Can’t be everything for everyone
In reading Paul Cillo’s recent Sunday piece, it was striking in the information omitted from that commentary. In the first place, we are in a much different time now than was the case back when Governor Snelling took office the second time in 1991.
The tax base was much different then, in particular, because there was more industry in Vermont that paid very good wages. There was the machine tool industry in Windsor County, and in Rutland there were Tam-Brands, Mal Tool, Moore Business, Metro Mail, all of which paid decent wages. All of the above have made the exit, largely because of state policy, and the failure to be friendly to any business that wants to gain permits to open in place of those who left. With the loss of such, as noted above, there has been an influx of sandwich shops, pizza shops, deli operations, all of which are serving a need, but at the expense of the higher-end restaurants. Over the last few years, Rutland has seen three of those restaurants close.
Policy at the state level has created a situation where the tax base cannot support a government of the type that was in place in Dick Snelling’s time. Being everything to everybody is not an option in the economy of 2013 here in Vermont. Yet our legislators, and the state government folks that are supposedly working for our best interests, carry on as though nothing has changed in the last 20 years.
In summary, Vermont cannot support a government that continues to grow and grow, because the population base has become largely retired folks on fixed incomes. I think Governor Shumlin understands this, but for whatever reason, he does not act the part. People in local government do get it, however, because municipal budgets have been a reflection of what taxpayers can afford for several years. I know this for sure, because I had a hand in building budgets for Rutland Town for six years.
For starters, the Legislature should take a serious look at the Education Department and Human Services Agency. Do a bottom-up review, and deliver those services commensurate with the ability of the tax base to pay the bill. Continuing to do business as usual, as Mr. Cillo seems to advocate, is not sustainable, and not a reasonable option, unless the goal is to drive more people out of Vermont. Time will tell.
Being everything to all cannot continue.
JAMES B. HALL