Candidates on the Issues: Robert Wagner, Senate
STATE BUDGET: Shift taxes from earned income in business and wages to unearned profits on land speculation and natural resource extraction. There is $1.2 billion per year in tax revenue on resources alone, but corporations pocket this revenue. The Legislature acts in the interests of corporate lobbyists and land speculators, driving business and wage-earners away from Vermont. See the Prosper Vermont citizen legislative initiative at ProsperVermont.com.
The House Ways and Means Committee failed to act on the UVM Gund Institute report, which showed how natural resources, Vermont’s “Commons,” flows into corporations, tax-free. The committee chose instead to maintain tax breaks for the wealthiest land speculators in Vermont, and the corporations that violate the public trust, like Entergy, TransCanada and AIG. We can cancel the personal income tax in Vermont, build our own health care system and universal broadband. We can bring business back, through Prosper Vermont’s tax policy reform.
EDUCATION FUNDING: Act 68 is a Band-Aid, which does not address the real problems:
• Unconstitutional federal education standards including “No Child Left Behind” and “race to the top.”
• Bureaucrats in schools; teachers must spend as much time on paperwork as they do in the classroom.
• Our loss of community schools.
• A rapidly declining tax base. “Business as usual” is gone for good.
Vermont’s small community schools, to which most children could walk, must be restored. School consolidation must be reversed.
Even with no changes, Vermont’s educational spending can be well funded by shifting the property tax off of structures, onto the unimproved value of land, and onto nonresidents and other land speculators. I favor private school vouchers for those residents who wish not to use central schools, but homeschool or use private and community schools.
ENERGY: The true cost of Vermont Yankee is being borne by Vermonters yesterday, today and tomorrow. VY hogs natural resources and fossil fuels, but Entergy pays nothing for consumed resources in the public trust, nor will Entergy compensate Vermont for disposing of nuclear waste in the flood plain of the Connecticut River. My incumbent opponents in the 2010 session ensured that Entergy doesn’t have to fund cleanup by letting bill H.589 — which requires the owner of Vermont’s nuclear power station to establish two trust accounts to support restoration of the industrial site to “greenfield condition” and care for spent fuel — die in a Senate committee.
Vermont must tax surface water used by Entergy for cooling, and tax the surface water used by TransCanada to produce hydroelectric power for Massachusetts. By allowing private monopoly of Vermont’s public resources, tax-free, we’ve created a subsidy to these corporations in the hundreds of millions per year. The corporate subsidies must end, we must redevelop the abandoned hydroelectric projects all over Vermont, take back our dams. Guarantee a feed-in tariff, so that any Vermonter can be an energy company and feed into the local grid.
AGRICULTURE:A farm needs to survive as a business. We must ensure that the farmer keeps the full value of agricultural production, without taxes or stifling federal regulation. Where needed, the Legislature must nullify any unconstitutional regulation of the Monsanto-run USDA that creates a burden on Vermont farmers, and guarantee that farmers can grow industrial hemp and other alternatives to fossil fuels in safety. The noisy helicopter surveillance overflights, and other breaches of our privacy, must end now.
Shifting taxes away from productivity to the unimproved value of land encourages developers to put the urban core to its highest and best use. Developing high-value land in population centers, and not driving up the value of farmland for development, keeps agricultural land affordable, and removes price pressure from Vermont’s small family farmer. See http://ProsperVermont.com/how-farmers-benefit.
HEALTH CARE: Vermont needs our own health care system. Our public health is far worse than other industrialized countries. Health is a public good, not a monopoly. The Legislature must urgently nullify Obamacare so that we can:
• Decouple health coverage from the workplace. Lift this burden from Vermont business.
• Implement a real system that is not an additional subsidy to the largest insurance corporations, with additional taxes on the middle class.
• Extend the corporate tax benefits to individuals for buying health coverage. This will allow competition by smaller, Vermont-based insurance companies.
To pay for this, we must collect the rental value of Vermont’s natural resources, a $1.2 billion yearly give-away to major corporations. End Vermont’s subsidies to Blue Cross, etc. The money’s there. To get it, we have to vote out those incumbent legislators who are representing the interests of corporations above the interests of Vermont business and families.
JOBS:Government cannot create jobs. Economic freedom creates jobs. Government can ensure economic freedom by staying out of the way, not taxing production, and protecting the public trust, Vermont’s immensely valuable “Commons.” Protect the “Vermont Commons” from further monopoly and exploitation by corporations and land speculators.
The incumbents must be voted out. Most are owned by corporate lobbyists and the Democratic/Republican parties.
My policies to end and reverse suburban sprawl development, and end the profitability of the cause of blight, which is land speculation, are introduced in my citizen’s legislative initiative, Prosper Vermont, launching Nov. 3 at http://ProsperVermont.com.