Environment

Scott administration rejects $31 million tax plan for Lake Champlain cleanup

David Deen
Rep. David Deen, D-Putney, chair of the House Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources Committee. File photo by John Herrick/VTDigger
A House panel has approved $31 million in taxes and fees to support cleanup of Lake Champlain.

Rep. David Deen, D-Westminster, says he wants to ensure that a funding mechanism is in place when other sources of funding expire in two years. The House Committee on Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife approved the spending proposal in a 7-2 vote.

“We were careful to use a nexus connected to clean water,” Deen said.

The Scott administration issued a statement on Tuesday night, shortly after the bill was approved, rejecting the plan.

Under the House plan, additional taxes and fees would be assessed on property, roadways, vehicles, marinas and tourism. The big ticket items are a 1 percent increase in the rooms and meals tax, which would generate $18.9 million annually; a $10 annual motor vehicle fee, which raises $6 million a year, and a 0.2 percent surcharge on the property transfer tax, which brings in $4.7 million annually.

The plan would go into effect in 2019 and would sunset in 2021, when a per parcel fee would go into effect. The Clean Water Funding Bill creates the formation of a working group that would analyze options for a per parcel, per acre or impervious surface fee.

The EPA has mandated a $2.3 billion investment in Lake Champlain cleanup over a 20-year period. The state’s largest body of water has been polluted by phosphorus runoff from farms, parking lots, dirt roads and fertilizers used on lawns.

Toxic algae blooms have proliferated in the northern area of the lake and turned the Mississquoi Bay into a poisonous green soup.

The state needs to raise $25 million to $30 million a year to pay for mitigation efforts. Beth Pearce, the state treasurer, has proposed using existing sources of revenue over the next two years until the Legislature and the executive branch identify a long-term revenue source.

Rebecca Kelley, the communications director for Republican Gov. Phil Scott, says the governor will not approve any new taxes or fees this year and in a statement wholly rejected the plan approve by the House Committee on Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife.

Kelley said the Legislature has two years to review other “financial tools and existing revenue sources to fund clean water efforts.”

“Making decisions now about the appropriate funding source two to three years away is premature at best,” Kelley said. “Why the Legislature would not take that time to explore alternatives and think creatively – and, instead, instinctively turn to increasing taxes and fees on Vermonters, whether this year or two years down the road – is baffling.”

Deen counters that what’s “baffling” is the governor’s lack of interest in offering a solution that guarantees support for lack cleanup efforts.

“Does he want to wait until the lake turns green, the Connecticut River smells and we have fish kills?” Deen said. “This is serious stuff. The way we’ve structured this nothing happens until two years from now. We will get a working group together to figure out how in the hell to do a per parcel fee. If that kicks in, all this goes away.”

If the state does nothing to ensure cleanup efforts are adequately funded, Deen said, “we could lose Lake Champlain and put Lake Memphremagog and the Connecticut River at risk.”

Jason Gibbs, Scott’s chief of staff, has said the governor wants to use state bonding capacity to pay for cleanup. A plan detailing how the bonding proposal would work has not yet been submitted to the Legislature.

Correction: A proposed fee would be on all motor vehicles, not just motorcycles.


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  • Lester French

    Democrats are out of control with their tax and spend proposals!

    • Bob Hooper

      Actually Lester French, I would rather have the tax and spend thing you blame the Dems for, than the cut taxes and spend even more that the other deficit loving group has professed since the days of Reagan tinkle down philosophy that drove the economy off of the cliff. Your comment??

  • James Maroney

    “Why the Legislature would not…think creatively… is baffling.”

  • Bob Hooper

    “We were careful to use a nexus connected to clean water,” Deen said.

    so a per parcel fee is in the works, but in the mean time let’s go for a fee on motorcycles?? “straight face test”? We know the pollution comes from FARMING, Parking lots, and greening chemicals for our lawns…. We also know that as vehicles go, and in the limited season they are used in Vermont, motorcycles use significantly less fuel -and produce significantly less therefore- than most other forms of transportation. So, smacking a 30% increase onto the registration fee REALLY SEEMS LOGICAL…..

