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

The governor’s ‘tax relief’ sleight-of-hand

Posted by Jack Hoffman on February 3, 2010 at 2:32 pm | * Comments (3)

Ever hear of the con game pulled on bartenders in busy pubs? A guy strikes up a conversation with a bartender at one end of the bar and says he can make a $100 bill disappear and reappear. He asks the bartender to take $100 bill out of the cash register. Read more

He had it right the first time

Posted by Jack Hoffman on January 26, 2010 at 9:08 pm | * Comments (1)

In his State of the State Address in January 2008, Gov. Jim Douglas made a persuasive argument for changing Vermont’s policy of excluding 40 percent of capital gains from state income taxes:

“Today, I am proposing to close another tax loophole—one that penalizes working Vermonters. Read more

STATEMENT: Public Assets Institute on Governor Douglas’s Budget Address, Jan. 19, 2010

Posted by Jack Hoffman on January 19, 2010 at 3:51 pm | * Comments (1)

There are two parts to Vermont’s current budget problems. One, which the governor accurately described in his budget address today, is the temporary problem of declining revenue brought on by the recession. We need a balanced approach to address this temporary problem. Read more

Health care is the budget-buster—not education

Posted by Jack Hoffman on January 18, 2010 at 3:06 pm | * Comments (4)

From 1992 to 2009, the amount Vermonters spent on health care shot up. In the early 1990s, health care spending was roughly 10 percent of the state’s economy. Last year it was over 17 percent.

When you plot those figures on a chart, you see a steeply rising line. Read more

Is the governor’s budget adequate? Who knows

Posted by Jack Hoffman on January 14, 2010 at 11:15 am | * Comments (1)

Gov. Jim Douglas will present his eighth and final budget request to the Legislature next week. Unfortunately, Vermonters won’t have the information they need to determine whether the governor’s proposal is good or bad, adequate or inadequate.

That’s because Vermont doesn’t prepare annual estimates of the cost of providing the services and programs that it’s currently expected to deliver: a current services budget. Read more

Better results from public services – or just more cuts?

Posted by Paul Cillo on January 8, 2010 at 7:59 pm | * Comments (1)

It was good to see this week’s government efficiency report focusing on better outcomes from essential public services. Challenges for Change: Results for Vermonters held out the promise of saving $38 million in fiscal 2011 and nearly twice that much in fiscal 2012—all while delivering “the same or better result.” Read more

Vermont has dealt with bigger budget gaps

Posted by Jack Hoffman on January 5, 2010 at 2:37 pm | * Comments (1)

Legislators are wringing their hands over the prospect of closing a $150 million budget gap. It’s a daunting task. But 20 years ago Vermont faced an even bigger challenge. The projected shortfall was more than $150 million when Gov. Richard Snelling was sworn in in January 1991—but that was on a General Fund budget half the size of today’s. Read more

Public employees are workers, too

Posted by Paul Cillo on December 31, 2009 at 1:18 pm | Comments Off on Public employees are workers, too

It’s unfortunate, but the recession means that state and local governments have less money to pay for services just as citizens have greater need for those services.  And when government cuts services, it isn’t only turning its back on its citizens; it’s also slowing economic recovery. Read more