Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Vermont Plays Scrooge with State Budget

Tom Pelham, a former budget leader, calls the Vermont budget "skating on thin ice." But with his personal blinders on, Pelham never bothers to explain the reality of U.S./VT gross product placed into government hands for needed investments and services on average amounts to 8.8% less than the typical developed nation (Wall Street Journal June 13). Yes, Mr. Pelham really preaches the Scrooge message echoed by the Vermont Legislature and Governor Scott that we have empty pockets with only crumbs left for those in need as we slowly cut back--not expand--on the needs of our residents. Yes, the U.S. and Vermont--among the wealthiest in the world if not number one--remains a cheapskate when it comes to spending on citizens needs.  The only growth since the 1980s in household economics?  Growing inequality!  
How much a cheapskate Vermont State governmental expenditures? Well, 8.8% of our gross state product (GSP) of about $30 billion comes out to $2.4 billion a year additional in our State General Fund budget, the amount a typical nation in our league might devote to the public sector in services and investments.  Our current tax revenue for the General Fund for the upcoming budget (if ever passed!) amounts to $1.8 billion for FY 2018.  Add 8.8% more of gross state product--$2.7 billion--and you get to more than double, over $4 billion in the General Fund for Governor Scott and the Legislature to apply to Vermont needs.  In reality, that extra $2.4 billion (remember that figure only gets to the average developed nation government spending!)--would get allocated among the federal, State and local governments.

Of course we need tax reform and more taxes at the same time on the well-to-do, luxury goods, etc.--that is the message of Public Assets led "One Vermont" plan endorsed by the Council of Vermont Elders (COVE) an others this year--a recognition we are more Scrooge than just about any nation on earth (or state)! Bah, humbug Tom Pelham, Governor Scott and the Vermont Legislature!