Vermont GOP Press Release

Montpelier, Vt. — After over 700 Vermonters have lost their jobs and Vermont’s workforce has shrunk by thousands, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin Thursday finally decided that it was time to appoint a full time Secretary for the Agency of Commerce. This comes, of course, months after Governor Shumlin found it necessary to reposition his former Commerce Secretary to the Agency of Human Services in a desperate attempt to salvage the disastrous rollout of Vermont’s healthcare exchange — Vermont Health Connect. Unfortunately, Governor Shumlin’s actions yesterday are too late for those workers already impacted by the plant closures, downsizing, and company out-of-state relocations that have taken place in Vermont over the past several months.

While it is encouraging that Governor Shumlin finally sees the importance of having someone at the helm of the state’s agency in charge of jobs and economic development, it continues to be discouraging that he has offered no clear, tangible, and fully supported economic development plan for our state. His token attempt to show some initiative on the subject recently — by reciting the words contained in a House Republican economic development plan — fell short when he offered no plan to fund the very initiatives he was promoting. That’s a common theme for this Governor.

Vermonters need more than administrators and hollow economic development plans. The hundreds of newly unemployed Vermonters — and the thousands more whose jobs may be threatened in the future — need real action and a strong commitment from the Governor to growing jobs, reducing the cost of living and doing business in our state, and reviving our stagnate economy. The thousands of Vermonters who have left the state to look for work elsewhere or have given up looking for a job deserve more than this.

Aggressive plans to reduce Vermont’s tax burden — including the property tax burden, a balanced energy policy that reduces costs on families and job creators while preserving our environment, and full transparency about Governor Shumlin’s projected $2.2-billion government run healthcare tax are positive steps that could help facilitate job growth and ease the economic crisis our state is experiencing. Unfortunately, this type of courageous economic development action seems as distant as the lost jobs of hundreds of Vermonters.



By Bruce Parker | Vermont Watchdog

If lawmakers don’t do something soon, fed-up Vermonters may just pack their things and head to Utah.

That’s because Vermont has one of the worst economic outlooks in the nation according to new report that ranks states on economic competitiveness, while Utah has one of the best.

When it comes to tax and regulatory policies that produce economic growth, Vermont ranks 49th in the nation. The ranking appears in the 2014 Rich States, Poor States report released Tuesday by the American Legislative Exchange Council.

The Green Mountain State has remained at the bottom of the heap every year since the report was first published in 2008.

“The Rich States, Poor States survey is significant in that it shows the states that value competitiveness, that value freedom and that value low taxes,” said Jonathan Williams, a co-author of the report and the director of tax and fiscal policy at ALEC.

States with the best economic outlook include Utah, South Dakota, Indiana, North Dakota and Idaho. States locked in a race to the bottom include New York, Vermont, Illinois, California and Minnesota.

Rich States, Poor States arrives at its rankings by examining 15 policy variables related to tax rates, regulatory burdens and labor policies. According to the report’s findings over the past seven years, variables such as low tax rates and right-to-work laws are powerful predictors of economic growth.

“Rich States, Poor States clearly outlines the benefits that lower taxes, sound labor policies and spending restraints can have on the economic environments in the states,” said Arthur B. Laffer, an economist and lead author of the report.

The report is of particular interest to state lawmakers who seek pro-growth economic policies for their states.

“Legislators want to know what are the variables that influence performance, and how do we change the trend line on performance through legislation,” Williams told

Vermont’s low rating is tied to its personal income tax rate (8.95 percent) and corporate income tax rate (8.5 percent), which are high relative to states ranked among the nation’s best in economic competitiveness. Vermont’s property and inheritance tax burdens are among the worst in the nation.

On matters of labor policy, the state received bad marks for its minimum wage of $8.73 an hour — the third highest in the nation.

Bad economic policies have bad economic consequences, according to the report. For example, the report show that states with the highest personal income tax rates also have the lowest job growth, gross domestic product growth and population growth, relative to states with no personal income tax.

While states with no personal income tax saw their tax revenues grow 76.3 percent, states with high personal income taxes had tax revenue growth of just 47.9 percent.