    I personally am appreciative that Gov Scott recognizes that Fees ARE taxes by another name and is being critical of those increases as well as the percentage of my income that gets sucked back into the state coffers…

    However, this legislative overreach just confounds me beyond belief… FAIL…

  • Ricci Ropes

    WHEN DOES IT STOP! Now a motorcycle fee?

  • Chet Greenwood

    Kudos to Governor Scott. We do have to clean up Lake Champlain- as well as all the other lakes in Vermont but we can’t just arbitrarily tax everything to reach their goal.
    Since Champlain is shared by NY and Quebec, what joint commissions do we have to work on the end solution?
    According to the Vermont Housing and Conservation website, they receive apx $15 million annually from VT property transfer taxes. We all know that lake front property sells for 3-5 times non-lake front indicating that a large portion of this tax comes from lake front transfers. Why can’t we earmark a percentage of this $15 mil to the clean water fund? Conservation is part of their goal.
    VHCB could also use some of their $25 mil revenue to buy 25 foot easement rights on water front property to build riparian buffer zones.

  • Craig Powers

    Another set of taxes proposed by the Dems/Progs…how fitting. Thankfully there is finally some push back against the tax and spend supermajority. They have never met a problem that they cannot fix by throwing money at it over and over and over. Problem is that they do not realize they are slowly strangling the VT economy and taking more money away from the Vermont populace. All the while they moan about people having affordability problems. It is a never ending circle of insanity.

    Didn’t Rep Deen propose a coffee tax because it makes humans urinate, which in turn pollutes the lake…How can anyone take this legislator seriously?

    • Gus Steves

      I know, right! Who could possibly think that cleaning up Lake Champlain is a good idea?! The nerve some of these legislators have, it’s almost as if they want to plan for the future and make improvements to the state. Imbeciles!

  • John McClaughry

    Kelley makes a good point: that the legislature should think creatively instead of just grabbing millions more in taxes. Now would be a good time for the man who ran for Governor touting “Leadership” to present some creative thinking. (Bonding is not one.) There is some out there waiting to be discovered.

  • Michael O’Neil

    You have to realize that these people don’t have a clue about these issues! Don’t ever confuse electability with intelligence. The biggest polluters can’t be taxed because we are already propping them up with subsidies. Instead of taxing motorcycles, lets see how much we are spending on “sanctuary” related issues and other programs that produce nothing but more problems. Most of us in the real world when faced with a shortfall of money, reduce our spending, not increase it. Not in Vermont, when faced with a drug crisis, the first choice is to try to legalize drugs! Which will create more issues as the same criminals will steal more of your stuff to buy their dope from some legal store. Real forward thinking from the folks who never met someone’s else’s money they didn’t like.

  • Rich Lachapelle

    Justifying the further burdening of the Vermont taxpayer would be more
    palatable if there were actually concrete proposals for what this money
    would ultimately be spent on to solve the problem. If, like with the
    federal Superfund, 2/3 of the money is to be spent on lawyers, that
    will make it a bitter pill to sell to working Vermonters and property
    owners. I have confidence that science can solve this problem but
    elected officials and bureaucrats forcing people to return to an 1820s
    standard of living will not go over well. Money can solve a lot of
    problems, but we should come up with a strategy FIRST, then shake the
    taxpayers down to fund it.

    How about it Montpelier demoprogs, what is actually being proposed to spend all this new revenue on or do we “have to pass this bill to find out what’s in it”?

  • JohnGreenberg

    These comments are tiresome.

    For all those decrying taxes, fees, etc., please tell us: 1) should the lake be cleaned up? and 2) If so, how should we pay for it?

    • Peter Chick

      Let municipalities fix their wastewater systems on their own. They have known of the problem for decades yet refuse to fix it.

      • JohnGreenberg

        Peter Chick:
        Let’s assume that the municipalities DO fix their systems. Since that it is not the only source of the Lake’s problem, you haven’t come close to answering my questions.

        • Allocation of blame/ contributing factors? are you looking for a new TMDL and a new conclusion? John, did you comment in the public phase of the TMDL? submit a written statement?

