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.
The Vermont Council on Rural Development has released a first draft of “the Vermont Proposition”, a vision for Vermont’s future. Imagine what you would get if you assembled a dozen of the most high-minded, most sincere, most politically correct liberals in the state, who as liberals are not at all hesitant to use the power of government to make sure everyone falls in line with the grand Vision. You would expect them to produce something very much like the Vermont Proposition.
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.
The 2020 Census numbers for Vermont indicate that our little state grew by about 20,000 people over the past decade, or +2.8%. We also know that within Vermont our overall population has been migrating toward the northwest region of the state (Chittenden, Franklin and Lamoille Counties), and away from the south and east. Moreover, there is a legislative mandate to break up the six-member Chittenden senate district (currently Chittenden County minus Colchester and Huntington/Buels Gore). All of these factors point to a legislative district map in 2022 that could look very different from the ones Vermonters have used, not just since 2012, but for many decades past.
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.