May 12th, 2011
Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston recently published data on state and local public finances in the six New England states. Vermont’s combined state and local government spending was $8,500 per capita in fiscal 2007, the most recent year for which comparable data is available for all the New England states. This was the highest per capita expenditure in the region. In the same year, Vermont’s median household income was the second lowest in New England, above only Maine, and 20 to 25 percent below that in New Hampshire, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh showed his true colors this week — which are anything but red, white and blue — as he repeated on his show one of the Republican Party’s mantras of the moment: “We don’t need more revenues, folks, we need less spending! We need less spending.” And then he added, “and I, by the way, I still want Obama to fail, lest there be any doubt.”
Ten days from now, several hundred Middlebury College students will take those fateful steps across the commencement stage to receive their degrees and then bound off into the world.
For many of us Middlebury College alums who have taken that same walk, this is a nostalgic time of year. We can’t help but recall our own college experience, and the poignant days as they came to a close.
MONTPELIER — Local lawmakers said they will remember the 2011 legislative session for being short on funds but long on accomplishments and punctuality.
The gavel fell on the session on Friday, May 6 — one week ahead of schedule and in spite of a very busy agenda that included health care reform and a fiscal year 2012 budget that was $176 million in the red at the outset.
VERGENNES — At Tuesday’s Vergennes forum in advance of the May 17 revote on Addison Northwest Supervisory Union unification, opponents questioned what tax impact the switch to one-board governance would have on city residents.
Meanwhile, backers focused on unification’s potential benefits to ANwSU students, especially those from elementary schools coming into Vergennes Union High School, and to residents from long-range stability of tax rates.
VERMONT — Labor has long been an issue for dairy farmers, but Vermont’s congressional delegation is seeking to alleviate some of that pressure with changes to federal guest worker policy.
At present, guest workers from other countries are limited to a one-year visa; and dairy farms, as non-seasonal operations, are barred from hiring through the program. The H-2A Improvement Act proposes changes to the current seasonal worker visa program that would allow dairy farmers to hire guest workers legally for a period of three years.
MIDDLEBURY — Gov. Peter Shumlin said on Monday he could not have imagined a more successful inaugural legislative session as the state’s new chief executive officer.
“It was truly extraordinary,” Shumlin said of the 2011 Legislature’s accomplishments, which included passing health care reform; balancing a fiscal year 2012 budget that was saddled with a $176 million revenue shortfall and no federal stimulus funds; and advancing the administration’s goal of extending wireless broadband access to all parts of the state by 2013.
FERRISBURGH — There was a time when Art Cohn believed the heaviest lifting associated with establishing the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM) would be setting up its first rudimentary headquarters near the Basin Harbor Club in Ferrisburgh.
That feat occurred a little more than 25 year ago, when museum co-founders Cohn and Robert Beach Jr. spearheaded the dismantling of Panton’s old stone schoolhouse on Lake Road, then relocated and reassembled it — piece by piece — at the then-barren, four-acre LCMM campus.