For immediate release
December 19, 2011
802-229-5809 / 272-3765
Washington County State Senator Anthony Pollina says the Legislature should recognize the growing income and wealth gap and work to reverse the trend he says is hurting our economy and families and making any real economic recovery more difficult.
Pollina is introducing a resolution asking the Legislature to support policies that close the wealth gap and oppose those that worsen it. He says the gap is growing in Vermont faster than in other states and Vermonters have endured some of the biggest drops in household income in the country.
Pollina proposes four specific ways to address inequality, the economy and the state budget.
“First we must admit what’s wrong with our economy. In 2010 and 2008 the U.S. Census found Vermont had the biggest declines in household income in the country. The average Vermont family is trying to get by on the same income they had 20 years ago. While some inequality is inevitable, it is also the result of policies that protect the wealthy while sticking it to average families. The Congressional Budget Office says government policy, including tax policy, is widening the income gap. It’s bad for the economy, for small business and families. Businesses need customers to grow and the economy can’t survive if families do not have decent incomes. Opposing increasing inequality is a start.
Second, it’s time to make the wealthiest Vermonters pay their fair share of taxes again, while giving a break to average families, perhaps with additional sales tax holidays.
Last session we debated a small tax increase for the wealthiest Vermonters who are benefiting big time from the Bush tax cuts. Some Senators voted no but said they would likely support the increase next session. Well, the session starts in two weeks; Vermonters are still struggling, the wealthy still enjoying tax cuts, the wealth gap still growing and state budget still under pressure. There are no more excuses.
Third, we can broaden the budget debate by having Vermont adopt a “Genuine Progress Indicator” (GPI) to consider important economic and social factors now ignored.
We need to build a better budget; one that puts people first. If we balance the state budget, by burdening working families and putting off important priorities like cleaning up pollution, we drive up costs over the long term. A GPI measures the real costs of things like water pollution, farmland loss and inequality and the benefits of things like safe communities and quality education and health care to chart a more honest course for our economy.
Fourth, we should invest more of our tax dollars here at home. I am again proposing the State use an econometric computer model when buying things, hiring consultants or investing in construction projects. The model determines which bids are “in the best interests of Vermont,” which usually means supporting Vermont businesses and creating Vermont jobs whenever possible. It’s a no brainer.”