Deb Billado: A rosy red Vermont

Editor’s note: This commentary is by Deb Billado, chairwoman of the Vermont GOP.

Nationally the economy (Republican in the making) is booming, millions of new jobs are being created, oppressive regulations on businesses are being repealed, the stock market keeps reaching new highs and Republican tax cuts have put more money in our pockets. Many businesses, even in Vermont, are passing on these benefits by giving cash bonuses to their employees.

Overall, though, in Vermont, things are different. Population is stagnant. Our student population is insufficient for our schools, so they have been forced to consolidate or close. Our graduates, young potential workers, face a scarce “good job” market and are leaving to follow their dreams elsewhere. Small businesses, being strangled with over-regulation, are struggling or closing. Businesses that are able are locating elsewhere in pursuit of tax friendly environments. Seniors, finding it increasingly harder to justify living here, are heading south.

Deborah Billado

Deborah Billado

Why is this happening and what can be done? When I look at a political map of the United States, I visualize not only a red Vermont, but one that is rosy red, with a work force created by first keeping our talented people here instead of them fleeing to other places with lower taxes, especially property taxes. I see a state with better opportunities and fewer obstacles for those pursuing their life’s dreams, plans and business ideas. I see a workforce populated with our own young people as they mature and take the place of retirees who want to stay and enjoy a senior-friendly Vermont. I want a state where our youth can join and learn from our seasoned Vermont workers, as we grow our state together in a sustainable and responsible way, with a vital rosy red economy that mirrors our national one.

I sounded an alert before the November election that unless a veto-abled House existed, Vermonters would be at the mercy of the Democrats/Progressives (for all intents and purposes being the same) as they put forward bills that would raise tens of millions of dollars in new taxes, tax increases, and fees.” Without at least 51 Republicans to sustain a veto, the assault on Vermonters’ pocketbooks would happen unopposed. It was only because there were 54 Republicans available to sustain vetoes in 2016 that we today are not further in debt than we are. But, alas, the voters ignored the warning and now there are but 43 Republicans, and so effective deterrence is no longer viable.

Facing a veto-proof Legislature, the only recourse is for the state agencies to find ways to innovate cost-cutting to “help close the gap between the projected growth in spending and available revenues.” We are at a point where history is likely to repeat itself. Just 10 years ago, for the first time in Vermont history, a governor vetoed the budget from the Legislature because he knew it would lead to unsustainable spending demands. The Democrats overrode the veto. As former Gov. Jim Douglas predicted, the growth in the gap between spending and revenue, with large deficits into future years, became reality. Hundreds of millions of dollars had to be made up with new and increased taxes as well as fees, thus reducing the take-home pay of working Vermonters.

The liberal left is again in the position to reject the fiscal responsibility of a Republican governor. Soon the Democrats will be forcing their will on the taxpayers and will exercise unrestricted spending that will prove to be unsustainable. As reported in VTDigger, the gap between revenues and spending “is expected to widen dramatically over the next five years, according to an administration analysis” and “in fiscal year 2025, if the state doesn’t move to reduce some long-term expenses, Vermont’s spending across all agencies will total $255 million more than the available revenue.”

So, the alert goes out again, and thankfully, this time it appears that many more people are getting concerned and engaged. There is a new wind blowing and a desire for a change in direction. Republicans are the adults in the room that can put some sense into an out-of-control situation, and we must win in the 2020 election. If our party rises to the occasion, fields candidates for all offices and meets the call we are hearing for this change, 2020 will bring the needed “red wave.” I am optimistically expecting that to happen, and we will soon see that rosy red color in our little part of the Northeast. It was just 13 years ago when traditional and seemingly perpetual Republican red control of the Legislature turned sadly blue (color appropriate), but there are many who remember, and long for, a return to those days of yesteryear. The Democrats have managed to keep Vermont in a state of stagnation, and our people are missing out on the wonderful possibilities that could be ours.

In checking that political map, I found a red state, Wyoming, with similarities to Vermont to give an example of how we can do better with Republican leadership. Both Wyoming and Vermont are fabulously beautiful, desirable places to live where people can visualize living out their dreams and happily ever-aftering. Both have majestic mountains, inspiring national parks, the wonders of outdoor living with fine skiing opportunities, and many other healthful recreational activities. Vermont has a potential economic advantage over Wyoming because her natural beauty and recreational activities are positioned near, and surrounded by, many high-population centers within a few hours of our border. Considering it is just 70 miles from 3 million people in Montreal, 2.5 hours from Boston and 5 hours from New York City, opportunities abound for Vermont business, but only if economic restraints are dramatically lessened. We should outshine Wyoming in opportunity, natural revenue and economic vitality; that would result in lower taxes for Vermont’s taxpayers. Sadly, that is not the case.

