by John McClaughry

Gov. Phil Scott and the Democratic-controlled legislature are well into crunch time over the FY2019 state general fund budget and the related education finance bill.

The governor obviously takes very seriously his 2016 campaign pledge to hold state General Fund spending to a growth of 2.36% a year, and to oppose – and veto – any increase in tax rates. However the actual homestead school property tax rates are not set each year by the legislature and the governor. They are determined district by district based on each district’s spending per equalized pupil. The total tax dollars thus raised, when added to other specified revenue sources, must add up to the sum of all the voter-approved school budgets.

Last year the governor (enthusiastically) and legislature (unhappily) agreed to grab more than $40 million from various accounts and reserves, and put that into the Education Fund to produce a slight reduction in homestead school property tax rates. That was effectively an internal loan that has to be repaid this year.

On May 1, two weeks before adjournment, the governor unveiled a sweeping new plan for curbing education spending and keeping homestead property tax rates flat.

His plan promises to deal with a financing gap of $236 million over the next five years. It proposes to appropriate between $44 and $58 million in one-time funds to replenish the now-depleted reserve funds and keep the homestead property tax rates flat for the coming year. The governor has apparently forgotten (again), that in his 2016 campaign he promised “We need to stop using one-time money to plug reoccurring budget holes.”

The administration’s plan promises “nearly $300 million in savings” over the five year period. Reviewing the governor’s projections, the respected, nonpartisan Joint Fiscal Office fairly concluded that “the administration’s 5-year outlook is a mathematical exercise only: their analysis does not indicate specifically how this ‘gap’ will be closed.”

The big ticket in the administration’s proposal to save the $262 million is “increasing student to staff ratios” in Vermont schools, ultimately (and supposedly by attrition). This is mathematically attractive but not credibly achievable unless the state seizes control of the schools.

When the administration floated the idea of imposing fines on school districts that didn’t meet its 5.75 to 1 ratio test, it vanished within about two days. In truth, nobody can accurately predict just how districts would react to the mandate and associated penalties, and thus how much spending would be saved.

A special education law enacted earlier this year could – possibly – produce some savings, but no one knows how much, because no one knows how the school districts will choose to make use of new flexibility, and how often service reductions will be challenged by plaintiff lawsuits.

Establishing a statewide teachers’ health insurance program could, depending on its terms, produce savings, but no one knows what the terms of such a program would be. The governor also plans to spend some of those savings, if any, on preschool, state colleges, and technical education.

What this comes down to is whether to put $34 million (or $58 million) from available one-time revenues into the Education Fund to keep homestead school property tax rates flat, and rely mainly on mandated student to staff ratio increases to produce enough “savings” to keep them flat for five years (Scott’s proposal); or letting the homestead property tax rates rise by maybe two cents to reflect increased school budget spending, while using much of the one-time revenues to pay down the enormous long-term liabilities ($2.4 billion) of the teachers’ retirement and health benefit funds (the Democratic proposal).

To their credit, the Democrats have worked conscientiously to be fiscally responsible. They rightly believe that the governor’s projection of marvelous “savings” over five years, essential to holding the line on homestead school property taxes, is speculative at best. They also responsibly oppose, as Scott himself did two short years ago, using the one-time funds to hold down tax rates for one more year. Their recommendation for using those funds is to slightly but symbolically reduce the liabilities of the teacher retirement funds.

The problem the Democrats face is that most homeowners badly want property tax relief, and are not very receptive to appeals for sound fiscal practice. It is after all election year, and if Scott’s proposal prevails, his strong suit in November will be that “he stopped rising school property taxes.”

At this writing, the resolution of the school finance issue, and thus the vetoed budget, has not taken shape. What does seem almost certain is that the terms of any resolution this month will produce exactly the same problem next year, when there’s no reason to believe that  significant  one-time funds will appear to cover another Education Fund shortfall.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute (www.ethanallen.org).

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June 4, 2018

by Rob Roper

There is a phenomenon in behavioral economics called the “diner’s dilemma” which tracks how people act when evenly splitting a dinner check versus paying individually. The conclusion of these experiments shows that when people pay for their own consumption they spend less than when sharing the cost with others. As several studies show, roughly 30 percent less.

