Public Assets Institute http://publicassets.org forward thinking for Vermont’s common good Fri, 04 Aug 2017 17:09:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Speaking with one voice on health care http://publicassets.org/blog/speaking-with-one-voice-on-health-care/ http://publicassets.org/blog/speaking-with-one-voice-on-health-care/#comments Fri, 04 Aug 2017 17:09:04 +0000 http://publicassets.org/?p=11545 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

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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). Many of them were fighting to convince their governors, senators, and representatives that slashing Medicaid funding, disrupting the individual insurance market, and putting their constituents’ health in danger would be devastating.

But not in Vermont. Here we’re fortunate to have our senators, representative, and governor all on the same side. Governor Phil Scott joined a bipartisan group of 11 governors last month to urge the U.S. Senate not to repeal the ACA, but to work with governors to fix it. Senators Leahy and Sanders not only voted against repeal, but made strong statements denouncing the attempts to take health care away from Vermonters. Representative Welch voted against the plan proposed in the U.S. House and supports a bipartisan path to better health care.

The effects of any of the proposals considered so far in Congress would be harmful to Vermont. Estimates by the Urban Institute and the AARP showed that the state’s uninsured rate would nearly triple under the various plans, stripping health coverage from over 30,000 Vermonters. The state would lose hundreds of millions of dollars a year in federal funding, and Vermonters purchasing insurance on the individual market would see costs go up by thousands of dollars per year.

Governors know better than most how cuts at the federal level can affect their states—federal funds make up more than a third of Vermont’s budget—and their voices are important in the debates in Washington.

This isn’t the first time Republican Governor Scott has taken a stand against national Republican leadership. In January, he protested President Trump’s executive order restricting immigration and refugee resettlement, and he has questioned tactics by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.

At least for now, Vermonters can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that recent national health care gains are secure. But maybe it’s not luck that produced the unified voice we heard this summer. Maybe it’s what Vermonters expect from their leaders.

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It’s the property tax that’s unfair http://publicassets.org/blog/its-the-property-tax-thats-unfair/ http://publicassets.org/blog/its-the-property-tax-thats-unfair/#comments Thu, 03 Aug 2017 18:25:17 +0000 http://publicassets.org/?p=11540 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.

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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.

The education of children is one of society’s most important responsibilities, and we all benefit when children can grow to be informed, productive, contributing members of the community. Because we all benefit, we each need to contribute our fair share to the cost of education—that is, according to our ability to pay. In our present-day economy, a better and fairer indicator of a person’s ability to pay is income, not the assessed value of one particular piece of property.

Nearly 50 years ago, Vermont recognized that property values did not reflect people’s ability to pay. At the time, newcomers were moving to Vermont and driving up property values, but older residents living on fixed incomes didn’t have the money to pay their higher tax bills. To avoid pushing people out of their homes, Vermont instituted a rebate program for older homeowners whose property taxes exceeded a certain percentage of their income. This ability-to-pay concept was later incorporated into the state’s current education funding system. Today, about two-thirds of Vermont homeowners pay school taxes based on their household income rather than the value of their home.

Woolf argues that these people are getting a break, and that because they’re getting a break, they feel they can afford to spend more on education. But studies done by the Vermont Tax Department over the years show something different: that many high income Vermonters who pay property taxes are the ones getting a break. People with annual incomes of $500,000 or more typically pay a smaller percentage of their income to support schools than do Vermonters with incomes of $60,000 or $70,000. Given the importance of education, shouldn’t those who benefit most from society contribute the most to the cost of educating our children?

There is a problem of fairness with Vermont’s two-tiered system, but the solution is not a return to the school property tax for all Vermont resident homeowners. A fair system would have all Vermont residents pay school taxes based on their income and all non-residential property owners continue to pay the property tax.

