Earlier this month the Scott Administration released the Report of the Governor’s Commission on the Future of Agriculture. The Report is well-written and constructive, but for many people seriously concerned with this subject, it is likely to be a disappointment.
This year, the tri-partisan Legislative Apportionment Board (LAB) recommended that the Vermont legislature re-draw house and senate district boundaries (we do this every ten years following the census) so that there would be 150 single member house districts and 30 single member senate districts. This would be a change from Vermont’s current mishmash of one- and two-member house districts and one-, two-, three- and six-member senate districts.
Some years ago, faced with the many competing spending demands before the Senate, I would say “all this state needs is a diamond mine”. That is, with an inexhaustible supply of dollars in the till, all worthwhile projects and programs could be funded - and a quite a few that weren’t worthwhile – without laying higher taxes on our voters.
When we talk about Vermont’s nearly $6 billion unfunded liability, most of us think about the teachers’ and state employees’ pensions. But these two giant liabilities only account for half of the state’s total unfunded liabilities. Where’s the other half?
On January 5 Gov. Phil Scott delivered an upbeat State of the State message. He declared that though Vermont has many unmet needs - his leading example was a “desperate need for more people and workers.” - “anything is possible”.
A dozen years ago, a Vermont pension reform committee recommended that the state look into switching the way it structures its pension plans for new hires in the future.
The Department of Public Service has just released its 2022 Comprehensive Energy Plan (CEP). Aside from the “stakeholders”, it’s probably fair to say that very few Vermonters - and very few of their legislators – will be able to penetrate the CEP’s acronym-ridden complexities.
A key component of the Climate Action Plan just put forward by the Vermont Climate Council is a thing they’re calling “The Clean Heat Standard.” This is a convoluted scheme that is in practice a stealth tax on home heating oil, propane, natural gas, and kerosene that will drive up the costs of those products for consumers.
Imagine you have a mortgage. When you close on your house, the bank gives you a schedule of payments that you’ll have to make each month to pay down the principal and interest. After 15, or 20, or 30 years of fixed payments, the mortgage will be paid off.