Vermont’s education financing system is built on a dynamic very similar to splitting the check. Local districts order what they want for their “meal”, the state collects the money in one large pool and redistributes it to cover the total bill. The psychological incentive is for districts to spend more so that other districts will end up subsidizing their portion of the bill and not the other way around. The result is a bigger total bill, much to the NEA’s delight, which is why the system is designed as it is.

Adding to the problem (and also by design), under our current system there is no real accountability. The legislators who set the tax rates blame the local voters for passing high school budgets, local officials blame the legislators for the funding system that leads to high property tax bills. So, whom do you vote out of office if you don’t like the results? Who’s really accountable? Hard to say.

This is the dynamic that must be broken, but Act 60, which guarantees students have equal access to education funding, makes “separate checks” illegal. So, what do we do?

Governor Scott is proposing to increase mandates from Montpelier for, specifically, things like staff/student ratios. The legislature is implementing mandated mergers under Act 46. All of these solutions are serious infringements on local control, a concept that since Act 60 has become largely a myth.

Here is a proposal to reign in costs, reinstate some measure of local control, and inject accountability into the process: have the legislature set a uniform per-pupil spending level (with some allowances for special needs students), but allow local school boards full reign over how to best spend the money, free from state-level interference.

Under this system, a school’s budget would be determined by the number of students in the school times the set tuition rate. There would be some loss of local control as to how much to spend, but far more local control over how to spend. (Would you prefer a thirteen dollar meal I choose for you, or ten dollars to spend on whatever you like?) If you don’t like your tax bill under this system, fire your state Representatives and Senators; they are responsibly for how much or how little is being spent. If you don’t like how the local school is being run, fire the local school board; they’re the ones calling the shots. Accountability.

This is pretty much the model under which Vermont’s independent schools that accept tuitioning students operate, and they, for the most part, get tremendous results for fewer taxpayer dollars. We know this works as the model has a century-and-a-half long track record in Vermont. Moreover, it would be a much fairer model, complying with and even exceeding the equal access to funding Act 60 demands. Whereas now students only have equal access to funds but extremely unequal per-pupil funding from school to school across the state, under the proposed system they would have equal funding.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute

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H.911 – AN ACT RELATING TO CHANGES IN VERMONT’S PERSONAL INCOME TAX AND EDUCATION FINANCING SYSTEM

PASSED
in the State Senate on May 4th, 2018 by a vote of
26-3 

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Purpose: The Senate version of H.911 attempts to plug a $58 million shortfall in the state Education Fund by increasing property taxes while giving Vermonters an income tax break.
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Analysis: The version of H.911 that passed the Senate has 3 components:
1) Increased property taxes, decreased income taxes, 2) Making charitable contributions more tax friendly, 3) Removing the education-reform school measures from the House bill passed in March.
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The bill increases property taxes 5% for residential homes and 7% for non-residential property. On the other hand, it lowers income taxes by $30 million by reducing the rates the lower-income tax brackets by 0.2% and the higher income-tax brackets by 0.1%, to compensate for unintended increases resulting from changes in federal tax law. The bill also ends the tax on social security for Vermonters with incomes less than $55,000, allows for a 5 percent tax credit for charitable donations and removes a $10,000 cap on deductions for charitable donations.
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Those voting YES support this tax package.
.
Those voting NO do not support this tax package.
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Senate Journal, Thursday, May 4th, 2018. “Shall the Senate propose to the House to
amend the bill as recommended by the Committee on Finance?, was agreed to
on a roll call, Yeas 26, Nays 3.” (Read the Journal, p. 983)
.