          • JohnGreenberg

            Eric Neilsen:

            The answer to all of your questions is no.

            In fact, I’m not looking for anything in particular. I’m tired of reading comments which offer no acknowledgement of what clearly IS a problem and no solution.

            I’m sure there are some who don’t believe there is a problem. That’s why I asked the first question.

            For anyone who acknowledges that there IS a problem, it’s blindingly obvious that money will be required for the solution and there needs to be an acknowledgement of that, rather than finger-pointing at politicians who dare to suggest answers. That’s what’s behind my second question.

            And that’s the entirety of my agenda here. I have had little to no involvement in this issue, since I live about as far away from the Lake as one can while remaining in Vermont.

          • John, much like the TMDL itself, answers seems slow in coming. I was away from the feed for a bit. I apologize. Action is what needs to happen and much of that action can indeed cost money. Other action will require very little money but simply a change in farming practices. I am a believer in that money and the bulk of the work being done by those that created the problem.

        • Peter Chick

          It is a start John.

    • Rich Lachapelle

      The other question that needs to be asked is: just how WILL we clean up the lake? We have a nutrient overload that is predominantly the result of farm runoff and the continuous dumping of treated and untreated effluent from sewage treatment plants into it’s tributary rivers. Do we have a plan for how to reduce this nutrient load without seriously affecting our quality of life and our economy?

      • JohnGreenberg

        Rich Lachapelle:

        Thanks for your reply. The questions you’ve added deserve answers.

        • John and Rich,…Seriously,… now there is an interesting word to use. Does it seriously effect your life when you can no longer use a resource without dying? Sure does, so the folks that need to deal with the toxic algae blooms may look at the “Seriousness” a little different. Also those dealing directly with SSOs might look at it differently too.

          • Rich Lachapelle

            Few in this thread are disputing the need for cleanup. We who will be on the hook to pay for it are simply wanting to know how this giant wad of cash will be spent and can we have any reasonable expectation of efficacy?

          • Sorry for the delayed interaction,.. I missed any forwards from the system. I certainly would like to see those actually polluting being held accountable for it. I do understand the all in push by the state, but for those of us, not contributing our amount of in needs to reflect today and tomorrow pollution contribution. A rural and owner with a private well and septic that is functioning properly and gardens enough to eat well, has a different foot print on the ecosystem than a dairy farm for sure.

      • YES, the TMDL that was worked on, and then worked on, and then…. worked on.

    • Michael O’Neil

      No one that I know thinks that cleaning up the lake is not important. However, how do you think that taxing motorcycles that only run part of the year and last I knew didn’t run in the lake should be taxed?? Could it be that someone on the committee has a boat? That would be the logical conclusion. I would imagine that if the state were going to tax your Prius to pay for a gun range in the state you would happily write your check? I am also a little surprised that you find other people’s opinions “tiresome”. Last I knew, free speech was still a right, even in the left coast of New England!ll

      • JohnGreenberg

        Michael O’Neil:

        Your first sentence appears to state that your answer to my first question is
        yes. One down.

        The remainder of your reply inveighs against some specific
        suggestions but does not address my question: how should we pay for the
        cleanup?

        Finally, my suggestion that many of these comments are “tiresome” has 1) nothing whatsoever to do with anyone’s right of free speech and 2) nothing to do with “other people’s opinion.” On the first point, you are
        indeed free to express tiresome opinions; I can’t stop you. My right of free speech gives me the right to
        call them tiresome.

        On the second, let me be more explicit: No one likes to pay taxes; that’s why they’re taxes and not gifts. But if, as you agree, we’re going to have to do certain things as a collective – in this instance, cleaning up the Lake — then we need to pay for it.

        What I find tiresome are discussions which ignore that
        obvious point. If you don’t, that’s absolutely your right.

