This article shows the following:


- Gross state product growth was 13.08% faster than state budget growth, a desirable condition, during the Douglas years,

- GSP growth was 45.5% slower than state budget growth, an undesirable condition, during the Shumlin years.

- The state government needs to decrease the burden of taxes, fees and surcharges on the anemic private sector.


See attached spreadsheet with sources of information. 


The Douglas Years


Douglas increased Dean's fiscal 2003 budget during 2003 to become $1.45 billion for fiscal 2003. 


Douglas's adjusted budget was $1.76 billion for fiscal 2010; for a compounded growth of 2.80%/y.


Gross State Product growth was a compounded 3.16%/y for the 2003 - 2010 period. 


GSP growth was 3.16/2.80 = 13.08% faster than budget growth, i.e., the government was LESS of a burden on the private sector.


The Shumlin Years


Shumlin increased Douglas' fiscal 2011 budget during 2011 to become $1.87 billion for fiscal 2011.


Shumlin's adjusted budget was $2.44 billion for fiscal 2015; for a compounded growth of 5.25%/y.


GSP growth was a compounded 2.86%/y for the 2010 - 2015 period (latest available GSP data).


GSP growth was (1 - 2.86/5.25) = 45.6% slower than budget growth, i.e., the government was MORE of a burden on the private sector. 


The below table summarizes the data.



 Budget Growth

 GSP Growth

 GSP/Budget Growth

GSP/Budget Growth




 % faster

 % slower













- Scott will adjust (increase or decrease) Shumlin's fiscal 2017 budget during 2017. 

- Nominal GSP data are available for the 2010 - 2015 period. 

- Shumlin budgets for the 2010 - 2015 period were used for growth comparisons.

- The year 2016 will be added to the Shumlin section after nominal 2016 GSP data becomes available.


Government Actions: It is no wonder there were revenue shortfalls, year after year, during the Shumlin years, because the state government was growing and the private sector was shrinking, as percentages of the total economy, an untenable situation. It is much better to have GSP grow faster than the state budget, as during the Douglas years, than to have GSP grow slower than the state budget, as during the Shumlin years.


The House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees, controlled by left-leaning Democrat politicians, already had prepared “tax increase ideas for 2017”, based on advice of outside tax consultants. Ideas included increasing various fees and surcharges and limiting/eliminating various deductions to “enhance” revenues from higher-income households to pay for various programs and “government initiatives”. That standard procedure of the past six years has finally come to a grinding halt, due to Scott’s election victory.


Scott in Campaign Mode: Scott stated a goal to have state budget growth no faster than wage growth or GSP growth of the prior year. However, that goal was inadequate, because it merely preserved the status quo. As a minimum, the excessive government spending of the Shumlin years needed to be rolled back, because it had adversely affected the already-weak private sector.


Scott in Governor Mode: Scott, to his credit, proposed to level fund the 2018 state budget, and to level fund education spending, to stabilize state property taxes*. Thus, if the GSP, or household income, or wages, grew at 1%, then state government spending would become a smaller slice of the Vermont economy, instead of a bigger slice, as during the Shumlin years. After some years in this mode, there finally would be more breathing room for the anemic private sector. Scott’s proposal caused great consternation among legislators, because it meant the usual state budget increases of the past 6 years would not take place. It meant state operations would need to become more efficient!


*The claims by legislators, et al., were Scott is too late, because the education budgets already are at the printers, or local education budgets, likely up about 2%, would be impossible to cut by 2% on such short notice, and other such lame excuses; anything to obstruct Scott’s reasonable level-funding approach.


However, if Vermont private sector growth remains anemic, Scott’s level funding may not enough to invigorate the private sector. Scott may need to shrink the state budget and education budget by at least 1%/y, to unburden the private sector and finance items, such as:


- The about $30 million projected deficit for this fiscal year (courtesy of the Shumlin budget), which, in knee-jerk fashion, would have been offset by increasing taxes, fees and surcharges, but, this time, will not be offset in that manner, per Scott’s campaign pledge.