 

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It’s past time for paid family and medical leave http://publicassets.org/blog/its-past-time-for-paid-family-and-medical-leave/ http://publicassets.org/blog/its-past-time-for-paid-family-and-medical-leave/#comments Tue, 25 Jul 2017 20:33:41 +0000 http://publicassets.org/?p=11535 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.

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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 Vermont proposal, driven by an analysis released by the Vermont Women’s Commission, advocated for 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a new child, a sick family member, or the worker’s own health problem. The program would also work on an insurance model – everyone pays in, but you utilize it only when you need it. Both employers and employees would pay into the insurance fund, but its use would not be tied to a particular job.

The Vermont House passed a pared-down version of this proposal last session, and the Senate may take it up in 2018. The House version limited the leave to six weeks, placed the cost entirely onto employees (leaving out employers), and removed the benefit for the worker’s own illness.

While six weeks may be better than no paid leave at all, it falls well short of Washington State’s 12 weeks. And even 12 weeks is a modest benefit: The average paid parental leave among the 35 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development is 52 weeks. Numerous studies show that longer leaves lead to better results for both parents and children, and help the economy by keeping women in the workforce, reducing the need for public assistance, and reducing health care costs for parents and children.

What accounts for the resistance to something that more than 70 percent of Vermonters support? Money, of course. A big hurdle in the House was the cost to the state for its own employees, as well as the costs of the system’s administration. On top of that was Governor Scott’s threat to veto anything that would raises taxes even a penny – never mind that most Vermonters want it and are willing to chip in for it.

Vermont won’t be first on this issue. But we can follow Washington’s lead – offering at least 12 weeks, covering workers’ own health conditions, and sharing the costs between employees and employers. It would be good for workers, for families, and for the Vermont economy.

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Vermont’s economy: Nothing to write home about http://publicassets.org/library/publications/vermonts-economy-nothing-to-write-home-about/ http://publicassets.org/library/publications/vermonts-economy-nothing-to-write-home-about/#respond Fri, 21 Jul 2017 15:56:31 +0000 http://publicassets.org/?p=11517 Most Vermont counties are below average—at least when it comes to wages. The latest annual figures for 2016 show that only three counties had annual wages higher than the state average. Workers did worst in Orleans, Essex, and Grand Isle counties, where annual wages came in at more than 20 percent below the state average. Read more

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Most Vermont counties are below average—at least when it comes to wages. The latest annual figures for 2016 show that only three counties had annual wages higher than the state average. Workers did worst in Orleans, Essex, and Grand Isle counties, where annual wages came in at more than 20 percent below the state average.

 

 

 

Manufacturing decline
All corners of the state have seen a drop in manufacturing jobs in the last 15 years. Overall, about a third of the jobs have disappeared, falling from about 45,000 in 2001 to about 30,000 last year. Chittenden County, the state’s largest, lost the greatest number of manufacturing jobs. Its share of the state’s factory jobs has also shrunk.

 

 

 

Lagging GDP
For the second year in a row, Vermont’s economy has grown the slowest in New England. After adjusting for inflation, the state’s gross domestic product grew just 0.8 percent in 2016; the year before saw 0.9 percent growth. Meanwhile Massachusetts’ GDP increased more than twice as fast as Vermont’s last year. New Hampshire more than tripled Vermont’s growth rate.

 

 

 

 

 

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The state that loves refugees http://publicassets.org/blog/the-state-that-loves-refugees/ http://publicassets.org/blog/the-state-that-loves-refugees/#comments Mon, 17 Jul 2017 14:59:51 +0000 http://publicassets.org/?p=11509 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.

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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.

The PBS Newshour ran a segment recently about Utica, New York, and how refugees have helped to revive that city. According to the broadcast, Utica lost nearly a third of its population when factories closed and the city fell on hard times. Now about one out of four Utica residents is a refugee, and the city is on the rebound.