        • Michael O’Neil

          What you.completly miss is , that if we need to clean up the lake (which we do) and we need to pay for it (which we do) we need a plan that is going actually going to accomplish the cleanup and what the cost is going to be. Then we decide where the money is going to come from. That is where the hard choices come in. Most people when faced with having to put a new roof on their house can’t go out and expect to get money from their neighbors to put on the roof, they adjust their budget to accommodate the need. Problem in VT and elsewhere is that no one wants to adjust the budget. We continue to think that more taxes are the answer. As some others have already pointed out that there are considerable funds that are spent on failing programs that are nothing but reelection insurance. Most responsible citizens understand that taxes are a necessary component of society, and if shown everything that can be done is being done will support the common good. In this instance, that is not the case. Tough choices have to be made and real leadership is needed and whether or no we have it remains to be seen.

          • JohnGreenberg

            Michael O’Neil:

            At last, replies to both queries: we need to clean up the lake and to pay for it.

            From your answers here and below, I gather you prefer to cut spending elsewhere in the budget rather than raising taxes. Fine. But you don’t provide even a slight clue as to WHICH spending we should cut.

            As I said to Kyle Williams immediately below and to Willem Post at the bottom of these comments, proposing unspecified spending cuts gets you precisely nowhere in terms of actually constructing a budget. Neither governors nor legislators have that luxury, and if you’re going to be a responsible critic, then neither should you. Please name the “failing programs that are nothing but reelection
            insurance” and tell us how much money you expect to save by axing them.

            I have pushed here for nothing but transparency and specificity. They’re pretty elementary
            tools in the art of governance, but we seem to have lost both.

            Your roof analogy doesn’t apply: this is OUR roof and OUR budget.

          • Michael O’Neil

            First of all, I’m not an elected official who at election time tells everyone they have an answer, so it’s not my responsibility to decide budget cuts. The state employs highly paid Secretaries and Commissioners who are supposedly knowledgeable about their departments who should be able to reduce their budgets. If they can’t replace them with people who can. Then those folks will have to testify in the legislature ( both house and senate) good luck with that! Having testified on many occasions, the level of understanding of the real world would and should frighten most citizens. That where the real problem lies, if you don’t think so, go online and actually read so of the bills that are proposed by these geniuses. Every sessions they get bogged down in more foolish proposed legislation, never getting to prioritizing the real issues faced by the state. The easy answer is take more money fromtaxpayers and no accountability. Reduce social programs that have spiraled out of control, can’t do that because that will anger some voters and they won’t get re-elected. Even if you or I had a plan that made environmental and fiscal sense but required cutting any of the myriad of social program that someone has already mention in these comments, they would do it. The first answer to any issue is raise a tax or a fee, no such thing as living within your means! The roof analogy certainly is appropriate as how many neighbors would be willing to help pay for that roof when with the owner has two BMWs parked in the driveway. Not many I would guess. The way you respond to

    • Kyle Williams

      A recent article in the Free Press listed State spending for FY2014. VT spent $1.7 billion on public welfare and was 3rd in the nation for spending per person in this category. How about taking $30 million from there, that’s about a 1.8% cut in spending in that area. I suspect with that small a cut, we would still be in the top 10 in spending per person for public welfare.

      • JohnGreenberg

        Kyle Williams:

        Thank you for answering the question. I’m listening.

        Please be more specific by enumerating which programs you would cut and by how much to arrive at the $30 million total.

      • Kyle Williams

        John, with out knowing how much each program costs, it would be hard to be specific. There are 43 different State benefit programs. All great to have if you are receiving these benefits but several of these I wonder about such as #13, #33-35,#38,#40,#41. It also seems there is a lot of overlap of programs. Each of these programs likely have their own Directors and Staff along with their own process for determining eligibility, how about some major consolidations here.

