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FreedomFest: Just one month away!
On July 8th, East Montpelier U32 High School will be host to Vermont’s second FreedomFest. As election season shifts into high gear, this will be a singular opportunity for candidates, organized activists and voters from all over the state to meet one another and begin working together to bring positive change in the coming election.
For candidates, this is a chance to learn in detail about the issues most important to the most active and organized voters on the ground, how to communicate those issues effectively, and who can help you at the grassroots level to get that message out on your behalf.
The day’s events will include issue seminars by Vermont’s leading economists, business leaders, political writers, and activist organizers – all highlighted by keynote speaker Becky Norton Dunlop of the Heritage Foundation.
It’s going to be a great day, and a great day for Vermont! Don’t miss it! You can register for FreedomFest at www.ethanallen.org, or call 802-695-1448.
California Rejects Universal Preschool
If there’s anyplace in the United States more liberal than Vermont, it’s California – and even they have come to realize that the whole push for government-run universal preschool is an expensive, ineffective, big government sham.
California’s Proposition 82 would have taxed the rich (incomes of $400,000 per individual or $800,000 for couples) to fund universal access to state-controlled pre-k programs for all four-year-olds. Can you imagine a more perfectly formulaic liberal policy? Soak the rich, and do it for the children! Well, with 44 percent of votes counted statewide as of this writing, voters are rejecting the idea by a whopping margin of 59 percent to 41 percent.
The fate of Proposition 82 in liberal California should put Vermont lawmakers on notice. As campaign season in Vermont begins to heat up, it’s worth pointing out that 78 Vermont House members voted to continue allowing public school districts to raid the State Education fund to start up u-pre-k programs, not just for four year olds, but all three-and-four-year-olds! So, double your property tax paying pleasure!
To see how your legislator voted, go to:
A “Yes” vote means the legislator voted to allow school districts to expand the public school system by two years at property taxpayers’ expense.
Vermont voters are learning, just as California voters have learned, that state-controlled, U-Pre-K is little more than a Teacher’s Union tax grab that is bad for kids, bad for parents, bad for quality, non-government childcare providers, and really bad for taxpayers.
IMPORTANT ACTION ITEM: The following article, “Douglas: Public early ed not the way to go,” appeared in the Brattleboro Reformer on June 8th and was picked up by the AP (go here to read: http://www.reformer.com/headlines/ci_3912272). Please contact the Governor and let him know you support the courageous leadership position he is taking on this issue (phone: 802-828-3333, toll-free in Vermont: 1-800-649-6825), and publicize that support with a letter to the editor to the Reformer: (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Will Revolting Taxes Lead to a Tax Revolt?
Back in April, the US Census reported that Vermonters were the most heavily taxed people per capita in the country (http://www.census.gov/govs/statetax/05staxrank.html). If that wasn’t enough to send up red flags, we were treated to the spectacle of the legislature franticly rooting through the sofa cushions, desperate to scratch up a measly $24 million to secure federal transportation matching funds after Vermonters loudly screamed “no” to a gas tax hike. You’d think these events would hit our elected officials like a two-by-four to the back of the head: Vermont taxpayers are tapped out! Face it, if you can’t raise taxes to get “free” money from Washington, you can absolutely forget about raising taxes for anything else.
Alas, they don’t seem to get it. Despite the extra-large checks we write, Senate Appropriations Chair Susan Bartlett (D-Lamoille) says, “We as a state have more bills than we have revenues.” In other words, despite taxing us out the wazoo, the gang in Montpelier is still spending our money faster than we can shovel it into the treasury – yet they continue to demand even more. Fuel taxes, cigarette taxes, higher fees.… And what are they proposing? Among many other things, a massive expansion of state government’s role in health care and the expansion of the public school system to include all 3 & 4 year olds – both of which will lead to even higher taxes in the future.
At the city level, Burlington mayor, Bob Kiss, is calling for an 8.4 percent tax increase on top of a local 1 percent sales tax that will kick in July 1. In Rutland, Mayor John Cassarino wants to increase city spending in the next fiscal year by 18 percent over the current year. And in town after town across the state, property taxes are going through the roof. Again, where’s that two-by-four? This can’t continue.