How They Voted

(Click on Your Senator’s Name to Send an Email)

Timothy Ashe (D/P-Chittenden) – YES
Claire Ayer (D-Addison) – YES
Becca Balint (D-Windham) – YES
Philip Baruth (D-Chittenden) – YES
Joseph Benning (R-Caledonia) – NO
Carolyn Branagan (R-Franklin) – YES
Christopher Bray (D-Addison) – YES
Randy Brock (R-Franklin) – YES
Francis Brooks (D-Washington) – YES
Brian Campion (D-Bennington) – YES
Alison Clarkson (D-Windsor) – YES
Brian Collamore (R-Rutland) – NO
Ann Cummings (D-Washington) – YES
Margaret Flory (R-Rutland) – NO
Debbie Ingram (D-Chittendent) -YES
M. Jane Kitchel (D-Caledonia) – YES
Virginia Lyons (D-Chittenden) – YES
Mark MacDonald (D-Orange) – YES
Richard Mazza (D-Chittenden-Grand Isle) – YES
Richard McCormack (D-Windsor) – YES
Alice Nitka (D-Windsor District) – YES
Chris Pearson (P-Chittenden) – YES
Anthony Pollina (P/D/W-Washington) – YES
John Rodgers (D-Essex-Orleans) – YES
Richard Sears (D-Bennington) – YES
Michael Sirotkin (D-Chittenden) – YES
David Soucy (R-Rutland) – YES
Robert Starr (D-Essex-Orleans) – YES
Richard Westman (R-Lamoille) – ABSENT
Jeanette White (D-Windham) – YES

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..
PASSED
in the State Senate on May 9th, 2018 by a vote of
25-4

.
Purpose: To apply efficiency standards to over a dozen appliances, including showerheads, computers and telephones.
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Analysis: This bill would increase the number of appliances that are subject to Vermont’s energy efficiency standards.
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Those voting YES believe that some appliances are too energy-intensive, and that Vermonters should not be allowed to purchase them.
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Those voting NO believe that Vermonters should be allowed to decide for themselves the costs and benefits of a variety of appliances. The ones who will be most hurt by this legislation are poor Vermonters who may have to forgo purchasing much needed appliances because the up-front cost of the high-efficiency models is greater than the models that do not meet efficiency standards.
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Vermont’s energy efficiency standards have been in place since 2005.
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Senate Journal, Thursday, May 9th, 2018. “Thereupon, the bill was read the third time and passed in concurrence with proposal of amendment on a roll call, Yeas 25, Nays 4.” (Read the Journal, p. 1419-1420)
.


How They Voted

(Click on Your Senator’s Name to Send an Email)

Timothy Ashe (D/P-Chittenden) – NOT VOTING
Claire Ayer (D-Addison) – YES
Becca Balint (D-Windham) – YES
Philip Baruth (D-Chittenden) – YES
Joseph Benning (R-Caledonia) – YES
Carolyn Branagan (R-Franklin) – YES
Christopher Bray (D-Addison) – YES
Randy Brock (R-Franklin) – NO
Francis Brooks (D-Washington) – YES
Brian Campion (D-Bennington) – YES
Alison Clarkson (D-Windsor) – YES
Brian Collamore (R-Rutland) – NO
Ann Cummings (D-Washington) – YES
Margaret Flory (R-Rutland) – NO
Debbie Ingram (D-Chittendent) – YES
M. Jane Kitchel (D-Caledonia) – YES
Virginia Lyons (D-Chittenden) – YES
Mark MacDonald (D-Orange) – YES
Richard Mazza (D-Chittenden-Grand Isle) – YES
Richard McCormack (D-Windsor) – YES
Alice Nitka (D-Windsor District) – YES
Chris Pearson (P-Chittenden) – YES
Anthony Pollina (P/D/W-Washington) – YES
John Rodgers (D-Essex-Orleans) – YES
Richard Sears (D-Bennington) – YES
Michael Sirotkin (D-Chittenden) – YES
David Soucy (R-Rutland) – NO
Robert Starr (D-Essex-Orleans) – YES
Richard Westman (R-Lamoille) – YES
Jeanette White (D-Windham) – YES

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By Rob RoperRob Roper

After watching the debate in the State House over the $15 minimum wage it is hard to see how any rational or compassionate person could have, at the end of the day, supported the policy. The potential good that it may have done for a small minority of people was far outweighed by the potential damage it would have done to many, especially Vermont’s poor.

