Vt. takes economic temp with new thermometerBy DAVE GRAM
The Associated Press | July 31,2013MONTPELIER — A new “genuine progress indicator” of Vermont’s well-being lagged the more traditional “gross state product” measure of economic activity by more than 40 percent in 2011, a panel of state lawmakers heard Tuesday from economic experts backing the new yardstick.
Experts from the University of Vermont told the Legislature’s Government Accountability Committee that the genuine progress indicator should replace gross state product as a guide to economic policy.
“The GPI does a much better job of measuring overall economic well-being because it deducts the environmental costs of economic activity from the benefits that are produced,” Eric Zencey of UVM’s Gund Institute for Ecological Economics said in a statement.
Vermont passed a law in 2012 saying the state should begin using the new measure as it sets economic policy. Tuesday’s session featured a report on what the GPI looked like for 2011 — the most recent data available — and marked what Rep. Anne O’Brien called “the beginning of the conversation” about how the intent of the 2012 law might be carried out.
The meeting also was a primer — by Zencey and Jon Erickson, dean of UVM’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources — on how the GPI works.
Environmental degradation, income inequality, productive work or family time lost as people commute to work — all are counted by the GPI as net drags on the economy, they said, while things like time spent in volunteerism, even as informal as helping an elderly neighbor with chores, factor in as positives.
Vermont is the only state to have passed legislation calling for GPI to be incorporated into the formulation of policies. Maryland’s governor signed an executive order instituting a GPI program there, and several other states are studying GPI as a possible policy tool, they said.
The GPI wasn’t expected to be an easy sale with everyone. William Sayre, an economist, lumber company part owner, radio talk show host and board member of manufacturers’ lobby Associated Industries of Vermont, said he would stick with gross state product as the primary economic indicator.
“With all of its faults the traditional measure at least uses data that we collect on a regular basis and that is produced by transactions in the market,” he said. “We have prices for commodities and services that we buy and sell,” making them more readily calculated, he said.
Sen. Anthony Pollina of Washington County, a strong supporter of the GPI initiative, said he hoped it would “give us a better handle on the impact of our budget decisions.”
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: Julius Caesar dedicates a temple to his mythical ancestor, Venus Genetrix; on this day in 1933, FBI agents in Memphis, Tennessee, arrest Machine Gun Kelly; Yves Rossi flies the English Channel with home-made jet-pack.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1852, Henri Giffard demonstrates the first steam-powered airship, sailing 17 miles from Paris to Trappes; on this day in 1877, Japanese imperial troops crush the Satsuma Rebellion, Saigo Takamori dies in Kagoshima.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: U.S. Rep. Peter Welch meets with Killington business owners, governor candidates debate, Gov. Shumlin discusses progress in anti-opiate campaign, Spanos trial venue moves to White River Junction.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1776, as Nathan Hale is hanged by British military authorities for spying, he utters his famous last words — or does he? In 1975, Sara Jane Moore attempts to kill President Gerald R. Ford in San Francisco.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Patrick McArdle reports and the theft of an $89,000 shotgun, police release a video of the Monday Castleton robbery, O'Gorman reports a lawsuit by a local man claiming his vehicle unlawfully seized, police leave him in cold.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: Giles Corey of Salem, Mass., is pressed to death during the Salem witch trials; on this day in 1952, film comedian Charlie Chaplin, while traveling to England, is denied re-entry into the United States by U.S. attorney general.