Even the Burlington Free Press has opened its eyes to problem, highlighting various aspects of the high-tax, poor-business-climate crisis in a series of articles and letters, including an editorial titled “Start the hard debate on taxes and spending.” The piece concluded wisely, “Vermont must solve this problem,” but also pointed out correctly, “It’s not clear that lawmakers and the governor sense an urgency to truly demand sustainable spending.”
What is clear is that giving the current governing majority in this legislature more of our money has not solved any problems. It has only given them the resources to created bigger, more expensive ones. They have shown themselves to be unable or unwilling to govern within Vermont’s means. If this continues, there will be a catastrophic price to pay, and your tax bill will only be part of it.
Is There Anyone More Out-of-Touch with Reality than the Legislature?
Actually, yes! Or, perhaps I should say ‘possibly.’ In March & April, group called Vermonters For A Fair Economy and Environmental Protection ran full page ads in the Barre-Montpelier Times-Argus and Rutland Herald with headlines that read: “Invest in Vermont: raise taxes—but only on the wealthiest Vermonters—use the revenue to fund health care, housing, education, elder care, child care, public safety, transportation, and other essential public services.” VFEEP representative, Heather Taylor, followed this up with an equally loopy letter to the Rutland Herald, “Time To Enact Millionaires’ Tax.”
Rather than take that two-by-four to the back of Montpelier’s collective head, VFEEP would, instead, use it to beat Vermont’s Golden Tax Goose to death – or at least chase it squawking out of the state.
Again we can look to California, as it has some experience with millionaires’ taxes. According to California finance office data, between 2002 and 2003, the number of Californians reporting million-dollar incomes dropped from 44,000 to 25,000, causing California to LOSE $9 billion a year in tax revenues (WSJ, 3/1/06). Oops. That’s hardly a good “investment.”
Vermont’s high-tax/regulate-everything policies are already driving away our 18-34 year old middle income taxpayers. Do we really want to add millionaires to the exodus? Vermont now has the second oldest population in the country and we live in a “leisure economy,” which means we are more dependent than most on tax revenue from wealthy retirees. Rich, no job, and probably not from here to begin with, these folks are highly mobile. Were Vermont to adopt VFEEP’s hostile policy, many of those most able to pay our massive bills would leave (or change state residencies for income purposes). The results: Vermont would end up with even less revenue in our state treasury, forcing even deeper cuts in all those programs that VFEEP supposedly wants to support.
TAX CUTS ARE COOL!
In reality, if Vermont wants to generate more tax revenue, the answer is not to raise taxes rates, but to cut tax rates. Again, look at the evidence – the facts -- at the federal level:
According to the IRS (hardly a right wing propaganda machine), the “evil” Bush Tax cuts on capital gains, lowering rates from 20% to 15%, caused revenues to increase by a whopping 79% between 2002-04. The reduction in the tax rate for dividends from 39.6% to 15% led to a 35% increase in revenues over the same period.
In fact, last year, Vermont’s Medicaid deficit was filled in large part with unexpected revenue generated by the above mentioned tax cuts. So, contrary to the hate-the-rich, class-warfare rhetoric we’ve become so accustomed to, the truth is, every Vermonter who is on Medicaid benefited from the Bush Tax Cuts. Eliminating them (or negating them at the state level) would hurt those very same people.
Cutting a variety of taxes in Vermont could be very beneficial to the economy as a whole. We could attract more wealthy retirement income to the state by eliminating the death tax. We could generate more sales tax revenue if Vermont were more competitive with New Hampshire. We could generate more income tax revenue by creating a business friendly environment that attracts high paying jobs. And, no, you will never attract high paying jobs until you stop taxing high paying jobs. It’s like trying to attract bees with insecticide.
High taxes have become the price of admission to live in Vermont today, and many middle-income, hard-working Vermonters are finding they can’t afford the ticket. Cutting taxes is the first, best, most effective step in making Vermont a more affordable place to live.
If you would like to learn more about FreedomWorks-Vermont, or to get involved, please contact State Director, Rob Roper, at 802-999-8145, email@example.com, or visit www.freedomworks.org/vermont/. Join the fight for lower taxes, smaller government, and greater economic opportunity.
Please pass this along to your like-minded friends and neighbors. Your feedback and opinions are much welcome!