One of the facts presented to lawmakers that did not get much play in the media is that a majority of Vermont households living in poverty, particularly the elderly, do not have any wage income. So, while there is no chance that these people’s situations could benefit at all from an artificial increase in salaries, they would certainly be stuck paying higher prices for goods and services artificially inflated by the $15 minimum wage. Fixed incomes, already stretched, would not stretch as far.

The cost for in home care and other services that help the elderly would also become more expensive. Senator Richard Westman (R-Lamoille) noted that, for example, Lamoille Home Health and Hospice would have to raise or charge an extra $80,000 to cover wage increases for their visiting nurses.

Similarly, families with young children would take a substantial hit. Parents who earn minimum or low wage salaries might see a bump in their take home pay (assuming their hours aren’t cut), but due to the “benefits cliff” that bump would be offset by a greater loss in childcare subsidies. The Joint Fiscal Office calculated that a couple working full time in minimum wage jobs with one school-aged child would see an annual income increase by $1,155 in the first year of proposed minimum wage increases, but they would lose $1,334 in benefits.

Adding to that dilemma is the fact that a $15 minimum wage would undoubtedly increase substantially the cost of childcare, which is dependent upon low wage workers, and force some providers to close their doors. So, the couple mentioned above would be left with fewer resources to pay for a more expensive service that is at the same time harder to find. Even the child advocacy group Let’s Grow Kids warned that the wage increase “might even exacerbate the [childcare] situation…”, which they already see as a “crisis.”

The Joint Fiscal Office (JFO) also concluded that the wage increase would result in a net annual long term “disemployment” rate of 2250 jobs from 2028-2050. As a share of total jobs in Vermont this amounts to 0.5%, but as a share of minimum wage jobs, it is 3.3%. In other words, the negative impact of the $15 minimum wage on low wage workers is substantial and disproportionate.

One objective of the $15 minimum wage for its proponents is to help bridge the income inequality gap (even though JFO testified that there is no evidence that the policy would do this). But if some people get a raise from $10.50 to $15 while others lose their jobs and go from $10.50 to zero, wouldn’t that increase income inequality? Especially if the number of minimum wage workers losing their jobs is far greater than the number of higher-wage earners losing their jobs?

The state boasts it will net about $20 million in 2024 (the year the $15 minimum would be in full force) from increased tax revenue plus decreased benefit payments, but remember, this would ironically be money taken away from the same low-income workers the increased wage was supposed to help. On the federal side of the ledger, however, the state would lose an estimate $54 million in lost federal benefits and higher federal taxes. Again, a significant net loss.

Overall, JFO estimated that the impact on state GDP would be negative 0.3 percent. That may seem like a small number, but, in 2017 Vermont real GDP grew by only 1.1 percent. Stifling economic growth isn’t helpful to anyone, particularly the poor. As Rep. Cynthia Browning (D-Arlington), who has a PhD in Economics, warned her colleagues before the vote, “Good intentions and wanting to help won’t suspend the laws of economics.” The majority either didn’t listen or they didn’t care.

Governor Scott was absolutely right to veto the $15 minimum wage bill. Let’s hope he doesn’t have to do so again a year from now, and, if he does, he has the votes to sustain that veto.

– Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. He lives in Stowe

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May 25, 2018

By David Flemming

The stakes are high. Vermont’s special session has the potential to steer our state in the right fiscal direction for years to come, or it could leave us with a disastrous government shutdown. Governor Scott’s “no new taxes” pledge is on a collision course with the legislative leadership’s desire to pay down Vermont’s underfunded pension accounts. But this doesn’t have to be an either/or scenario. In fact, it should be “both.” First, the Governor’s “no new taxes” pledge. A governor that vocally opposes higher property and income taxes is better than having a governor who is ambivalent about the subject. We can be thankful for that.

However, Leadership has a point about the use of one-time funds to prevent property taxes from increasing not being ideal. Vermont can’t count on receiving a $35 million settlement from the tobacco industry and $44 million from unexpected tax revenue every year.

Vermont is not an island. If the second longest US economic expansion on record suddenly turns into a recession, spending will have to decrease or else taxes will increase. The more sound approach would be to figure out a way to structurally lower education spending overall.

