Rob Roper, John McClaughry and David Flemming write 40+ commentaries a year discussing the most pressing public policy issues in Vermont. These are published online and in newspapers throughout the state, including VT Digger, the Caledonian Record, the Rutland Herald, the St. Albans Messenger, the Bennington Banner, Vermont Biz, TrueNorthReports, Times Argus, the Eagle Times and Vermont Daily. If you see an EAI commentary in your local newspaper, shoot us an email! And if you don't see our commentaries in your local papers, let your newspaper editors know.

Commentary: Retirement Fund Blues

Vermont’s state employee and teacher retirement funds, plus their associated Other Post Employment Benefit obligations, now total $5.657 billion – a Billion dollar increase in just the past year. The pension funds are just 66.4% and 52.3% funded, respectively. The clock is ticking toward calamity, including downgrading the state’s credit ratings.

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Commentary: Candid Comments Reveal Illogic Behind Vermont’s Climate Policy

Responding to an email inquiry from a concerned citizen about the real impact – and cost -- of the Global Warming Solutions Act, passed last spring over the veto of Governor Phil Scott (R), Representative Scott Campbell (D-St. Johnsbury) admitted, “Let me start by repeating that no one, least of all me, believes Vermont can stop climate change — or even affect climate change.  It’s tempting to focus on that narrow issue because of the specific metrics in the law, namely the required greenhouse gas reduction thresholds (leaving aside the unfortunate name of the Act),” and, “GWSA will not ‘mitigate’ climate change…” Thanks for the honesty!

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Commentary: Goodbye to TCI

On December 21 Gov. Phil Scott bailed out of the proposed 12-state Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), at least for 2021.  Only three of the twelve hoped-for state participants have agreed to implement TCI (Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island). Eight others, including Vermont, agree to keep on meeting, talking and negotiating, but the process is likely on life support. The twelfth state, New Hampshire, wants nothing to do with TCI.

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Commentary: Meet Your New Climate Government

Meet Your new Climate Government:  The Global Warming Solutions Act, enacted over Gov. Scott’s veto, establishes a 23-member Vermont Climate Council to create a Plan directing state agencies to adopt rules to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Fourteen of the 15 legislative appointees are screened and true climate activists. They outnumber the administration appointees, and the lone  fuel sector member,  14-9.  Hold on to your wallet.

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Commentary: TCI Looks DOA

The Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI), referring to the organization itself rather than the policy, has put off publication of their final proposal for a multi-state, regional carbon tax on gasoline and diesel fuel for well over half a year. Originally, they promised to release it in the spring of 2020, then hinted at summer, and are currently operating under a promise to do so this fall – a window rapidly closing. Presumably, the delays are part of a strategy to hold off until a politically opportune time. It doesn’t appear such a time will ever transpire. Increasingly, TCI looks dead on arrival.

The latest blow comes from Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, who, up until a very short time ago, was TCI’s biggest cheerleader. But now, according to the Boston Herald, “Gov. Charlie Baker said governors are re-evaluating support of a controversial carbon tax designed to limit greenhouse gas emissions….”

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Commentary: Combating “Welfare for the Rich”

A new book “Welfare for the Rich” explains the many ways that government policies benefit the rich, leaving the not-rich to hold the bag. We need to “raise the hue and cry” to put a stop to it.

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Commentary: Elections Over, Challenges Ahead

The 2021 legislature faces major challenges on Fiscal Worries, Revenue Shortfalls, Retirement Fund Deterioration, and Electric Grid Challenges, but the governor surely won‘t launch a much needed Performance Review.

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Commentary: Early Voting Is Bad for Democracy

Every day there is a new announcement from the Vermont Secretary of State’s office proudly proclaiming how many people have cast their ballots weeks before election day on November 3rd. As I’m writing this opening paragraph that number is about 150,000. By the time I reach the end the number will likely be much higher. This is not a good thing. It’s certainly nothing to be proud of.

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Commentary: False Alarm, The Supreme Court and the Affordable Care Act

U.S Senate Democrats are claiming that a conservative Supreme Court will end Obamacare coverage for 20 million Americans. This is shameless fearmongering. The horrors they so stridently predict will simply not materialize.

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Commentary: Vermont, the Only State Seeing No Need for Election Safeguards

By avoiding best practices in a vote-by-mail effort practiced in other states, our Secretary of State Jim Condos is opening Vermont up to questions of electoral fraud.

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