Vermonters are often their own worst enemy

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Within the past three months, two reports were issued statewide – one from the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD). The title for this column came from that report. The other report originated from the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG) and its affiliated consortium of lobbyists, Energy Independent Vermont (EIV).

The ACCD report, issued in May, 2016, is a 60-page document prepared for the state by New York and Vermont marketing firms and titled, "Telling the Vermont Story as A Great Place to Work, Live and Do Business."

Incorporated within the report was this comment, "Nearly every other state in the nation has aggressive economic development marketing programs and significant budgets and staffing to support them. There's not only a battle for business, there's also a talent war being waged across America and beyond. If the current competitive landscape for talent and business attraction was a race, Vermont wouldn't even be on the race track."

Back to VPIRG and its reporting of the results of its recent survey of how Vermonters feel about the introduction of a carbon tax. According to a press release published in the Burlington Free Press, VPIRG concluded that the majority of Vermonters would support a carbon tax. The survey included a few hundred Vermonters.

According to the Ethan Allen Institute, the proposed carbon tax would be applied to producers and wholesalers of heating fuels and gasoline. Consumers, over the next 10 years, would see an additional 88 cents per gallon added to their gasoline cost and, approximately, $1 per gallon to their home heating fuel cost. We are being told that a corresponding decrease in the VT sales tax from 6% to 5% would be proposed.

Contained in the ACCD report are comments that Vermont citizens are getting older, we are having a much lower birth rate and our state's younger population is leaving. These facts were also confirmed in another report prepared for a major Bennington County employer. That report showed that the only growth (between 2015-20) in the county's population was 11% increase in folks over 65. For those between the ages of 0 and 64, there would be either a decline or zero growth.

The BFP carried a quote from Tom Hughes, the campaign manager for EIV, "This (survey) tells us that Vermonters are overwhelmingly aware of global warming and are concerned about it. And when there's concern about an issue, there's a demand for a solution to it." How draconian a solution it is.

The authors of the ACCD report concluded, "Marketing the state as an attractive place for companies and people to be in business. . .can create jobs and employment, which produce income tax revenue, which ultimately supports the state's general fund. If we can be successful in creating opportunity for Vermonters, we can reduce the dependence on public assistance. There's an urgent need for growth in Vermont. It's that simple."

Why would any company or individual ever think of coming to a state that would impose such a horrific excise tax, the carbon tax? As it is, Vermont is among the top five highest taxed states. As a state, we paid dearly two years ago when the Shumlin Administration was proposing a single-payer health care payroll tax of 15% and how it deterred companies from relocating to Vermont. Anyone care to calculate the negative impact the carbon tax proposal is having on out of state companies and young people who might be contemplating coming to Vermont?

It's time for Vermont to get back on "the race track" and cease working at cross-purposes. What is being proposed by VPIRG and the Legislative Energy Committee, does nothing to control worldwide climate issues. Instead, it will make our state an undesirable and unaffordable place to live and work.

Why do we continue to be our own worst enemy?

Don Keelan writes a bi-weekly column and lives in Arlington.


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