Vermonters: Thrifty, in Spite of Lower Incomes, Higher Taxes and Irresponsible Legislators

August 2, 2019

By David Flemming

Vermonters are falling behind the rest of New England in terms of tax competitiveness and income growth. Thankfully, we haven’t used our legislators’ poor behavior as an excuse to live beyond our means.

Vermonters had a lower median household income than all other New England states, aside from Maine in 2017. Mass., New Hamp., Conn. and R. Island all had median household incomes that exceeded Vermont by at least $3000. You might think that such a huge gap in incomes might spell more bankruptcies in Vermont than elsewhere.

In fact, Vermonters are actually the least likely New Englanders to file for bankruptcy. Bankruptcies were 64% more common among New Hampshirites than Vermonters in 2017.

This could be for any number of reasons: differences in costs of basic living expenses, differences in costs of “must have” luxuries that encourage living beyond one’s means, or strong family and community structures that encourage mutual support.

Despite mounting taxes and stagnant incomes, Vermonters are resilient. If I had to guess, we resist the urge to purchase shiny new baubles that others say will make our lives better. Accordingly, we pay less interest on debt than our neighbors. Our legislators like to pat themselves on the back for being virtuous public servants. But if our pension crisis created by our legislators is any clue, perhaps it is we, the working class Vermonters who exhibit greater fiscal virtue.

There is a world of difference between Vermont legislators and Vermonters in general. Despite an antagonistic business landscape which discourages income growth, despite higher taxes, despite our legislators willingness to spend our tax dollars on unnecessary baubles, despite all of that…. we refuse to use such irresponsible behavior from “our brightest” as an excuse to buy debt-financed items that we don’t need.

As households, we are more financially responsible than other New Englanders, and more financially responsible than our own legislators who hold the public purse. It is time that our legislators learn that we, the taxpayers, know how to handle our money better than they ever could. They must regain our respect before they start asking for more tax dollars.

David Flemming is a policy analyst at the Ethan Allen Institute

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Pat Finnie August 17, 2019 at 2:11 pm

Maybe we are “thrifty” because of lower income, higher taxes and most importantly, irresponsible legislators. We’ve had to do more with less thanks too those spendthrifts under the “Golden Dumb”. (no, that’s not a typo) They need to be sent a message, quit “helping” me !

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

About Us

The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.
Read more...

Latest News

Train Scheme Comes Off Tracks

December 6, 2019 by Rob Roper A little backstory for those who may have missed it…. David Blitterdorf of All Earth Renewables purchased some 1950’s era passenger rail...

China to Cancel Out all Vermont CO2 emissions

December 5, 2019 by John McClaughry Conferees from 195 countries are meeting in Madrid this week to wage more war against carbon dioxide. The climate hawks must be chagrined...

Help Us Make a Difference in 2020!

Dear Friend of Liberty, .         This past September we all witnessed The Climate Strike and Week of Action as angry mobs of disgruntled Leftists blocked...

E-Cigarette Ban Is Bad Policy

November 22, 2019 by Rob Roper So, some Vermont legislators and the governor are considering a ban on flavored e-cigarettes and menthol-flavored tobacco cigarettes when they return in...

Scott’s Net Metering Cutback

November 20, 2019 by John McClaughry Three weeks ago Gov. Phil Scott said at a news conference that he supports cutting price supports for solar photoelectric power. It’s...

Video