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Public Assets Institute, PO Box 942, Montpelier, Vermont 05601.

Public Assets Institute

Update October 2011

In this issue:
-- Vermont's 99 Percent
-- After the Deluge, Fresh Thinking
-- Hogan Joins Health Care Board
-- The Middle Falls Further Behind
-- Jobs, Jobs, Who'll Create the Jobs?

Vermont's 99 Percent
Forget the confusion of establishment critics. Occupy Wall Street's message isn't hard to follow. In 35 years, American's top 1 percent has taken a bigger and bigger slice of the economic pie. That's true if you look at Vermont's top 10 percent, too, as we did during our Summer Speaking Tour. Its share rose from 30 percent in 1970 to almost 42 percent in 2005. And Vermont's 1 percent? They received 6.6 percent of the state's income in 1970—and by 2005, 19.1 percent. Everyone else—the 99 percent—took home a much smaller slice.

After the Deluge, Fresh Thinking
Tropical Storm Irene struck a Vermont different from the Vermont flooded in 1927. But the state's response then holds lessons for now. The '27 flood forced Gov. John Weeks out of his comfort zone around fiscal policy. Weeks didn't like debt. But when the storms destroyed over 1,000 bridges, he asked the Legislature to borrow $8.5 million—more than the state budget. We haven't yet totaled up Irene's damage, but it's going to require a similar willingness to think thoughts considered unthinkable a few months ago. Read about the two floods.

Hogan Joins Health Care Board
Public Assets board member Con Hogan has stepped down to accept a gubernatorial appointment to the five-member Green Mountain Care Board. The board, created by the Legislature's Act 48, is charged with developing key components of Vermont's single-payer health care plan, Green Mountain Care, including cost containment, provider payment reform, and the benefits package. Its first meeting was Oct. 4. Green Mountain Care could be in place as early as 2014, but more likely by 2017. We wish you the best, Con.

More about Vermont's health care reform.

The Middle Falls Further Behind
September is the month the U.S. Census Bureau releases information about income and poverty in America. The numbers were grim this year, reflecting the short-term effects of the latest recession and the long-term damage of the growing income divide. Vermont's median household income—half the households earn more and half earn less—dropped 7 percent from 2008 to 2010. Read our latest damage assessment.

Jobs, Jobs, Who'll Create the Jobs?
Never mind that Washington's spending cuts, intended to reduce the deficit, will undoubtedly increase unemployment. The priority now is jobs. While some tout businesses as the "job creators," many companies have figured out how to be profitable while cutting jobs. So whose job is it to create jobs? Read our thoughts, here.

Public Assets Institute is funded by grants and donations. Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to support our work.

Fact: In 2010, more than half of Vermont's female-headed households with children under five were living in poverty.

Data source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Fact Finder

bringing fiscal data home

Where the Roads Go
It's hard not to be awestruck by the damage Irene did to Vermont's roads and bridges. It's also been sobering to see how much disruption the loss of key public infrastructure can wreak in business and everyday life. Vermont has more than 14,000 miles of roads throughout the state. The state highway system comprises about 20 percent—roughly 2,700 miles. The remaining 80 percent are class 1, 2, and 3 town roads. Tropical Storm Irene damaged—and in some cases washed away—nearly 560 miles of state highways. That's about 20 percent of the state highway system. The miles of town roads damaged haven't yet been tallied.

This town2town map is an inventory of Vermont roads, both paved and unpaved. Check out your town.

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Public Assets Institute, PO Box 942, Montpelier, Vermont 05601.