February 1, 2024

Testimony of Wesley Tharpe, Senior Advisor for State Tax Policy, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Before the Vermont House Ways and Means Committee

Chair Kornheiser, distinguished members—good morning. I’m Wesley Tharpe, and I’m Senior Advisor for State Tax Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) in Washington, D.C. Thank you very much for the invitation to speak, and I appreciate the opportunity to share some brief perspective here today and to take any questions you may have at the end.

Hi everyone, thanks for having me back. Again, I’m Stephanie Yu, Executive Director of Public Assets Institute. I just want to make a couple of quick points about what all this great work (and clear, thoughtful methodology behind it) from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) means.

First, that the goal is a progressive tax system; we’ve heard now that our tax system actually improves income inequality unlike so many states, but that it remains regressive at the top end and is not truly a progressive system.

So what’s the best way to make our system more progressive? Do we need to increase taxes on the high end or decrease them on the low end? I think the answer is both.

Vermont is facing challenges old and new—from housing shortages and a child mental health crisis to more frequent floods and pandemics. The new problems are far more costly to fix than anything we’ve seen before. The good news: The state has the resources to address its problems and invest in its future. Policymakers need to tap that capacity by changing the way Vermont raises and spends money.

That’s the message of State of Working Vermont 2023. The annual report analyzes Census and other data, including wages, jobs, and employment, poverty, household income, and wealth inequality to provide a clear picture of how Vermonters are doing and where the state needs to go.

   

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