Editor’s note: This article is by Lou Varricchio, editor of the Sun. It is republished here with permission.
Vermont was ranked low, 41 among 50 states, when it comes to taxpayers’ return on investment (ROI). In other words, taxpayers pay-in to Montpelier but don’t see much overall for their investment.
The Green Mountain State’s 10th worst showing in the 50-state taxpayer ROI standings was vetted in a new online report by the personal finance website WalletHub.com. Titled “2021’s States with the Best & Worst Taxpayer ROI,” WalletHub ranked New Hampshire, Vermont’s neighbor to the east, number one in taxpayer ROI with Hawaii in last place.
According to WalletHub’s Diana Polk, “WalletHub used 30 metrics to compare the quality and efficiency of state-government services across five categories — education, health, safety, economy, and infrastructure and pollution — taking into account the drastically different rates at which citizens are taxed in each state.”
Despite the low overall ranking, Vermont did well in selected ROI areas such as, for example, education and health yet the state’s total taxes-per-capita pulled the overall rating down to 10th worst in the nation.
Selected taxpayer ROI rankings in Vermont out of the 50 states (One=best, 25=average) are as follows:
- 41st – Overall ROI
- 48th – Total taxes per capita (population age 18 and over)
- Second – Education (Vermont was ranked in the top five of best schools in the USA)
- Seventh – Health
- Sixth – Safety
- 36th – Economy
- Sixth – Infrastructure and pollution
One of WalletHub’s panel of outside experts, Dr. Jeremy Jackson, director of the Center for Public Choice and Private Enterprise at North Dakota State University, said local governments are the biggest wasters of taxpayer dollars.
“Economic development: Whether it is providing public funds for the latest sports stadium or offering tax incentives to encourage investment and development, these types of programs rarely deliver what they promise,” Jackson noted. “If a project makes economic sense for a private company it will usually be executed with or without public assistance. Of course, there are clear beneficiaries of such programs which tend to benefit the politically connected and the wealthy at the expense (lower taxes for some mean higher taxes for others) of everyone else.”
According to Jackson, “Local governments should focus on their core functions which include doing those things that cannot or will not be done by the private sector. Do those things well and let the private sector do what it does well. There is no silver bullet solution to the fiscal impact of the pandemic which is outside of the control of local governments.”
Added Polk, “74% of people (we surveyed) think… the government has not spent their tax dollars wisely during the COVID-19 pandemic.”