Scott’s does do this over the long term, presenting a plan to restructure Vermont’s education system, with potential net savings of around $300 million over five years. The proposal has its detractors, but if his $60 million annual reduction in education spending is a good estimate, that is a starting place.

Acknowledging Scott’s leadership does not have to detract from our legislative leaders’ proposal to pay down the pension fund. House and Senate leadership have advocated using $34 million of the revenue windfall to pay down our unfunded employee and teacher pension liabilities. That proposal is a good conversation starter with taxpayers as to how we might pay our retiring teachers and other employees. According to Vermont’s Joint Fiscal Office (JFO), Vermont has not planned on how to pay for the nearly $4 billion in pensions and retirement benefits, as of June 2016. This number is larger now, and will only continue to grow so long as Vermont fails to cut government spending and keeps taxes where they are.

If Vermont’s pensions and benefits increase to the point that creditors doubt Vermont taxpayers will ever be able to foot the bill, interest rates on our bonds will skyrocket and Vermont would be forced out of necessity to increase taxes and dramatically cut public services, something that neither Republicans or Democrats would enjoy. We need only to look at the situation in Illinois. After the state’s powerful unions prevented Illinois from decreasing its pensions and benefits, the state’s bonds have become next to worthless.

And for the progressives who say “we can just raise taxes” if this worst-case scenario for pensions comes to pass, our “service level solvency” ranks 48 out of 50 states. This means that, in the event of a drop in revenue from a recession, Vermont’s economy would be hard pressed to remain afloat after tax increases, leading to more incomes leaving Vermont, with even higher taxes for those who remain.

If we were to assume the best of Gov. Scott and legislative leadership, both sides would use this special session to work together to pay down Vermont’s pension accounts, lowering property taxes permanently, and finding ways to cut out non-essential government programs, thus avoiding a government shutdown.

While neither side likes the shutdown scenario, the hard lines put forward by both sides leave this open as a distinct possibility. If Scott and the legislature fail to reach a compromise by June, no emergency funds can be taken from the state treasury without legislation, as stipulated by the Vermont Constitution. This being the case, we could see a shutdown sometime in July. While some fiscal libertarians might rejoice, even the most basic of government services could be affected, such as law enforcement and nursing, leaving thousands without the care they need.

Worse still, a shutdown could exacerbate the pension crisis. Interest rates on state bonds would rise, making it more difficult for Vermont to borrow money for our unfunded pension, thus raising the specter of higher taxes and reduced government services in the years to come.

Vermont is in a precarious position. For years, Vermont’s government leaders have chosen to look the other way in regards to our uncompetitive tax rates are and unfunded pensions. Voters haven’t held them accountable because the the long term consequences of these policies haven’t been felt in the context of a strong national economy.

If we do nothing, our high tax rates and underfunded liabilities will slowly siphon enough capital away from Vermont that we will begin to look upon the past couple of decades as the glory years. Not a pretty thought if you look at the lack of development in the more rural parts of our state.

So, here’s hoping that in this special session two rights don’t make a wrong, and that both sides get what they want.

David Flemming is a policy analyst for the Ethan Allen Institute.

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May 25, 2018

by John McClaughry

The state of California, always eager to lead the green parade, has now decreed a solar PV requirement for new homes.

Under the new requirements, decreed by the California energy commission , builders must take one of two steps: make individual homes available with solar panels, or build a shared solar-power system serving a group of homes. In the case of rooftop panels, they can either be owned outright and rolled into the home price, or made available for lease on a monthly basis.

The requirement is expected to add $8,000 to $12,000 to the cost of a home.

The spokesman for the building industry trade group said “Our druthers would have been to have this delayed another two or three years,” But he was not surprised. “We’ve known this was coming,” he said.

For residential homeowners, based on a 30-year mortgage, the Energy Commission estimates that the standards will add about $40 to an average monthly payment, but save consumers $80 on monthly heating, cooling and lighting bills.

Now most homeowners persuaded that installing solar PV panels on their new home would cost them $40 a month, but save them $80 a month and increase the value of the home, would likely say yes to that deal. But that’s not good enough for the Golden Nanny State. It has to force them to take the deal if they want a new home. How long before this bad idea turns up in Montpelier?

