Editor’s note: This commentary is by James Hall, who lives in Center Rutland.
During a recent trip to the northern end of the state, which began in the Rutland area, it was noted along U.S. Route 7, two bank offices recently closed (both in Rutland County), a restaurant closed, a major car dealership certainly appearing to be at or near closure, property for sale (homes, business, commercial) all the way to the northernmost point of the trip in Chittenden County.
Vermont is not a participant of the booming economy that most of the rest of the country is experiencing. This is because of a long history of “fixing” the climate for business and industry, so, the predictable result would be, and has been, businesses leave the area and in addition to that, a climate has existed for too long that has, in effect, said: “Not Welcome Here.” The most recent case of the latter happens to be BJ’s who finally gave up in Rutland Town on a proposed store at the south end of the municipality.
All across Vermont, this same mindset has hobbled the economy into a stagnant status since the days of Howard Dean’s time in the governor’s office.
Those who are fortunate enough to be able to create some savings and have it invested in the market, are doing very, very well. In my portfolio, none of the income is being generated from Vermont-rooted investing options.
The above is not good news for the future of this state’s economic well-being. What’s worse, we have a group of folks in the Legislature who could care less: The state is $4.5 billion in the hole in obligated retirement funding; the current budget is $70 million in the can; and they want to confiscate our firearms, refuse to answer mail on the subject, saddle us with energy concepts the people are very reluctant to sign onto for good reasons, and a host of other “feel-good” stuff that will put us further in the hole.
So, in the governor’s message to the Legislature recently, he spoke about a population in crisis. Some of us have been predicting this outcome for a period of time long enough ago so many of the problems facing Vermont today could have been lessened.
Recently, this writer was at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and headed for home during the 5 p.m. time frame. Traffic between Hanover and I-89 at Exit 16 was bumper to bumper the whole way and the thought crossed my mind: “What a difference between here and five miles down the road at the New Hampshire/Vermont bridge.”
Vermont could have had some of this wealth being generated in New Hampshire, but chose not to. The results are higher taxes, more fees, crisis in education and funding for same, crisis in budgeting, police and fire departments suffering because of lack of personnel, and on and on. These resulting points are the outcomes from state policy putting the hobbles on and keeping them tightened.
I look for improvement as a result of the next election but the corrective action, even if it was applied today, would take a generation or two to really manifest to a point of being significantly noticeable.
Time to clean house corner to corner, and wall to wall, and at 109 State St., Montpelier.