Roper: If our leaders really want more people to move here

By Rob Roper

Columnist Michael Barone, who created and co-authors the “Almanac of American Politics,” has a great piece out on the Census Bureau’s estimates of state populations and immigration patterns. Vermont gets a mention. It’s not encouraging, especially if our leaders are serious in their declarations about wanting to increase Vermont’s population in the near future.

Rob Roper

Rob Roper is the president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

Just three states lost population between 2010 and 2017. West Virginia led the way with a 2 percent decline, which Barone attributes to Obama’s war on coal. Vermont is just behind with a 1 percent decline, which “can be chalked up to Woodstock-era migrants — Bernie Sanders, Howard Dean. They’ve liberalized the state’s culture and politics, so with the state’s high taxes and stringent environmental bans, no one is following.”

It’s an ironic slap given that the Vermont left loves to portray themselves and our state as the leaders everyone else will follow down this Progressive path. What we’ve really become is the cautionary tale in a public service announcement about failed state policies. “This is your state; this is your state on Vermont-style politics.” Eeek!

The third state to lose population was Illinois, at -0.3 percent due to “high and rising taxes, to pay for hugely underfunded public pensions.” There is a cautionary tale for Vermont here as well, as our unfunded pension liabilities are an under-reported ticking time bomb.

So who did well in attracting new citizens to their states? Or, if we’re serious about bringing in new Vermonters, whom we should be emulating? Texas and Florida led the pack with 13 percent and 12 percent population increases, respectively, attracting 5.3 million people in total to their states. Why? “No state income taxes, light-touch regulation, and resulting private-sector booms,” Barone says. It’s certainly not the aesthetic or lifestyle. I’ve been to Texas. It is oppressively hot and not particularly attractive, unless you really like the color brown. Oh, and snakes.

Barone concludes, “The nexus between high taxation and domestic outflow is plain when you look at percentages.” Are our lawmakers paying attention? The governor is on the right track with “no new taxes and no new fees.” That’s still a far cry from no income taxes and regulatory reform, but it’s a step in the right direction in bending the culture curve. House and Senate leaders, however, seem intent on driving over the cliff Thelma and Louise style, prioritizing a $15 minimum wage and a new payroll tax to pay for a government-run family leave insurance program so attractive on its own merits they have to force people into it.

It is time for Montpelier to give up trying to find new things to do to attract new citizens and start figuring out what it is they are doing that drives people away — and stop.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Public domain

14 thoughts on “Roper: If our leaders really want more people to move here

  1. A Vermont native I got out in ’09. Moved to South Carolina upstate about 5 miles from the NC border. Bought a house built in 2005 on an acre of land. Paid $99,500 and as a Vet I get tax breaks, after a year the Homestead allowance of $20,000 and no school tax on the first $100,000 of assessed value.
    My taxes are $389.47. That’s for the year. All taxes. For that I get city water and fire protection, Sheriff patrol and nice neighbors who are all armed. Close by shopping and a great library. Beat of all no progressive fools on the town board.

    • Ed

      I live down here as well. My neighbor much like you a retired Vet pays $273/year on his $200,00 home. (he’s also disabled so gets an additional break, plus no excises tax on his Vehicles.)

      Gov. Henry McMaster wants to cut – to zero – the amount that retired military veterans, law enforcement officers, fire fighters and other peace officers pay in state income taxes.”

      He will get it too, he doesn’t have to battle with a ton of progressives that want every last nickle you have earned.

  2. Montpelier does not have a clue !! Overtax everything in order to push your agenda that
    only liberals think are good ideas.

    Why would anyone want to start a new business in this state and be taxed to death, you have
    have already seen the Death Of Big Business in VT. Shameful and they still don’t
    see it.

    Retires are leaving the state in droves, why should your retirement be taxed or Social Security
    as you already paid you dues?

    In Vermont your (1800-2000) Sq Ft house is Taxed $5,500, along with your retirement being
    and S/S being taxed.

    In Tennessee your (1800-2000) Sq Ft house is taxed $700 and your retirement and Social
    Sec in not taxed. You say how can this be? It’s called conservative elected officials!

  3. Here’s a look at the unintended consequences of minimum wage hikes. This example is of a franchise which VT seems to be getting more of as Mom and Pop businesses close their doors.

    Higher cost s of living in other states, ie. NY, NJ, Conn, will continue to send some retirees here as true VTers reluctantly pack up and shut the doors.

    But the ever-increasing higher costs here are “just the price to live in such a beautiful, crime free state, easy going place.”

    • John- I’m one of those retirees (ha*) from NJ of whom you refer to. We’re taking our vacation house and making it a full time residence, which provides jobs for local contractors, suppliers etc. In the grand scheme of things, it’s still cheaper here than in NJ, along with a less hectic pace which does take some getting used to. From an outsiders’ view, here’s what needs to be done to make the state more attractive:
      1) cut taxes on pensions and social security- you didn’t help me earn it, so it’s not yours!
      2) solve the opioid crisis. Mandatory drug treatment and GED for first time offenders, jail afterwards. Public hanging of drug dealers in the own in which they are apprehended.
      3) a balanced budget every year with no borrowing. Look at NJ’s credit rating.
      4) A maximum per-student education cost, statewide. Local option to spend more by budget referendum.
      5) five year tax abatement for new industries setting up shop in the state. A per-employee rebate for every new job created by existing businesses for one year.

      Learn from the mistakes of others. My job was shut down and moved to a southern state. Why? Less regulation, less taxes, lower utility costs, right-to-work laws

  4. I couldn’t agree more. I used to do a lot of business in VT, back when we had industries scattered around the state. Most of those industries are gone now. If you’re not a logger, a maple producer, or work at a ski area, what do you do here now? Working at a motel is quite seasonal and weather dependant.

    Industry has been forced out and replaced by – – – ? Playing to the tourist trade sounds like a great idea. But a winter like we’re having now (not uncommon) keeps the tourist trade locked up in their homes in CT, MA, NY, and NJ. When they don’t come to VT, what do we have left? And in a few years, our beautiful mountains will be littered with wind farms and solar panel fields. Who want’s to come up and see these?

    • @ VT Patriot

      Bingo ! Tourism does not a states economy make,nor does it retain the future producers.

    • Smart move. I made the mistake of moving back 10 years ago. I have since relocated due to the out of control taxes.

      Still have family that are trying like hell to get out.

  5. If the great believers in Vermont being a leader think that they are indeed leading, suggest they take a look over their shoulder. Guess what? There will be few followers and they will be laughing.

  6. Maybe if VT.wasn’t rated the 4th worst business climate out of 50 states we would have good paying jobs for the young.

  7. Take Marajuanna, Prostitution, and Legalized Gambling—thtow them at a wall and see which one sticks–then run with it and the millions behind it then look for more ways to squander the profits on fake climate change policy, fake educational reform, and more welfare and refugee support–all the while your population of gainful taxpayers is dwindling and retirees with means are fleeing to more progressive states–our leaders are woefully out of touch with reality.

  8. A cautionary tale to other states of following Vermont down the Communist rat hole,only to be outdone by Commiefornia.

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