Rutland’s plan to promote Syrian refugees last year ran into opposition, but Chittenden County has been welcoming people from Sudan, Somalia, and other war-torn countries for years. It’s time to think seriously about how to promote resettlement in other parts of the state. Chittenden County already has strong job growth, and school enrollments in Burlington are increasing. It’s the rest of the state that needs the help.

In this Trump era of xenophobia, it’s important that our kids gain a balanced understanding of the world. One of the best things we could do for them is to let them experience more races, nationalities, cultures, and languages in their communities.

Last year Vermont again ranked first in the number of current and former Peace Corps Volunteers per capita. The Peace Corps is as much about exposing Americans to the rest of the world as it is about helping the so-called underdeveloped world. By welcoming refugees in towns across the state, we could give Vermont kids—and adults—a greater sense of appreciation and tolerance for our global community.

Vermont has been struggling with a declining school-aged population for almost 20 years. The latest response has been to close schools through school district consolidation. Surely we can be more creative and take a more positive view of the future. The state needs to develop an active campaign to promote itself and recruit young, industrious families.

The PBS Newshour reported that Utica bills itself as “the town that loves refugees.” Vermont could distinguish itself by rejecting the notions that the world is a dark and dangerous place and that all foreigners are terrorists, and declare ourselves the state that loves refugees. If we did, we’d benefit our economy, our children, our communities, and ourselves.

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In the lead, Vermont women still catching up http://publicassets.org/blog/in-the-lead-vermont-women-still-catching-up/ http://publicassets.org/blog/in-the-lead-vermont-women-still-catching-up/#comments Wed, 05 Jul 2017 19:32:37 +0000 http://publicassets.org/?p=11494 In many ways, Vermont women are stuck.

Stuck in the same professions as 40 years ago.

Stuck with higher rates of poverty, both for single mothers with young children and for the elderly.

Stuck with wages persistently below men’s.

Stuck with limited opportunities for leadership and lower rates of business ownership.

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We’re number one. That’s what a recent survey of the best states for working mothers concluded. That’s good news. Vermont ranks high on the three areas the survey rated: child care, work-life balance, and professional opportunities.

But being the best in the country says as much about the rest of the country as it does about Vermont, which has some real challenges that disproportionately affect women.

Change the Story VT released a series of reports over the last year and a half on the state of women in Vermont covering work and wages, where women work, business ownership, and leadership.

These reports show that in many ways, Vermont women are stuck.  Stuck in the same professions as 40 years ago. Stuck with higher rates of poverty, both for single mothers with young children and for the elderly. Stuck with wages persistently below men’s. Stuck with limited opportunities for leadership and lower rates of business ownership.

While Vermont’s legislature is nearly 40 percent women, that number has barely budged in 24 years. Though Vermont’s wage gap is one of the smallest in the country, women still make 84 cents for every dollar a man makes. Female high school students are just as likely to take advanced placement courses as male, but then they don’t major in the sciences in college or enter those professions in large numbers.

And then of course there’s this:

Single mothers with young children have a poverty rate more than four times the statewide rate, and they earn almost $20,000 less per year than single fathers with young children (see chart). But the truth is, single parents struggle regardless of gender: more than two-thirds can’t meet the basic needs of themselves and their children.

What can Vermont do for these families?  Raising the minimum wage would help. Ensuring paid family and medical leave so that women, who are much more likely to be caregivers, don’t have to choose between their jobs and their other responsibilities would help. Investing in quality, affordable child care so that everyone has access to it would help. Investing in educational opportunities so that higher education is accessible would help.

And how about changing the conversation so that these are treated as necessities, critical to a healthy, vibrant society, and not just “women’s issues?” Maybe then we wouldn’t need the working mothers survey at all – or maybe the survey could be about ranking states based on how well they work for everyone, women included.

