Switzerland is famous for its national referenda, whereby current issues adopted by the legislature are put out for voter approval. Last week the Swiss voted on a proposed law that would have hiked taxes on gasoline, diesel fuel, heating oil and natural gas, and used the funds to reduce public health insurance premiums and fund green technologies and building efficiency improvements. This is essentially the current Vermont Global Warming Solutions Act strategy, with some health insurance subsidies added in to broaden its support.
Vermont’s 14 counties expect to receive $121 million ARPA federal stimulus funding, in proportion to their population. As discussed in a recent blog post, this will cause problems because Vermont’s county workers are few in number, without much experience in allocating federal dollars.
The 2021 legislative session started out looking good for state pension reform. The Treasurer and Speaker of the House were talking loudly that fixes had to be made to the teachers’ and municipal employees pension and benefits programs as their unfunded liabilities were racing toward the $6 billion mark. They put forward the outlines of a potential plan.
America has just celebrated a new national holiday, June 19 (“Juneteenth”). It was the date in 1865 when a Union general arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce that slavery had been abolished in America. Actually three quarters of the states, many of them with Federally-controlled governments, did not ratify the Thirteenth Amendment that abolished slavery until almost six months later, but let’s overlook that.
Some Vermont counties are set to get more money from the federal government in one year than they have gotten from Vermont taxpayers in the 21st century. Part of the Covid stimulus package involves the federal government allocating billions in ARPA stimulus funding to counties across the US, according to each county’s share of the U.S. population. Vermont’s counties are set to get $121 million directly funded to them. For reference, Vermont’s Legislature recently allocated $80 million of ARPA funding, despite some vocal disagreement from Governor Scott.
In the legislative session that just concluded, lawmakers passed H.171 nearly unanimously (30-0 in the Senate and 146-1 in the House). The bill, crafted and pushed by the special interest group Let’s Grow Kids, is about expanding taxpayer-funded, government-run preschool programs for kids aged zero to five. Sounds nice. The price tag – and the consequences for thousands of families and hundreds of small businesses – will be massive.
When the Georgetown Climate Center released its final proposal for the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI) last December, it was a bit of a fizzle for advocates of the de facto regional Carbon Tax scheme as only three of the thirteen (plus D.C.) negotiating states agreed to sign on: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Now there are two.
On May 14, the House passed JRH.6 a “Joint resolution relating to racism as a public health emergency.” The resolution draftees claim Covid-19 is a public health emergency which has worsened and exposed the racism emergency.
On May 21, Sen. Chris Pearson (P-Chittenden) testified about H.157 on the Senate floor. H.157 would require that residential contractors register with the state of Vermont, and pay a fee for the privilege for doing so.
A number of Vermont media outlets recently covered two dueling meetings in Essex over Critical Race Theory and what it means for public education. One meeting in the Grange Hall – “an audience of more than 100”, according to Seven Days – opposed how race was being discussed in schools. Across the street “The 40 or so participants” in a counter-rally expressed the opposite view.