Free the Vermont Economy

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The Vermont economy is sickly, and declining fast. The situation is getting worse, not better, and the problem is not the Vermont economy — it is Vermont’s bloated state government. Taxes and regulations oppress both taxpayers and business owners: THAT is the greatest problem facing Vermont’s economy.

An aging population, weak credit ratings, fleeing workers, underfunded state pension system, overly expensive schools, and stifling business climate all exert pressure on the Vermont economy. Vermont’s economy requires that the Vermont government become more economical — fiscally disciplined, responsive to businesses, less wasteful and inefficient.

John Klar’s #1 priority is to make government serve the Vermont economy, rather than siphon off wealth and opportunity to serve a runaway bureaucracy. The greatest benefit to Vermont’s economy is not more government-“funded” programs, “incentives,” or taxes — it is for Vermonters to be liberated from such constraints to GROW THE VERMONT ECONOMY.

Government programs require taxes for funding. Taxes arise from profits and incomes, which are created only by a productive, innovative Vermont economy. The more problems government creates, the more the Vermont economy suffers — then the out-of-control bloated bureaucracy declares it will “fix” the Vermont economy it damaged.

The EB-5 fiasco damaged Vermont’s economy, especially the Northeast Kingdom. Escalating administrative expenses in healthcare, school consolidation, and government agencies have damaged the Vermont economy even further. Mismanagement of pension funds and deferred road repairs damage the Vermont economy. The situation is rapidly deteriorating: increased crime, opioid abuse, and homelessness make our state less attractive to businesses and new residents. In a vicious cycle that undermines Vermont’s economy.

If the national economic climate deteriorates, the Vermont economy — which has already been left behind — will suffer disproportionately. How will Vermont businesses improve Vermont’s economy in difficult times when they have been hampered in a time of national growth? The “bloated dome” in Montpelier is hampering the Vermont economy from being “Vermont Strong” in hard times.

John Klar has specific goals to strengthen Vermont’s economy. His strategy entails identifying the greatest problem areas of government spending, then bringing people together with special skills in those areas to craft solutions. Vermont’s economy cannot afford delay in addressing these key areas — the longer the state continues down roads of failure, the greater the drag on the Vermont economy and the more difficult it will be to change course.

Specific areas identified include

  • underfunded state pensions. Teachers and state workers have a right to be paid what they have been promised. Underfunding creates deferred liabilities for benefits and healthcare that have already swollen to become one of the largest drags on the Vermont economy. Such poor stewardship threatens future constraints on government budgets, as well as ever-increasing taxes which will burden the Vermont economy.
  • exploding school administration expenses. Vermont’s economy ultimately bears the costs of education: businesses that produce goods and services will struggle to be competitive in national and international markets as these costs rise. Vermont’s school costs are the second highest in the nation, as a function of median income. These costs continue to increase annually, despite school consolidation, declining student enrollment, and deteriorating student performance. The state is paying more and more for less and less. Schools close, bureaucracy grows.
  • promoting small farms. It is folly to shift Vermont’s economy from agriculture to tourism. The greatest hurdle preventing profitability for Vermont farmers is not market access: it is unduly high real estate taxes. Vermont’s regulatory constraints, and budgetary pressures, swell each year even as the number of dairy farms diminishes. Farms close, bureaucracy grows.
  • healthcare costs. Promises of better healthcare provision have not been met. The current experiment with OneCare Vermont has been touted as a “preventive” state-wide plan that has expanded centralized dominance by a huge administrative structure, while reducing patient care and frustrating physicians and nurses. Vermont’s mental health facilities are in crisis, and many rural hospitals are struggling to remain viable. Meanwhile, the state argues that it will require five years of massive spending to determine whether OneCare is even effective. Hospitals close, bureaucracy grows.