4-27-15 – The Carolina Cage Match: Peter Shumlin Versus Rational Public Policy

by Chris Campion

Having recently moved my waffle franchise south to a place the locals here call “North Carolina”, I thought it would be interesting to perform that most agonizing of middle-school tasks: Compare and Contrast.  But to make it more interesting – and possibly more telling, we’re going to give the C&C treatment to the economies of Vermont and North Carolina. I’m picturing this as kind of a Goofus and Gallant deconstruction of public policy.  If  you happen to assume that Peter Shumlin is the Goofus in this scenario, well, that’s up to you.

A Quick Tax Policy Comparison:

North Carolina:  In 2014, North Carolina recently dropped its income tax rate, and completely flat-lined it. Where they had three brackets before (ranging from 6.0 to 7.75 percent), there is now one single rate of 5.75% on all income levels (actually down .05% from 5.8% in 2014; is there no end to this tax rate reduction madness?).

Vermont:  In 2014, and now in 2015, the governor’s office and the state legislature seem to spend the bulk of their time trying to find new things to tax, and to scratch their heads as to why income tax revenues are not matching the governor’s rosy budget outlooks.  In August of 2014, two months after the state’s budget was passed, the legislature was called back into session to cut the budget they had just said was needed for Vermont’s economic well being.

Pat McCrory, governor of North Carolina, just submitted his 2015-2017 budget.  The overview says a lot about what’s different between the two states:

No tax increases?  Gasp!

This is somewhat different than Shumlin’s plans for 2015 (at least as of December 2014):

The Shumlin administration has already announced that property taxes are set to rise by 2 cents to $1.00 per $100 of assessed value for homeowners and $1.54 for non-residential properties in 2015. And, Speaker of the House, Shap Smith has indicated that he would like to shift more of the $1.5 billion education budget onto the income tax as part of education finance reform.

Also on the front burner for the 2015 legislative session is a $250 million carbon tax, which would translate into a 45¢ to $1.35 tax on every gallon of gasoline, and something similar for home heating fuel.

In every instance, the only solution is more cowbell, er, taxes.  North Carolina is cutting specific taxes on income, gasoline, etc – the taxes that most directly impact the taxpayers’ bottom lines.

What’s Vermont doing?  The opposite.  And has been, for a long time, with Shumlin doubling down on the same policies that are both bankrupting Vermonters and the state.  A quick snapshot shows the difference between Goofus and Gallant:

Vermont tax rates at a glance:

Look at those glorious job-creating rates shine!

North Carolina tax rates at a glance:

There's a reason people move here.

Change in unemployment rate from March 2014 to March 2015 (hint:  Vermont’s change is statistically insignificant):


A 1% decrease versus a 0% change.  Hmm.  More cowbell, then?

Finally, let’s take a quick look at state spending, by category, and per capita (strap in):

Vermont at a glance:


Vermont Spending dollars and percent

North Carolina at a glance:

NC Spending dollars and percent

Finally, let’s look at the net result of these policies, in terms of job growth.  From January 2014 to January 2015, Vermont’s total employment gain was 1.3%.  North Carolina’s?  2.6%.

At least Vermont got the hard work done on determining the appropriate levels at which to tax soda, though.  So that's something.

Because Shumlin has clearly demonstrated he has trouble with math (unless he’s happily underpaying a neighbor to buy his property without

advising said neighbor that he could have gotten relief on his outstanding property tax bill due to his income level, but I digress), I’ll clarify this for him:

North Carolina is doing better than Vermont.  By some numbers, North Carolina is doing twice as good as Vermont is, in terms of creating jobs.  Jobs are what provide tax revenues, not soda purchases.

But when you spend most of your life under a dome that is golden, you don’t really need to see or even try to understand what’s going on outside of the box you’ve happily put yourself into.  Because to do so would point out, at klaxon-alarm-levels of loudness, that you’re killing Vermont’s economy, and with it, the livelihood of all Vermonters.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Alex Knight April 27, 2015 at 10:48 pm

This is what happens when you place your faith in government as a vehicle for “progress” and “solutions.” It’s a sucker’s game and always has been.




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