Letter to the editor: Sharpe off-base on critical issues

I don’t speak for Republicans, but I am a Vermont Republican. Here are a few thoughts in regards to Dave Sharpe’s commentary in the Sept. 24 Addison Independent. It is disingenuous to write that Gov. Scott wants to cut K-12 spending. Gov. Scott hasn’t proposed cutting funding, just controlling health care costs and cutting the increase in funding while the number of students keeps falling. I fully support him in his efforts. Vermont spends more than almost every other state per student on education for similar results to other states that spend far less per student; say for example, New Hampshire (rated 4th in education among the states by US News and World Report, vs. 8th for Vermont).
Also, no Republicans I know believe in trickle down economics; we believe in building wages, jobs and the economy up. And this has been successful in the USA. From IRS statistics, the number of personal income tax returns showing adjusted gross income of $100,000 and above has increased from 11.036 million in 2001 to 23.725 million in 2014 (in inflation adjusted dollars). So regulated capitalism has done a pretty good job of increasing the incomes and no doubt the wealth of a great many millions of Americans. We should enact policies that encourage this trend to continue.
Also, a few words on the wealth gap. There is no reason to care about this. What I worry about and want to focus on is increasing the incomes of the bottom 50 percent of Vermonters. I mean, Jeff Bezos didn’t take money from anyone to become rich. He built a company millions of people use and millions of others bought the stock, and hence his wealth increased because he owns a lot of stock. Low wages is the real issue.
As for regulations, we are definitely over-regulated in Vermont. Let’s look at one item. In Vermont, a multi-story office building with over 1,000 square feet per floor requires an elevator. For a two-story, 2,000-square-foot building, this adds cost of about $6 per square foot per year (capital cost plus operating expenses). So if someone rents a 500-square-foot office, the rent will need to increase $3,000 per year because of this Vermont regulation. The federal rule requires an elevator for each floor with an area over 3,000 square feet; a far more reasonable size. So what does this mean? No one in their right financial mind will build a small multi-story building in Vermont. This is only one example of many regulations that increase costs of construction in Vermont.
So to help Dave Sharpe “get it” here is a summary. The Republicans I know believe in reasonable regulations, and we know Vermont has gone regulation insane. The wealth gap is the wrong issue; we need to focus on increasing incomes for Vermonters. The poor will always get the short end of the stick because they are poor. But Vermont does a pretty good job of taking care of them. As for the federal deficits increasing; now that is something we can agree is a problem. Now if only Mr. Sharpe would write a letter to his fellow Democratic federal legislators to focus on that…
Robert Feuerstein

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