- The about $25 to $30 million per year, for 20 years, needed for cleaning up Lake Champlain, etc.; adding that to the state debt by issuing bonds would be unwise. Vermont is under a court order to clean up the lake and Trump’s smaller EPA likely will not be providing as much of the expected federal funds.


Joint State Efficiency Committee: Leaders of the Legislature and the Governor should set up a Joint State Efficiency Committee that aims to reduce state operations in many areas during the coming years. That implies, the state must be in belt-tightening mode by:


- Cancelling and modifying some programs.

- Operational cost cutting and becoming more efficient.

- Reducing headcounts.

- Lengthening the terms to allow retirement with full benefits.

- Having state workers, teachers, etc., pay a greater percentage of their healthcare premiums.

- Reducing post-retirement benefits.


The state has not practiced such measures during the Shumlin years, as evidenced by above excessive budget growth percentages.


Education: Below are some statistics compiled by the NEA, which show Vermont, a poor state, spending excessively on education. Significant reductions in the order of 10 to 15 percent are long overdue.



States with the greatest declines in enrollment in 2013 were:


- Michigan (-3.8%)

- Rhode Island (-2.3%)

- New Hampshire (-1.2%)

- Vermont (-1.0%) (Tables B-2, B-3)


States with the lowest student-teacher ratios were:


- Vermont (10.0)

- New Jersey (11.8)

- New Hampshire (11.9)

- North Dakota (12.1)

- Maine (12.1)


States with the highest per student expenditures were:


- Vermont ($21,263)

- New York ($20,428)

- New Jersey ($20,117)

- Alaska ($19,244)

- Rhode Island ($18,627)


Here are median salaries of Vermont teachers, plus they are paid for all federal holidays, school vacation weeks, have summers off, have generous pension plans, and have platinum healthcare plans, a.k.a., Cadillac plans.



High School; $54,350

Middle School; $54,110

Elementary School; $53,220


Summary: The lesser budget growth and budget shrinking would begin to roll back the excessive state spending, and roll back the excessive burden of taxes, fees, surcharges and mandates imposed on the private sector during the Shumlin years. The rollback likely would enable the private sector to grow again, i.e., make investments and create steady, full-time jobs, with good pay and good benefits, and likely would attract skilled workers to the state, instead of losing them. That would be a long-overdue change for the near-zero, real-growth Vermont economy and already-struggling Vermont families, which have more than enough temporary, low-pay, part-time jobs, without benefits. The lesser budget growth would create a long-overdue shrinking of the government sector relative to the private sector, with fewer subsidized programs and fewer subsidized government/private partnerships.


Vermont Not a Business-Friendly State: Vermont ranks 43rd out of 50. See URL. That means the political/economic climate has been dampening the entrepreneurial spirit. Instead of increasing its ranking, left-leaning Democrat politicians have adopted an unwritten “economic development policy”: Maximize federal funds into Vermont to start/subsidize government programs, and start/subsidize government/business partnerships, which, as a side benefit, create a spectrum of subsidy-dependent constituencies, that produce reliable votes year after year.


These programs and partnerships usually pay too little in state and local taxes to more than offset their subsidies, i.e., provide a significant net gain. Annual government budget deficits are offset by means of increases of taxes, fees and surcharges exacted from the near-zero, real growth private sector. The “policy” has failed to create a vibrant, growing private sector, with prosperous households and businesses, since 2000. Unless these trends are reversed, Vermont will keep its disgraceful 43rd ranking.



Vermont’s Economic Outlook


Vermont has ranked 49th since 2008, and various conditions are getting worse, not better. Whereas Shumlin has not promoted policies that would improve Vermont’s economic competitiveness ranking, smart governors in “rich states” have used the report (see URL) as a guidepost for governing.



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Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT


(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/From Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-swept-task-force-set-the-rules/From Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.” https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/flaws-in-bill-like-skating-with-dull-skates/

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Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."


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