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Reduce school tax volatility http://publicassets.org/blog/reduce-school-tax-volatility/ Thu, 29 Jun 2017 17:46:13 +0000 http://publicassets.org/?p=11489 While press and public attention focused last week on the feud over who should negotiate teacher health insurance benefits, the Legislature was making more consequential changes to education funding that will affect schools and taxpayers in the 2018-2019 school year. It’s not clear yet how to mitigate these shortsighted changes next session. But there is an obvious step that needs to be taken to ensure the Education Fund is thoughtfully managed in the future.

We need a formal body, similar to the Emergency Board (which determines the consensus revenue forecasts) or the Debt Affordability Advisory Committee, to recommend education tax rates and use of Education Fund reserves. An Education Fund Stabilization Advisory Committee could help to ensure the long-term fiscal health of Vermont’s education finance system and avoid dramatic school tax increases like we can expect to see next year.

The health care feud ended up being a fight over $13 million, spread over two years. That’s not to be ignored. But out of total school tax collections of more than $2 billion over the next two years, the savings will be barely noticeable.

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While press and public attention focused last week on the feud over who should negotiate teacher health insurance benefits, the Legislature was making more consequential changes to education funding that will affect schools and taxpayers in the 2018-2019 school year. It’s not clear yet how to mitigate these shortsighted changes next session. But there is an obvious step that needs to be taken to ensure the Education Fund is thoughtfully managed in the future.

We need a formal body, similar to the Emergency Board (which determines the consensus revenue forecasts) or the Debt Affordability Advisory Committee, to recommend education tax rates and use of Education Fund reserves. An Education Fund Stabilization Advisory Committee could help to ensure the long-term fiscal health of Vermont’s education finance system and avoid dramatic school tax increases like we can expect to see next year.

The health care feud ended up being a fight over $13 million, spread over two years. That’s not to be ignored. But out of total school tax collections of more than $2 billion over the next two years, the savings will be barely noticeable.

What taxpayers are likely to notice is $35 million of one-time money the governor and the Legislature agreed to spend in fiscal 2018. They are using all of the unallocated reserves in the Education Fund—$26 million—and they are lowering the so-called stabilization reserve to close to the statutory minimum. That’s another $7.8 million that won’t have to come from taxes in fiscal 2018. While these funds may make people feel better this summer and fall when they get their school tax bills, it sets the stage for some major headaches in fiscal 2019.

Many local school districts spent down their reserves in fiscal 2017 in response to ill-conceived tax penalties imposed by the Legislature on districts that spent more than a prescribed amount. Rather than curb spending, some districts used money from their reserves to avoid triggering the penalties. But now they no longer have funds saved for the next rainy day. And assuming the projections hold, there will be not a cushion in the Education Fund after fiscal 2018, either.

It would be one thing if the reserves were being used for one-time expenditures. But they’re not. They’re being spent on routine, continuing operations, which means taxes will have to increase in fiscal 2019 just to maintain current spending. Any increase in spending will require further tax increases.

Much of the debate this year and the unnecessary upward pressure on property taxes that the governor’s and Legislature’s decisions will cause next year could have been avoided.

An independent advisory committee or board could help the Legislature avoid the roller-coaster effect on tax rates caused by depleting reserves. Such a committee could take the long view and encourage stability of the Education Fund and school taxes over short-term expediency.

The Legislature has adopted sound policies like this in the past. Years ago, the Legislature and the administration used to do separate revenue forecasts and conveniently used whatever numbers suited their immediate needs. If the budget didn’t balance, one solution was to adopt a rosier revenue forecast.

Now we have a consensus forecast. The Legislature and the administration have economists who do separate estimates, but then the two sides come together and agree on one set of numbers that everyone uses. It has reduced the game playing that undermines public trust in government.

It’s time to do the same for the Education Fund.

 

 

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Act 60 turns 20 http://publicassets.org/press/op-eds/act-60-turns-20/ http://publicassets.org/press/op-eds/act-60-turns-20/#comments Tue, 27 Jun 2017 14:52:58 +0000 http://publicassets.org/?p=11483 The Equal Educational Opportunity Act, better known as Act 60, is 20 years old on Monday. On June 26, 1997, at an outdoor ceremony in Whiting, Gov. Howard Dean signed into law Vermont’s unique and groundbreaking education funding system.

