

Posted by Paul Cillo on March 9, 2017 at 12:01 pm | Comments Off on We can’t afford more giveaways to high-income Vermonters

Each year the governor and Legislature go through the handwringing exercise of closing a projected state budget gap. The projected General Fund gap for fiscal 2018 is about $70 million.

As usual, much of the conversation has been about reducing spending to get the budget to balance. Read more

Spending caps undermine the state budget’s purpose

Posted by Stephanie Yu on February 24, 2017 at 3:54 pm | Comments Off on Spending caps undermine the state budget’s purpose

Tying public spending to any measure of economic growth is a double whammy for Vermonters in bad times: When the economy slows, it takes state spending down with it. So Vermonters not only have to deal with job and income losses during a recession, they also get hurt by a reduction in state services just when they need them most. Read more

General fund budget gap? What gap?

Posted by Jack Hoffman on February 15, 2017 at 2:23 pm | Comments Off on General fund budget gap? What gap?

On one level, Gov. Phil Scott’s first budget proposal provides a useful lesson. He showed it’s relatively easy to reduce or eliminate a state budget “gap,” at least on paper. You just move the problem into a different account. But it also could be a useful service if it shifts the budget conversation in Montpelier away from “the gap” and more toward to the purpose of raising and spending public money. Read more

No homeowner tax relief in governor’s school budget cuts

Posted by Jack Hoffman on January 27, 2017 at 5:31 pm | * Comments (1)

Gov. Phil Scott said this week that property taxes were one of the biggest contributors to what he calls the state’s “affordability crisis,” and he called on local school boards to cut more than $50 million from the budgets they’ve prepared for next year. Read more

Statement on Gov. Phil Scott’s Jan. 24, 2017, Budget Address

Posted by Paul Cillo on January 24, 2017 at 6:50 pm | Comments Off on Statement on Gov. Phil Scott’s Jan. 24, 2017, Budget Address

In his first budget speech today, Gov. Phil Scott proposed to address what he calls Vermont’s affordability crisis by curbing state spending. But he didn’t have much to say about the main reason many Vermont families are having trouble making ends meet: While the economy is growing, most Vermonters aren’t benefitting. Read more

The budget gap solution

Posted by Jack Hoffman on November 30, 2016 at 10:05 am | Comments Off on The budget gap solution

“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.

Tapping Vermont’s entrepreneurial talent

Posted by Stephanie Yu on November 3, 2016 at 4:23 pm | Comments Off on Tapping Vermont’s entrepreneurial talent

Vermont needs to reduce gender disparities in the labor force, and the state needs more jobs. More women-owned businesses could help on both fronts.

A new report by Change the Story VT shows the potential of female business ownership. According to the report, there’s already a strong entrepreneurial spirit among Vermont women. Read more