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

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May 24, 2018

by Rob Roper

Governor Scott’s staff presented the Administration’s plans for, primarily, preventing an increase in property tax rates this year and, long term, to create a five-year plan for getting some meaningful control over the Education Fund and saving hundreds of millions of dollars. Underlying the whole issue is Scott’s overarching promise not to raise taxes or fees.

Adam Greshin, the commissioner of finance and management, pointed out that the state has benefited from unanticipated revenue of roughly $160 million this past year, and, as such, there should be no need whatsoever to raise taxes. Good point.

The Governor’s plan, in a nutshell, is to use $34 million of the above mentioned unanticipated revenue as “one time funds” to hold property tax rates in line for this year, then put into place reforms that would generate net savings of roughly $300 million (gross savings of around $500 million) over the next five years. Some of those savings would be used to pay back the use of the one-time funds. The rest of the net, so the Administration pitched, would be “reinvested” into things like higher education, expanded pre-k programs, addressing pension liabilities.

Not a property tax cut?

Greshin bent over backwards to state and re-state in a variety of terms and phrases that this is “a reallocation of funds within the Ed Fund.” It’s not a cut in spending. At one point he assured legislators, as if this were a selling point, that, “We could actually have more money in education as a result.”

What?

If you can generate nearly half a billion dollars in savings on education spending in Vermont, shouldn’t CUTTING property taxes at least be on the list of things to do with the savings, and fairly high on the list at that. If Vermont property taxes are unaffordable today, merely holding the line on them does not make them affordable – it freezes the unaffordability in place! (Though it is certainly better than the Democratic alternative of higher property taxes as far as the eye can see.)

The Governor and his staff deserve a lot of credit for putting forward a number of proposals that could result in efficiencies and savings in public education. Even if the savings turn out to be $100 million rather than $300 million, that would be worth while. We can certainly agree on that. What to do with the savings? That might be a fight we have to wage down the road.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

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by John McClaughry

For the past 20 years Vermont state government has aggressively worked to get Vermonters to abandon internal combustion vehicles (ICVs) in favor of electric vehicles (EVs) of both hybrid and all-electric types. The favored method in those early years was to adopt California emission standards by requiring auto dealers to sell quotas of EVs.

The dealers resisted on the reasonable grounds that most car buyers aren’t interested in EVs, mainly because of excessive prices, “range anxiety”, safety concerns, and battery failures in cold weather.

Gov. Peter Shumlin’s 2011 Comprehensive Energy Plan, founded on combating the menace of global warming, reiterated support of low- and zero-emission vehicle programs. It declared an EV goal of 25% of all vehicles registered by 2030. (It’s now less than 2%). Its 2016 update called for “a large-scale transformation to alternatively fueled vehicles that reduce petroleum usage and related emissions with advanced technologies and fuels (such as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, all-electric vehicles, and fuel-cell electric vehicles.)”

The Department of Environmental Conservation is now focusing on creating more and faster public EV charging stations. (There were 1395 EVs registered in October 2016, 0.3% of Vermont’s 450,000 passenger vehicles; there are now 164 charging stations.)

Today’s EVs run smoothly and quietly and look good. They insulate owners from fuel price volatility and supply shortages, and in most states from fuel taxes.

But EVs do not come without problems. Even though 13 manufacturers now offer vastly improved EVs with greater ranges and lower prices, and the $7,500 Federal tax credit is still available, there has not been a rush to buy EVs. Most of the EVs sold are bought by high income purchasers. A 2015 study found that buyers of the lower-cost Ford Focus EV had an average household income of $199,000, more than three times the U.S. median household income. Tesla owners’ incomes averaged $293,200.

Power train repairs require expert technicians. Many EV models are not attractive for rural roads, or where winter weather diminishes their battery capacity by as much as 35%. Even where a charging station is convenient, there can be “charging time trauma”. Public charging stations primarily use 240-volt (Level 2) chargers that charge a Tesla Model 3 in 6.5 hours. Motorists won’t find that acceptable on the Interstate.