As we face tensions over school consolidation and who should determine teachers’ health insurance benefits, it’s worth remembering what Vermont has already achieved in school funding.

Vermont has taken a huge step toward solving a problem that still plagues other states: educational disparities between kids born into wealthy communities and those in cities and towns with less wealth and fewer educational resources.

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By JACK HOFFMAN, Rutland Herald, June 24, 2017

The Equal Educational Opportunity Act, better known as Act 60, is 20 years old on Monday. On June 26, 1997, at an outdoor ceremony in Whiting, Gov. Howard Dean signed into law Vermont’s unique and groundbreaking education funding system.

As we face tensions over school consolidation and who should determine teachers’ health insurance benefits, it’s worth remembering what Vermont has already achieved in school funding.

Vermont has taken a huge step toward solving a problem that still plagues other states: educational disparities between kids born into wealthy communities and those in cities and towns with less wealth and fewer educational resources.

About five months before Act 60 became law, the Vermont Supreme Court had ruled the funding system in place in 1997 unconstitutional. At the time, Vermont, like many states, relied heavily on local property taxes to support public schools. The problem was that towns with lots of valuable property could easily raise the money with low property tax rates to educate each student in town, while poorer communities struggled with high tax rates and still couldn’t raise enough to give their kids a decent education. The Legislature provided state aid to try to even things out, but the court found it inadequate.

In Brigham vs State of Vermont, the court said public education is a fundamental right, and the state is responsible for seeing that all schoolchildren have equal educational opportunity.

“Equal opportunity does not necessarily require precisely equal per-capita expenditures,” the court said, “nor does it necessarily prohibit cities and towns from spending more on education if they choose, but it does not allow a system in which educational opportunity is necessarily a function of district wealth.”

Act 60 largely did away with the idea of local educational resources. Instead, it recognized that we—all of us in Vermont—have a responsibility to see that all Vermont children—not just those in our town—get a good education. For the kids, it’s a matter of fairness. They all deserve the chance to get the skills and learning they need to live happy, productive, fulfilling lives. As a practical matter, if a child in the next town grows up to be our doctor or mechanic or electrician, we want her to be at least as well educated as our own children.

Act 60, in effect, pools all of the state’s education resources in one fund, and all school districts have the same opportunity to draw on that money. Before Act 60, it was chaos—there was no correlation between tax rates and per-pupil spending. It’s now a rational system.

For resident homeowners, the level of per-pupil spending in their town determines their payment into the pool. Towns with the same education spending per pupil have the same school tax rates, and towns that spend more have proportionally higher tax rates than those that spend less.

A 2012 study of Vermont’s Act 60 funding system commissioned by the Legislature stated: “The state has designed an equitable system. We found virtually no relationship between district fiscal capacity (measured by either by district property wealth or personal income) and spending levels.”

That’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement. About two-thirds of Vermont resident homeowners pay an income-based school tax. However, high-income homeowners still pay property-based taxes. The system would be fairer if all Vermonters paid school taxes as a percentage of their income.

We also have an achievement gap that has its roots in poverty. As the Vermont Supreme Court said 20 years ago, “Equal opportunity does not necessarily require precisely equal per-capita expenditures.” In fact, equal educational opportunity requires additional resources for some children to ensure that they have the same chances to succeed as their peers.

Act 60 was a big step forward for Vermont kids. We now have the challenge of ensuring that all Vermont children can succeed in school.

 

Jack Hoffman is a senior analyst at Public Assets Institute, a non-partisan nonprofit in Montpelier (publicassets.org). Before joining Public Assets, Jack was a reporter with the Vermont Press Bureau for 20 years and wrote extensively about education funding and Act 60. He attended the Act 60 signing in Whiting.

