Pollina: Inequality, economy are the issues

For immediate release
December 19, 2011

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Anthony Pollina
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.”

Read Sen. Anthony Pollina’s Draft Resolution on income inequality

 

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  • walter carpenter

    How right Senator Pollina is. It’s about time.

  • The wealthy pay more than their fair share in taxes the way things stand now. Anthony Pollina is a thief. He wants equal outcomes for all as opposed to equal opportunity for all not realizing that if all outcomes are equal, nobody will have the opportunity to succeed.

    • Doug Hoffer

      What is a fair share Mr. Herrick?

      Many think that because the wealthy pay a large portion of total income taxes that that means it’s “more than their fair share.” In fact, the wealthy pay a large portion of total income taxes because they have a large portion of total income and because we have a progressive income tax. However, there is more to our graduated income tax than the comparatively high top marginal rate.

      For example, the top marginal rate is 8.95% but it doesn’t apply until the first dollar over $370,000. As a result, on average the wealthiest Vermonters pay about 5.5% of Adjusted Gross Income in state income taxes.

      And note that Vermont bases the income tax on federal taxable income, which means it’s after filers have subtracted huge amounts for various deductions. This is especially beneficial to the wealthy who can take advantage of a much greater array of such tax reduction opportunities. This subject was discussed in detail by the Blue Ribbon Tax Commission a couple of years ago.

      In addition, we still rely heavily on two regressive taxes (property & sales). So when you look at the so-called tax burden for ALL major taxes, the wealthy actually pay a
      smaller percentage of their income than the middle class.

      Here is a link to a worksheet from ITEP, which consistently produces some of the most respected non-governmental tax analyses in the country.
      http://www.itepnet.org/wp2009/vt_whopays_factsheet.pdf

      There is a lot of misunderstanding about taxes. It’s often very different than what you hear.

      BTW – I know Mr. Pollina. He has never said anything about equal outcomes. It’s just another myth.

  • walter carpenter

    “the opportunity to succeed.”

    Exactly what is success?

  • Nicole LeBlanc

    Thank You!!! Our society would be better off if we didnt have this widening GAP between the RICH and THE poor!!! Its time for VT/U.S to adopt budget’s that reflect our values and are based on human needs. The manage to the $$ approach is weaking the middle class and harming our most vulnerlable citizens! 1% has GOT TO GO!

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