The tax contrasts are stark with Wyoming’s property tax being less than one-third what Vermont’s is. Wyoming collects an average of 0.58% of a property’s assessed fair market value as property tax per year, and Vermont collects an average of 1.59% of a property’s assessed fair market value. In 2019 Vermont collected $3,444.00 per median priced house whereas Wyoming collected $1,058.00 per median priced home there. Vermont has a relatively high state income tax while Wyoming has none. Wyoming’s sales tax is 4% compared to Vermont’s 6%. Wyoming does not tax real estate or seniors’ social security — Vermont does. Wyoming’s gasoline tax is 12 cents a gallon less than Vermont’s. Vermont’s services from tax revenue are not superior to Wyoming. Wyoming has a lower cost of living.

So why is Wyoming’s tax burden so much lower? It’s all about governance. Vermont is governed by radical spending liberal/progressive Democrats, and Wyoming by conservative fiscally responsible Republicans. Wyoming does so much better, and the cure for Vermont is obvious. With a simple adjustment by voters at the ballot box to match what they do in Wyoming, which is consistently voting Republican, our lives will improve.

It’s a simple fix! We can do this! We have talented people! We have the ability! We care about Vermont in real ways! While Vermont has claimed many firsts, the liberals rank at the bottom for properly representing our people. Republicans will lead the way so we can capitalize on our location, support and grow local businesses, encourage new businesses to come, keep our youth and retired citizens, and seize the opportunity to live well in the best place on planet Earth.

Images courtesy of Public domain and Deborah Billado

24 thoughts on “Deb Billado: A rosy red Vermont

  1. Re: “Thanks for the guidance on this Master Jay. Fortunate are we to have the wisdom of someone to over see our foolishness and bring us back into clear right-think. But, bad padawon that I am, I’ll pass…and continue to wallow in obfuscation seeking entertaining metaphors.”

    So be it. Best of luck to you, none the less.

  2. Re: “It’s a simple fix! We can do this!”

    Unfortunately, it’s not a simple fix. It’s virtually impossible…a fool’s errand, because most Vermonters aren’t convinced it needs fixing.

    “Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm; but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.” T.S. Eliot

    Forty percent of Vermont’s existing workforce is employed in its government, health and education sectors. They are organized, well-funded and politically active. Vermont’s $6.8 Billion non-profit sector, with $13.2 Billion in assets, is equally substantial and politically active. They are all interested one thing – maintaining their power and control of government because they believe they know what’s best for the rest of us.

    Now consider that only 57% of Vermont’s registered voters actually voted in the last election. What we have is the dysfunctional tyranny of the majority Benjamin Franklin and Alexis de Tocqueville warned us about.

    “Democracy is like two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.” Benj. Franklin

    “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” Alexis de Tocqueville

    There is a fix, however. More on that later.

    • Hi Jay, I hope people notice, you are not dismissing the power of the ideas put forth, but how to effectively deliver a message and get results. You need to understand the landscape in which you are going to play, you very accurately outlined a serious hurdle. Ironically if we played our cards correctly we could expose the sham being played out and win votes.

      Sun Tzu, a wonderful book used by business, marketing and generals for hundreds of years because it works. JC is another great leader.

      Great comment Jay, I hope people see it as intended, it’s given with the understanding you support the cause and want success for those who represent the minority. Great comment. I don’t want to publically discuss sling shot success plans on line,.

      Question, how did David defeat Goliath? Did he wrestle him? Did he physically fight him? Did he have more troops? Did he have better weapons? Nope, nor would he have won in any of these ways.

      He used a stone and slung it to his forehead, killing him. He knew the landscape before going in. He knew his strengths, and his opponents weakness.

      • The current state of affairs of which I speak, Neil, describes neither a war between armies nor a battle of titans, large or small. Nor am I interested in sacrificing myself on anyone’s alter for a greater good, as may be perceived by others. I am not a Democrat, Republican or Independent. But while I may be ‘a party of one’ from time to time, my self-interest is not without regard for others – just the opposite in fact. And the ‘fix’ I have in mind is already as plain as the nose on my face, and yours. Hidden, apparently, in plain sight, awaiting discovery by the concerned among us.

        Consider first Chapter 1, Article 7 of the VT Constitution – the so-called Common Benefits Clause, ensuring that the benefits and protections conferred by the state are for the common benefit of the community and are not for the advantage of persons who are a part only of that community.

        Then consider Chapter 1, Article 9, the so-called Proportional Contribution Clause establishing a quid pro quo contract in which “every member of society hath a right to be protected in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property, and therefore is bound to contribute the member’s proportion towards the expense of that protection,…”.

        In effect, we, as individuals, have entered into a contract with the ‘State’, creating mutual obligations enforceable by law, including but not limited to mutual assent, expressed by a valid offer and acceptance; adequate consideration; capacity; and legality. According to Chapter 9:

        “…nor are the people bound by any law but such as they have in like manner assented to, for their common good: and previous to any law being made to raise a tax, the purpose for which it is to be raised ought to appear evident to the Legislature to be of more service to community than the money would be if not collected.”