        1) SSI-Related Medicaid General
        2) Medicare Savings Programs (MSP)
        3) Working Persons with Disabilities (WPWD)
        4) Breast or Cervical Cancer Treatment (BCCT)
        5) Disabled Child in Home Care (DCHC – Katie Beckett)
        6) Long Term Care (LTC) Medicaid (Choices for Care)
        7) VPharm
        8) Healthy Vermonters Program (HVP)
        9) Family Planning Option
        10) Money Follows the Person (MFP)
        11) Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA)
        12) Foster Children (Medicaid Title IV-E and non IV-E)
        13) Ladies First
        14) Community Rehabilitation and Treatment (CRT)
        15) General Assistance and Emergency Assistance (healthcare processes only)
        16) Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) Part C – Early Intervention
        17) Children with Special Health Needs (CSHN)
        18) Level I Psychiatric Covered Services
        19) Vermont Medication Assistance Program (VMAP)
        20) HIV Dental Care Assistance Program (DCAP)
        21) HIV Insurance Continuation Assistance Program (ICAP)
        22) DOC Hospitalization (Medicaid Coverage)
        23) MAGI-Medicaid
        24) Dr. Dynasaur
        25) Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
        26) Health Insurance Premium Program (HIPP)
        27) Disability Determination Services (DDS)
        28) 3SquaresVT (SNAP; formerly Food Stamps)
        29) General Assistance (GA)
        30) Emergency Assistance (EA)
        31) Fuel Assistance (LIHEAP)
        32) Crisis Fuel Assistance
        33) Reach Up (TANF)
        34) Reach First
        35) Reach Ahead
        36) Post-Secondary Education (PSE)
        37) Phone Assistance (Lifeline)
        38) Essential Person (EP)
        39) Vermont Rental Subsidy
        40) Farm to Family
        41) Weatherization Program
        42) Child Care Financial Assistance
        43) Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

        • David Bell

          So, you have no idea what specifically you want to cut, nor what effect cutting would have, but it is the only way we can go about paying for a needed cleanup?

    • Craig Powers

      What’s tiresome is the constant cry for more taxes and fees on Vermonters to fix everything deemed to be broken, damaged, or a human right these days.

      I would argue that there is probably many laws already on the books about polluting Lake Champlain that are not enforced (think leaky septic systems and farm run-off) by some VT Agency that has already been funded by taxes….yet they ask for more and more.

      • JohnGreenberg

        Craig Powers:

        Since you wrote this as a reply to me, please note that I didn’t call for more taxes and fees. I asked how to pay for the cleanup.

        It’s a reasonable (indeed, obvious) question, and you haven’t answered it.

        • Craig Powers

          John Greenberg:

          Read my post again. The answer is right there. Are you just ignoring it or do you not understand what I wrote?

          • David Bell

            So, some law you think is on the books but don’t actually know the details of (or even if it exists) will allow the state to pay for cleanup with fines?

            Not exactly an airtight plan.

          • Craig Powers

            In the case of leaky septic systems and farm run off, they should be fined if they are polluting. That $$$ should go towards clean up. How about our legislature looking into what is already in place (if there is any) instead of just raising taxes? that is my point.

          • David Bell

            “How about our legislature looking into what is already in place (if there is any) instead of just raising taxes?”

            What makes you assume they have not done so?

            So far, your argument consists of insisting some laws which you think are on the books but do not know the specifics of (or really that they exist at all) can be used to fine specific groups of individuals for some amount you believe to be sufficient to pay for the clean up.

            Still not an airtight plan.

          • JohnGreenberg

            Craig Powers:

            You’re right: I don’t understand what you wrote.

            Are the “probably many laws already on the books about polluting Lake Champlain that are not enforced” supposed to provide cleanup funds? How exactly?

            Or are you suggesting that these laws which “probably” exist would, if enforced, make the future problem smaller? If so, wouldn’t it be a good start to see if there ARE such laws or not and if there are to enumerate them, call out the agencies involved, etc.?

    • Dan DeCoteau

      Perhaps taxes, fees etc. don’t hurt your financial status. For the majority of Vermonters more for the state means less for them and their families. It’s not like we are under taxed as a state!

      • JohnGreenberg

        Dan DeCoteau:

        Whether taxes hurt my financial status is totally irrelevant. For one thing, I made no call for either.

        For another, your reply doesn’t answer the simple, direct questions I asked: should we clean up the Lake, and if so, how should we pay for it.

        Whether we’re over or under taxed doesn’t constitute an answer to either question.

        • JustinTurco

          I like what Willem Post said. Cut costs elsewhere to raise the money. But maybe we shouldn’t clean up the lake. I am suspicious how that money will be spent. Better that we stop the things from occurring that caused the problem. Then maybe the problems go away on their own. Too bad about the zebra mussels though. That isn’t going away.

