6-10-15 – Shumlin’s Decision Means Taxes And Gun Rights Will Be the Issue in 2016

by Rob Roper

Peter Shumlin’s decision not to run for a fourth term has lots of people on all sides of the political spectrum shouting hooray. The man had a unique ability to upset just about everyone. Conservatives think he is way too liberal for pushing government healthcare, government preschool, and government subsidized renewable energy. Liberals think he’s way too conservative for not supporting higher taxes on “the rich”, balking at the gargantuan price tag of single payer healthcare, and “holding the line” on state spending growth at just three times the rate of inflation rather than… well, there seems to be no limit as to what the Left wants.

And this is what the 2016 policy debate will be largely about – should Vermont significantly raise taxes to support significantly more spending, or not?

Though I will never call Peter Shumlin a fiscal conservative – no one who even momentarily considered the kinds of tax increases and power overreach necessary to for his government takeover of healthcare can ever be called a fiscal conservative – he did firmly oppose several other significant taxes that will now be on the table.

  1. Expanding Vermont’s sales tax to include services. Shumlin, who comes from a town bordering sales-tax-free New Hampshire, has firmly opposed this idea, noting that it will put Vermont service businesses at a serious disadvantage and drive more jobs across the Connecticut River. Speaker of the House Shap Smith, one of those considering a run for governor, is a lead proponent of expanding the sales tax.
  1. Higher Income Tax Rates. Here again, Shumlin has been a reliable opponent of increases. Anthony Polina, a Progressive reported to be considering a run for governor, is the lead proponent of increasing income tax rates.
  1. The Carbon Tax. This year the House Energy Committee laid the groundwork for a Carbon Tax on Vermonters that would grow over time to be $700 million annually (including a $1.35 surcharge on gasoline). Peter Shumlin opposes this tax on the state level, though has said it’s a good idea on the federal level. Not exactly firm opposition, but opposition.

The other hot issue for 2016 will be Second Amendment Rights. Shumlin has been a stalwart supporter of gun rights, even in the face of a well-financed and organized assault by GunSenseVT. A new governor more in line with the Bloomberg position could be a game changer.

Peter Shumlin’s governed with one side of the floodgates open and the other half closed. His stepping down is certainly an opportunity to make things better in Vermont. It also raises the possibility that things could get a whole lot worse.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Bob Smitton June 11, 2015 at 8:56 pm

Flip flopping on 2A issues does not make him a supporter of gun rights. Quite the opposite really.


Mark Shepard June 13, 2015 at 2:58 pm

Shumlin may be hoping a true socialist/progressive follows him, because that is about the only thing that could improve his legacy. Legacy is about comparisons and having something much worse to compare against would be quite a boon for Shumlin.


jim bulmer June 13, 2015 at 10:40 pm

All I can offer is GOOD RIDDANCE!!!! The guy is a disaster.


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