        For one instance in particular, Education, the State is in clear default to those of us who pay our property taxes. But our grievances, as defined by the recent Superior Court rulings with regard to Act 46, must be filed as individual plaintiffs, not as school boards or school districts.

        Fix our education system and you fix the world.

        • “Fix our education system and you fix the world”

          oooooor… perhaps, we could stop conceptualizing the flawed monopoly schooling “system” as education…resurrect the vision that it’s parents who education their children…ask citizens to withdraw their support for the Gov./NEA plantation for teaching indentured servants…let teachers market their services to parents directly??? Oh gracious me-oh-my, isn’t heresy fun.

          • Vincent and Neil, you both continue to miss the two most important points of this matter. They are the rule of law and our obligation as citizens to understand it, not obfuscate with entertaining metaphors.

            First, the concept of parents being responsible to educate their children is not a mere ‘vision’. It is the law. Parents simply don’t understand (or choose not to understand) that it is the law that gives them the authority to enforce their contract with ‘The State’, allowing individual parents to choose the education program that best meets the needs of their children.

            Second, most people fail to realize that the law does not give legal standing to local school boards or school districts as plaintiffs in a breach of contract litigation against ‘The State’. This fact is emphasized in the recent ELMORE-MORRISTOWN UNIFIED UNION SCHOOL DISTRICT, STOWE SCHOOL DISTRICT, and LAMOILLE SOUTH SUPERIVORY UNION, v. VERMONT STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, Superior Court Act 46 Ruling.

            “[School Boards and School Districts] do not have a fundamental right to any particular form of school governance; therefore, their objections to changes in school governance imposed under Act 46 do not implicate the violation of a constitutionally protected right.”

            On the other hand, the recent Act 46 rulings also state that “Due process protections do not apply unless the government has deprived an individual of a protected property right.” ATHENS SCHOOL DISTRICT, v. VERMONT STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION.

            In other words, while local school boards and school districts have no legal standing, individuals do.

            We have an individual obligation to pay taxes for our proportionate share of the protections provided by the State. And the State has an obligation to provide that protection, at least in as much as “…the purpose for which [the taxes are] to be raised ought …. to be of more service to community than the money would be if not collected.”

            By almost every measure, the State can not demonstrate that it provides ‘more service’ than can individual parents when using their share of education funding of their own accord. It is, therefore, incumbent on individual citizens to exercise their rights in this matter.

          • Thanks for the guidance on this Master Jay. Fortunate are we to have the wisdom of someone to over see our foolishness and bring us back into clear right-think. But, bad padawon that I am, I’ll pass…and continue to wallow in obfuscation seeking entertaining metaphors.

        • Not to describe war, but message, and the marketing here of, when the message and marketing are in sync, following the truth, the constitution and the heart we have a better chance of winning this game of chess. Bringing the fruits of a better spirit, peace and prosperity, a more perfect union as they say.

          At the moment we are owned and operated by astro turf , special interests, PAC’s, lobbyists and special friends to the government, a press that is all but owned by those with big pockets. It’s a complicated stew to sort through and find a good piece of meat.

    • What were Trumps first words coming down the escalator, what problem had he assessed was facing America? What problems are Europe currently facing? His first thing was we need to secure the boarder.

      There was no Republican stating this. He was accused of not being a Republican.

      Yet, he’s implemented more Republican ideals, despite the RNC and all the Republicans wanting to throw him out of the party at every chance they had.

      He rightly identified the corrupt press, (a must read is Sheryl Atkisson’s The Smear) and boiled down the entire thing to two words—-FAKE NEWS—– rightfully so. He plays the press like the cheap _____ they truly are.

      These were American ideals, that’s why he’s crossing segments and despite the largest on slaught of press, still fighting and winning.

      He spoke about jobs, “I’m going to be the best jobs President God ever created”….so far he’s doing it. Was that a “Republican Platform?” Yes and no….notice he wasn’t talking about tax breaks every day, he was talking about jobs, still is EVERY DAY, meanwhile he’s done more for the Americans that have been left for dead by the Democratic party than all the years of Democratic rule. He knows the their weakness, they never and still don’t care about those they profess to love.

      He’s a stable genius……he’s a marketing expert, he won, he’s winning, he redefined how to win, he gave us a road map, we need to realize we are not on the same terrain. Even President Trump lost massively in Washington D.C. ……he lost massively in Vermont. Our Terrain is more like Washington DC, except more corrupt. We can’t cookie cutter our way out of this mess.

      Jay points out some serious hurdles that also expose some serious weaknesses. We need to play our game accordingly.