          • David Bell

            So, maybe cut programs (no clue which, just something somewhere), or maybe don’t even bother cleaning it up at all?

            Can you at least decide on one of those two?

          • JustinTurco

            I don’t need to. Because either one would NOT raise taxes. But if I had to pick David, I’d say I’d like to see costs cuts somewhere to pay for the lake cleanup. It would really impress me to see our state cut spending somewhere …I don’t care where….to be able to afford something else that they want more.

          • David Bell

            “I don’t need to. Because either one would NOT raise taxes.”

            So, your only criteria for this is that taxes do not go up? Does this apply to everything or just lake cleanup?

          • JustinTurco

            Pretty much everything except infrastructure.

    • David Bell

      Amazing reading responses to your comment, a lot of anger directed at you, and not one specific proposal.

      The closest was someone claiming some spending somewhere, particularly if it benefits the poor, should be done.

      • There is a sacred cow running around these parts that gets a big pass. AG department and the ALL in approach. We can’t kill the cow, not that I am advocating for it, but BMPs for farmers need to be implemented. I’d love to see developers required to get their shi&^%& together first too. Past and future developers? The problem didn’t show up over night and it’s not going to get fixed over night.

      • JohnGreenberg

        Thanks David. I guess I’d understand this better if I were making a complicated suggestion here. I’ve asked two pretty elementary questions and gotten a lot of evasion (and some anger and ad hominem argument) as a response.

        This doesn’t say much for the level of discourse here, does it?

    • Michael O’Neil

      Cutting the current budget is a proposal, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, people are tired of sending money to the state when there is nothing to show for it. As someone said, take a look at what has been wasted by the state on, for example the GMO boondoggle. That wasted money could have been a good start toward helping the lake. Everyone has known for years that there has been a problem and where is the plan? Nowhere to be seen, but ask any legislator (anyone who isn’t asleep) how to legalize marijuana or protecting illegal aliens and they will quote chapter and verse about how to make it work, but no idea how to solve the lake problem.

      • David Bell

        “Cutting the current budget is a proposal”

        Not really. It is the start of a direction for a proposal at best. Until you start providing specifics it is a general idea. Much like saying “raising taxes from the current rates” is not a proposal until you specify what taxes are to be raised and by how much.

        What I find most interesting is that the people who argue vehemently for cutting the current budget as a solution to nearly any problem are often the first to balk at the very notion that anything in the budget they benefit from could conceivably be cut.

    • John Poratti

      We’ve spent millions of dollars over many years mostly on studies. Green algae blooms are no better now than they were 10 years ago.

  • Dave Silberman

    “Jason Gibbs, Scott’s chief of staff, has said the governor wants to use state bonding capacity to pay for cleanup. ”

    RIGHT! Because if you use bonds, you don’t have to use tax money!

    Until you have to use tax money to pay the bonds back.

    Yet more kicking the can down the road by Governor “I’m Not Saying Never, I’m Saying Not Now”.

  • From my perspective the entities that should pay for the Lake clean up pollution that is due to agricultural run-off are Cabot, Ben and Jerry’s, Hood etc. Those are the companies that have been generating huge and unjust profits by paying Vermont’s struggling dairy farmers ridiculously low prices for the milk they produce. Back in the 1990s we did a study of Ben and Jerry’s profits for one year and found that their net profits were equal to the difference between what Ben and Jerry’s paid the farmers for their milk and what it actually cost the farmers to produce it. They and the other dairy processors and manufacturers have been ripping off dairy farmers for decades. Make them pay! It is only fair!

  • Sally Cook

    Those of us who live on the eastern side of the state are not part of the Lake Champlain watershed area. We (towns on both VT + NH sides of the Conn. River) have spent tons of money cleaning up the Conn. River (David Deen knows that) with no help from Chittenden Cty, where the state’s wealth resides. Try getting more $ from NY + Canada.

  • Pete Novick

    Here’s a 24-second clip from President George H.W. Bush, whose rating as a president, among many of the most distinguished presidential scholars, continues to edge up, like the value a blue chip stock:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MW44jsYi0g

    Don’t have 24 seconds to spare? Here you go:

    “Read my lips. No new taxes.”

