Small Business Viability

January 8, 2020

by John McClaughry

Shawn Shouldice is the longtime Vermont representative of the National Federation of Independent Business, and she’s concerned about a legislature that seems to have little interest in anything that would be a boost to Vermont’s small businesses.

“As the legislature convenes in Montpelier,” she writes, “there are many legislative initiatives that will increase the cost of doing business and hinder the owner’s ability to operate and to succeed.” She explains that over half of the Vermont workforce is employed by small businesses (63.3%), and there are 77,615 small businesses in the state. She says “expanding paid leave funded with a payroll tax, artificially increasing Vermont’s base wage, double-digit property tax increases, fuel taxes [TCI] and higher health insurance premiums” mean trouble for these businesses.

“With more and more Vermonters seeking greener pastures, placing more financial pressure on the state’s small businesses is endangering job creation and the ability for workers to meet their financial needs,” said Shouldice.

Vermont’s small businesses aren’t asking for subsidies. The exception is renewable energy small businesses, which need subsidies to stay alive. Shouldice wants lawmakers to focus on policies that spark economic growth rather than adding cost to already hard pressed local companies.

That’s not a call for a chance to feed at the public trough. Most small businesses just want to be left alone to sell their goods and services to the public. That’s a thought that legislators need to get through their heads. Alas, many haven’t.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

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