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.
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.
The new Democratic House of Representatives organized itself this week, and James Freeman of the Wall Street Journal reports that one notable achievement was gutting the existing and not very effective spending controls.
After the Detroit riots following the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, an umbrella organization of racial justice groups called Will Breathe Detroit sued the city last August, arguing that its police officers repeatedly responded to protesters with violence.
Yes, we saw this coming and here it is! Many, including us at EAI, have quipped over the last nine months that if you like the Covid economy, you’ll love the Green New Deal/Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA)/Etc. Well, now Rep. Curt McCormack (D-Burlington, and chair of the House Transportation Committee) penned an op-ed, “Winning the climate and Covid wars with WWII tactics,” in which he argues, “If the Covid-19 pandemic can reduce our carbon emissions in one month by the same amount as we need to reduce per year, 7%, to avoid catastrophic climate change, can we not do this on purpose [emphasis added], in an orderly well-planned fashion?”
If you had to predict which state’s businesses were most likely to rebound post-Covid, you would be hard pressed to bet on Vermont. Vermont business owners (especially a certain 6,067 of them) are burdened with a state government that has been exceedingly more cautious than other states in allowing businesses to operate.
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!
2020 was an unprecedented year. From Covid-19 outbreaks, to entire swaths of the economy shut down, to peaceful/violent protests, we saw a little bit of everything. And while their may seem to be more bad news than good this year, the tail end of 2020 has brought hope with a Covid-19 vaccine. As we yearn to turn the calendar to January, it may help us to reflect on the most meaningful cultural and political events of 2020, to make us wiser for the future decisions we will make in 2021.
Here are the top 10 posts of 2020 from the EAI Blog. We look forward to connecting with you on the Blog in 2021!
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.