    Tens of thousands of Vermonters are trapped. Take a look at how many single family homes have been on the market for more than a year. Many of the sellers include people either retired or nearing retirement, and they just want out.

    Here’s a screenshot from Zillow for Wilmington:

    https://www.zillow.com/homes/for_sale/Wilmington-VT/house,townhouse_type/7958_rid/2-_baths/50000-400000_price/190-1520_mp/pricea_sort/42.939208,-72.742196,42.813914,-72.982178_rect/11_zm/2_p/

    A 1200 sq. ft. saltbox on half acre for $300K? Who are we kidding?

    $300K buys you a decent home in Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Des Moines, Topeka, and many other mid-sized cities which all share one characteristic Vermont doesn’t have: they all have healthy and growing economies and good jobs.

    Here’s today’s job board listing more than 2,000 jobs in Pittsburgh from one site:

    http://www.careerbuilder.com/jobs-in-pittsburgh,pa

    Stop taxing us.

    Please.

    And who knows? The Pirates might win the pennant this year.

  • Willem Post

    This was a well known problem during the Shumlin years, but legislators were too busy raising taxes year after year for setting up subsidized government programs that benefited selected constituencies, which likely vote Democrat year after year; a way of staying in power.

    For 6 years, the state budget grew at a compounded 5.25% per year, much faster then private sector growth; essentially a recipe for stagnant growth.

    Scott is absolutely right to demand an alternative approach to raising taxes, which is long overdue. It is called government COST CUTTING and sunsetting programs.

    The savings to clean up the Lake have to come out of existing government operations.

    That would make the government less of a burden on the private sector, and would leave money to clean up Lake Champlain, etc.

    It might even get the Vermont economy growing again.

    • David Bell

      “It might even get the Vermont economy growing again.”

      Or, conversely, hurt the economy and contribute to greater budget problems, thus failing to result in the money needed to pay for cleanup.

      • Willem Post

        David,

        When inefficiency is reduced in an economy, it will improve conditions and outcomes,

        Governments are very inefficient. They perform necessary functions ponderously, but they need to be kept as small as possible.

        • David Bell

          Willem,

          “Governments are very inefficient. They perform necessary functions ponderously, but they need to be kept as small as possible.”

          This statement is not consistent with available data.

          Government run healthcare programs have repeatedly been shown to be more efficient than private sector equivalents. There is no evidence that private prisons result in better or more efficient outcomes.

          Overall their is no international correlation let alone demonstrable causation between size of government and overall wealth, efficiency or GDP growth.

          At best you can say some government functions are less efficient than private sector equivalents.

    • JohnGreenberg

      Willem:
      “Scott is absolutely right to demand an alternative approach to raising
      taxes, which is long overdue. It is called government COST CUTTING and
      sunsetting programs.”

      Great! Which programs? Which cuts? Which sunsets?

      As far as I can tell, Scott’s not answering those questions and neither is anyone else here. How do you expect any of this to happen if no one can be specific?

      • Willem Post

        John,

        There are all these legislators, who have no problem being imaginative SETTING UP government subsidized programs and getting federal subsidies and more taxes, fees and surcharges to pay for them, but all of a sudden they lack imagination to ELIMINATE or REDUCE programs?

        Where there is a will, there is a way. They do not want to, and they want to obstruct Scott, a very reasonable, fair-minded person.

        I would start by eliminating Efficiency Vermont and wipe $60 million/y of surcharges off the electric bills of already-struggling ratepayers.

        Then, I would eliminate the Broadcast TV Fee $6.50, and the Regional Sports Fee $5.00, off my telephone bill. Both charges were recently increased. I called the telephone company and it told me they are state government mandated.

        Where is the benefit to the economy of Vermont?

        • JohnGreenberg

          Willem:

          You suggest 3 changes. None of them would provide any funds state government. Consequently, removing these fees would not provide a penny for cleaning up Lake Champlain.

          The merits of your suggested changes have no relevance to this discussion, so I won’t delve into them.