Since EVs use the highways but don’t purchase gas or diesel fuel, they escape the tax used to support highway maintenance. To deal with this, seventeen states now impose additional licensing or registration fees on these vehicles. Vermont has studied this in depth three times since 2013. The most recent report reaffirms that “registration fees should not be increased … until the market for EVs moves beyond an early adopter phase”, which they think won’t end until 15% of passenger vehicles are electric (68,000!).

Will replacement of ICVs by EVs reduce harmful pollutants? After a long and complex analysis, economist and former Vermont DPS planner Dr. Jonathan Lesser finds, in a paper just published (“Short Circuit”, Manhattan Institute), that  “subsidies and mandates designed to accelerate migration from ICVs to ZEVs would result in greater emissions of criteria air pollutants—SO2, NOx, and particulates—but lower emissions of CO2. Thus, one of the key claims used to justify ZEV subsidies and mandates to replace ICVs—that they will reduce levels of criteria air pollutants—is unsupported.”

“Although the analysis shows that ZEVs will reduce CO2 emissions relative to an equivalent number of ICVs, the reductions will have no impact on climate and, hence, no

economic benefit. This will be true even if ZEVs were powered using electricity generated only from renewable sources.”

The just-passed transportation bill tasks the Public Utilities Commission with reporting on just where the ZEV push is taking us. It includes a commendable provision that the PUC study the barriers to EV charging, “including strategies… to reduce operating costs for current and future EV users without shifting costs to ratepayers who do not own or operate EVs.” Whether legislators adopt such strategies remains to be seen.

What conclusions should legislators draw about Vermont’s long-running EV campaign? In a nutshell, the state should: aggressively reduce regulatory barriers to encourage EV usage by those who perceive its advantages; charge EVs a registration surcharge so that EVs pay their fair share of upkeep of Vermont’s highways and bridges; designate and permit public sites for charging stations, but price the energy delivered by publicly-owned chargers to pay off their costs; allow utilities and other private companies to install their own chargers at those and other sites; and abandon any compulsion to regulate and spend to reach any arbitrary goal of  “X% of all vehicles shall be electric by 20XX”.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute (www.ethanallen.org)

 

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May 22, 2018

By Rob Roper

Leftists take white, heterosexual boys and force them by law, every day, into left-dominated classrooms where they are told day in and day out by a phalanx of authority figures that they are the source of all the evil in the world. The fact that they are white means that they are inherently racist. Male: their masculinity is “toxic” and they are sexist and oppressive to women. Heterosexual: bigoted and privileged.

The Left bombards these kids in school and in popular culture with messaging that, by implication, their lives do not matter, their history needs to be eradicated, and their perspectives are warped and do not deserve to be considered (shouted down or suppressed violently if necessary).

Meanwhile, liberal Hollywood makes millions plying them with entertainment glorifying violence and revenge. They market video games to these adolescent boys desensitizing them to the concept of shooting masses of people for fun and with no consequences. Liberal social media companies get rich fostering in them a distorted desire for public recognition by strangers while disconnecting them from real human interaction and relationships.

The liberal media profits by exploiting mass shootings for ratings, giving the most disturbed actors the “fame” they crave and thereby encouraging copy cats.

At the same time these white, heterosexual boys are taught by these same liberals that everyone is special, everyone gets to participate, and everyone gets a trophy, thus leaving them totally unprepared psychologically when, for example, a young lady tells them, no, I don’t think you’re special, no you do not get to participate with me, and, most certainly, you do not get a “trophy.”

Then, all these leftists are shocked – yes shocked – when some of these boys snap in the worst possible way. Must be the NRA’s fault.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

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June 12, 2018 By David Flemming Will your taxes increase or won’t they? As EAI has written on previously, there aren’t any mainstream proposals from the Governor or...

End of “Net Neutrality” Already Benefiting Vermonters

June 12, 2018 by Rob Roper The 2015 “net neutrality” rules passed by the FCC in 2015 are now officially dead. When the Trump administration announced that it...

Vermont: The Hapless Blue State

June 11, 2018 by Chris Campion Vermont, fresh off the news that the state’s idea of fixing its legacy of opposition to business and economic growth is to pay...

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