President Biden did a pretty good job on his inaugural address. His theme was unity, and his speechwriters decorated it with lots of good words like hope, truth, honor, respect, tolerance, goodness, faith, and of course democracy. He also listed half a dozen of the great causes he intends to address, which left me a bit apprehensive.
The Vermont Tax Structure Commission released its 180 page draft report to the legislature, and one of the major recommendations it makes is to expand Vermont’s 6% sales tax, currently limited to goods and a few singled out services such as ski rentals, to everything but healthcare, and to reduce the overall rate to 3.6%.
The Peterson Foundation, that tracks government spending, recently came up with a surprising result.
There was more testimony in the virtual State House this week about the recent election, this time in the House Government Operations Committee, from several Town Clerks. Though the bulk of their comments were positive, a number of clear and present dangers regarding mail in voting and fraud were exposed in the questioning.
Three weeks ago I wrote a commentary titled “Goodbye to TCI”, the Transportation and Climate Initiative. Only three of the intended 12 state governors agreed to sign on to this regional gas and diesel fuel tax scheme. Gov. Scott was a notable non-signer, because he didn’t see much merit in slapping motor fuel taxes on Vermonters in the middle of a pandemic.
At the January 14 meeting of the Senate Government Operations Committee, Senator Brian Collamore (R-Rutland) asked Vermont Director of Elections, Will Senning, about a woman arrested for election fraud in Texas. The story in question involved on Raquel Rodriquez who was caught engaging in "election fraud, illegal voting, unlawfully assisting people voting by mail and unlawfully possessing an official ballot.” Collamore wanted to know if similar actions, if they occurred in Vermont, could be detected and prosecuted.
The Public Assets Institute (PAI) recently released a report, “The State of Working Vermont 2020.” It provides a good overall picture of the economic stagnation Vermont has experienced over the past several decades.
For 40 years, Vermont created an average of 4,700 new jobs a year. The best year, 1978, saw an increase of more than 12,000 new jobs. But after the turn of the century, job growth flattened. Vermont employers averaged fewer than 1,000 new jobs a year between 2000 and 2019. The high point was 2012, when 3,800 jobs were added.