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2017 Con Hogan Community Leadership Award Nomination Deadline is June 29 http://publicassets.org/press/press-releases/2017-con-hogan-community-leadership-award-nomination-deadline-is-june-29/ http://publicassets.org/press/press-releases/2017-con-hogan-community-leadership-award-nomination-deadline-is-june-29/#comments Thu, 22 Jun 2017 18:13:04 +0000 http://publicassets.org/?p=11481 Middlebury, VT – The Con Hogan Award for Creative, Entrepreneurial Community Leadership continues to seek nominations for its 2017 award. Now in its third year, the annual award is a tribute to Con Hogan’s life’s work and commitment. It’s intended to encourage and reward leaders who share his vision of a better Vermont—one that places the highest value on the public good—and who seize the responsibility for making that vision real by using data and measurement, monitoring a plan of action, and making adjustments along the way. Read more

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Middlebury, VT – The Con Hogan Award for Creative, Entrepreneurial Community Leadership continues to seek nominations for its 2017 award. Now in its third year, the annual award is a tribute to Con Hogan’s life’s work and commitment. It’s intended to encourage and reward leaders who share his vision of a better Vermont—one that places the highest value on the public good—and who seize the responsibility for making that vision real by using data and measurement, monitoring a plan of action, and making adjustments along the way. The $15,000 award may be spent in any way the selected individual chooses.

The award honoree will be selected by a committee of individuals with a broad range of interests and experience including health and human services, the arts, government service, early care and education, agriculture, and civic duty. The honoree will have demonstrated the following characteristics: a track record of making a difference, focus on data-driven results, community connection, generosity, and enthusiasm. The honoree must be an individual who is a Vermont resident and has not previously received the award.

“Con Hogan is somebody who has always said ‘what is the problem and how can we break it down into smaller parts’… and then to not let the typical things get in his way,” said Michael Monte, winner of the 2016 award. “That’s the kind of person you want to honor with this award. It’s leadership, but it’s also leadership with an attempt to bring new ideas to light in a way that is both fact-based and community-based.”

You can view an interview with Michael Monte about the Con Hogan Award and its impact here.

Nominations will be accepted through the Vermont Community Foundation’s website until 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 29th, 2017. The award will be presented at a public ceremony on October 4, 2017 in Montpelier. For more information or to submit a nomination and to learn more about Con, visit www.vermontcf.org/conhoganaward.

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The workforce shrank. The gender divide persisted http://publicassets.org/library/publications/the-workforce-shrank-the-gender-divide-persisted/ Fri, 16 Jun 2017 18:45:12 +0000 http://publicassets.org/?p=11468 After trending up for 14 months, the labor force—people working or actively seeking work—decreased slightly in April and more in May. The losses came from the ranks of the employed, leaving the workforce below its 2009 peak by nearly 15,000 workers. Read more

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After trending up for 14 months, the labor force—people working or actively seeking work—decreased slightly in April and more in May. The losses came from the ranks of the employed, leaving the workforce below its 2009 peak by nearly 15,000 workers.

 

 

 

 

Women: Stuck in a few fields  The share of women workers in any field has not changed much in a decade. Women comprise the minority in most sectors and are especially underrepresented in construction, utilities, and transportation. They make up the majority in many service-oriented jobs, such as health care and educational services, but tend to be more equally represented in other service fields, such as accommodation and food services and retail stores.

 

 

 

. . . and still paid less
Although the gender gap in earnings has closed in certain sectors—including wholesale trade, utilities, and arts, entertainment, and recreation—women’s average pay lags behind men’s across the board. In 2016 women in management and in finance and insurance earned about half as much as men. Women’s earnings exceeded 90 cents on a man’s dollar in only one sector out of 23. The gap may reflect both lower wages and fewer hours worked.

*For readability, the charts include only 20 of the 23 sectors for which the Vermont Department of Labor collects these data. Find the full list at the VDOL website.

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