There is little indication Vermont’s elected officials are paying attention to the data. In last year’s report, analysts warned Vermonters of a smorgasbord of new tax hikes on meals, tobacco, high-priced clothing, vending machine items, bottled water and candy.

If Gov. Peter Shumlin’s single-payer health care goes forward this year, taxpayers could be on the hook for an additional $2 billion.

State Rep. Don Turner, R-Chittenden, told Vermont Watchdog the state’s push for single-payer health care has the potential to send taxes through the roof.

“I’ve seen reports that we have a 6 percent sales tax on many goods right now. If we were to raise $2 billion with a sales tax, it would have to jump up to 29 percent. Can you imagine a 29 percent sales tax in a state of 600,000 people?” he said.

The report suggests what happens when lawmakers enact burdensome fiscal policies: people leave. High-tax states like New York, California, Illinois and New Jersey are experiencing significant domestic migration outward.

That trend hit Vermont last fall when Swiss communication-component firm Huber+Suhner relocated its North American headquarters from Essex Junction to Charlotte, N.C. Company president Andrew Hollywood said high taxes were a key reason for leaving the state.

“The cost of doing business here and the tax perspective is a significant reason why we’re moving,” Hollywood said.

Contact Bruce Parker at



April 14, 2014

Press Release: Vermont GOP Montpelier, Vt. — It’s becoming monotonous. First, for the past year Governor Shumlin has failed to follow settled law and reveal the funding strategy for his government-run, taxpayer funded, 2-billion dollar healthcare plans. He was directed by law to submit his plans to the legislature by January 2013 — Vermonters are […]

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Tea Party movement observes 5th anniversary

April 14, 2014

Green Mountain Patriots Press Release This year’s tax day marks the 5th anniversary of the Tea Party movement. The acronym T.E.A. Stands for “taxed enough already.” The movement was founded by average working Americans who strongly believe that we are mortgaging our children’s future under a mountain of debt and taxation. Pat Crocker, the coordinator […]

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VT-NEA Lays Out Expectations for Single Payer Advocacy (VIDEO)

April 14, 2014

by Rob Roper Joel Cook, the executive director for the Vermont National Education Association (VT-NEA) testified before the House Committee on Healthcare, laying out what his union expects from the legislature as it considers the details of a single payer healthcare system. Cook was quick to point out that his union has invested heavily in […]

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Minimum wage debate reveals Vermonters better off on welfare

April 14, 2014

By Bruce Parker | Vermont Watchdog MONTPELIER, Vt. — A bizarre argument offered during the minimum wage debate at the Capitol this week revealed that many low-wage Vermonters are better off living off the government dole. While the House of Representatives voted 87-57 this week to raise Vermont’s minimum wage from $8.73 to $10.10, certain […]

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Report lauds Vermont for leap forward in online transparency

April 9, 2014

By Bruce Parker | Vermont Watchdog A new report from a national federation of consumer advocacy groups ranks Vermont among the nation’s best in providing online transparency for spending. The report, “Following the Money 2014: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data,” provides “A” to “F” letter grades to […]

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Activists blow cover on gun confiscation bill

April 8, 2014

By Bruce Parker Vermont Watchdog MONTPELIER, Vt. — A bill that passed the Vermont House without controversy is now in doubt after gun-rights advocates exposed provisions allowing police to take guns during domestic disputes. “It’s a highly illegal confiscation bill,” Gun Owners of Vermont president Ed Cutler told Vermont Watchdog. “H.735 is a forfeiture bill that […]

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April 7, 2014

Press Release VT GOP VT Republican Amendment to Begin Fixing Property Tax System is Soundly Defeated Montpelier, Vt. — Last week, Democrats in the Vermont House of Representatives hit working Vermonters, families, and struggling business owners with a 1-2 punch. First, they shot down –overwhelmingly along party lines — a Republican proposal to begin the […]

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Rolling Stone exposes VT drug crisis as governor touts smarter pills

April 7, 2014

By Bruce Parker | For Vermont Watchdog As Gov. Peter Shumlin announced an emergency rule to reject Food and Drug Administration-approved painkillers that lack tamper-resistant qualities, Rolling Stone magazine published a bombshell article exposing the horrific extent of the state’s opiate problem — fueling doubts about the effectiveness of the governor’s policies. During a public […]

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