  3. Thanks Deb. Your vision for Vermont is focused, clear and inspiring. I can see it happening.

    The population is awakening to the damage the Democrats have inflicted on our Vermont and they know what is in store unless there is a change. Fewer will have to pay more. Young will flee for jobs elsewhere. Businesses will look for greener pastures and surely few new ones will want to locate here. The latest bond rating reduction for Vermont is a clear indicator (canary in the mine) that Vermont taxpayers will face even rougher times, encouraging even more people to consider leaving. That will further the burden on the remaining few and the downward spiral will continue.

    There will be a day of reckoning for the irresponsible, power greedy, Democrats/progressives, that are for sure ruining our state and people will look to the conservative true Republican leadership to show the way. Your message must be spread far and wide. What you are offering is hope, something that has not been felt around here for the past decade or so.

    Your message is like a light high on a hill showing the way for us that care and for those who have been deceived and those who have just given up. Your words reinforce what seems to be in the air, a sense of expectation that true Republicanism can prevail here and a desire by many for a big change. I see red, very rosy red I hope, in our future. Thanks again.

    • Bob,
      We need a True Republican Governor in charge, our current Governor
      played with the Progressives and got burned, he didn’t learn a thing !!

  4. Until we get representation for the citizen instead of the leftist ASSAULT AGENDA
    nothing will change. The super majority of nitwit leftards don’t care what we think their only there to push agenda, ie ban evil plastic bags and straws, climatetardism, killing babies, more bigger government.. all the things nobody gives a crap about… and they could care less what you think or want..

  5. Yes – thank you for the clear thinking. We would be moving in a direction to get sensible legislation if more Republicans were elected. I would add…whoever sits in the seats…they REPRESENT us. Let’s make our wishes known whether they are republicans or…those other more delusional folks.

  6. Liberal Progressive DemocRATs, just a gaggle of fools to ruin the state with
    foolish policies that are going to bury us in debt and they’re doing a great job
    with that !!

    Just look at every state in the union run by DemocRATs and look at the dismal
    financial status, crime, failing infrastructure, taxes, yup sounds like Vermont.

    Wake up people, they’ll ruin our state.

  7. Take Back Vermont, it’s a simple concept. It doesn’t matter if your grandfather and father and mother were democrats, that party is long gone. Progressives have ruined Vermont and that’s also a simple concept. Now people need to engage because this is a war for the future of Vermont. Phil Scott should be primaried by a conservative ready and able to take on the name callers.If fact he should either join the progressive party or step down. He obviously did way too many left turns at Thunder Road. Thanks Deb, I also long for the Vermont I grew up in. The Vermont with actual Vermonters in the legislature. The Vermont without all of the social justice warriors sent here with out of state money to cure all of the things they imagine. Just look to Burlington, another classic liberal run city in ruins. Legalize freedom and take back Vermont from the carpetbaggers, the free loaders and those more interested in themselves than their fellow citizens.

    • Say no to Astro Turf, We’ve got way too much astro turf in this little state. They’ll frame you in a negative way with Take Back Vermont, though it is correct and was the right platform. They framed it make people appear homophobic when it wasn’t even the premise of Take Back Vermont.

      Organic Grass, just say no to Astro Turf.

      Astroturfing is the practice of masking the sponsors of a message or organization (e.g., political, advertising, religious or public relations) to make it appear as though it originates from and is supported by grassroots participants. It is a practice intended to give the statements or organizations credibility by withholding information about the source’s financial connection. The term astroturfing is derived from AstroTurf, a brand of synthetic carpeting designed to resemble natural grass, as a play on the word “grassroots”. The implication behind the use of the term is that instead of a “true” or “natural” grassroots effort behind the activity in question, there is a “fake” or “artificial” appearance of support.


    • Amen to that. Rino Scott is the biggest disappointment in my life time. At least with a Shumlin, we knew what we would get, and we got a good dose of Shummy’s non sense.
      Scott’s doses of non sense began to manifest even before he was elected in 2016. He was extremely slow to put his plan for governing in place. That was a huge red-flag to me; that flag has been in the air ever since, for a variety of reasons.

  8. I agree 100% Deb. That’s a process that we should pursue but it’s going to be a tough road to navigate for these socialist/liberals have their teeth deeply in-bedded into our skin..

  9. As to the slot for governor,conservative Vermonter’s need to find a candidate who is not a “Progressive aka RINO,as a conservative nominee.As well as representatives and senate candidates and then support them,if one wishes to end the insanity currently under the golden dome.

  10. An excellent road map to fix our state. The “Progressives” have progressed to burden us with a $4.5 billion pension deficiency, a bloated and over-regulating bureaucracy, and stifling property taxes. Of course we can do this — the sole alternative is a Venezuela-style spiral down the socialist sinkhole. This isn’t even an ideological issue — it’s the reality of math. Thanks for this encouraging call to arms!!

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