Press Release

Vermont’s Economy Remains Stagnant; More Vermonters Become Unemployed; Many Underemployed

Montpelier, VT – The state unemployment and labor force data for June 2014 was released by the Vermont Department of Labor Monday.

These latest measurements of our state’s economy, job opportunities and workforce once again show that Vermont’s economy remains stagnant, the prospects for new job creation are bleak, and our state’s workforce continues to show no signs of meaningful growth.
The data reminds us that Vermont needs new, forward looking ideas to grow the economy and reduce barriers to the creation of better paying jobs.  And that’s what Vermont’s Republicans offer.
Our fresh, new look at the state’s most significant challenge — growing the economy — and our commitment to an open, balanced and transparent debate about solutions will get results.

Consider that 900 more Vermonters joined the ranks of the unemployed during the month of June and the size of Vermont’s workforce increased just 0.04% (150 workers) in that same time period — not even approaching the amount of jobs or working Vermonters necessary to reverse the loss of more than 8,500 workers since Governor Shumlin first took office.  

If Vermont’s workforce had stayed level since 2011 when Governor Shumlin was elected, with today’s number of unemployed Vermonters, the total unemployment rate would actually be 6.0%.
Vermont’s total employment (seasonally adjusted) is only 500 workers higher than it was in January 2011 when Governor Shumlin took office — an increase of only 0.15% during that time.  
By no one’s definition — except Governor Shumlin’s — does this indicate a strong and thriving economy.
While Governor Shumlin and his Democrat supermajority continue to deny the underlying conditions of our economy and the stress this stagnant economy — and stagnant wages — place on working families, more Vermonters are suffering.
The political elite in Montpelier, and throughout Vermont, are unwilling to recognize this crisis but working Vermonters understand the need for balance — and change — in Montpelier.  
With strategic and forward looking legislation to decrease the cost and barriers to creating jobs  in our state, Vermont Republicans will lead the discussion about making Vermont a better and more affordable place to live and work.
With attention and priority given to to the struggles of small businesses and working families — not just the politically powerful elites — we will be the leading advocates for relief that will assure good jobs are retained and more jobs are created.  
With a comprehensive strategy that works to lower household costs, like utility bills and property taxes, we can bring relief to overburdened Vermonters.
Together — Vermont Republicans, like-minded Independents, Progressives and Democrats — we can restore a vibrant and thriving economy for working families and small businesses if we have greater balance and fresh thinking in Montpelier.

It’s time for a change.

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By Bruce Parker | Vermont Watchdog

A legal defense fund created to defend Vermont’s anti-GMO labeling law got a boost this week after liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org made a massive deposit, more than doubling the fund’s account balance.

“It’s a $53,000 donation that we got from an organization called MoveOn.org,” Sarah Clark, deputy commissioner of Vermont’s Department of Finance & Management, told Vermont Watchdog.

“They said they had been collecting on behalf of the fund from their members and interested parties and would be sending a donation. So that’s what we did receive this week, which essentially more than doubled the balance of the fund.”

The Vermont Food Fight Fund, a special fund created by the Legislature, is on track to raise $1.5 million to defend a state law requiring labeling of foods that may contain genetically modified ingredients. Vermont is the first in the nation to require the labeling of GMOs.

On June 12, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, along with three other trade groups, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell and Gov. Peter Shumlin, arguing that mandatory labeling of GMOs violates commercial free speech rights.

Since then, the Food Fight Fund has grown from about $17,000 to more than $100,000 — mostly with the help of out-of-state donations. As of Friday, nearly 80 percent of the fund’s 964 donations came from outside Vermont.

“There really are a lot from out of state, and even a few from out of the country — primarily, I think, from Canada. So the word has really traveled beyond Vermont’s borders,” Clark said.

MoveOn.org’s commitment to GMO labeling is evidenced by its 2013 campaign to advance GMO label laws in 47 states. The group’s “GMO Labeling Now” events included rallies, phone blitzes on governors and state lawmakers, and even a “Monsanto Challenge taste test” — a takeoff of the Pepsi Challenge, in which consumers famously were asked to sample two colas and pick the one they like most.

As seen in the group’s video, the Monsanto Challenge asks consumers to choose between organic corn and corn grown from Monsanto seeds. Prior to sampling, participants are told one ear of corn contains bacterial pesticide Bt toxin (bacillus thuringiensis). “BT toxin may contribute to blood abnormalities such as anemia or leukemia,” the facilitator says to a taster.

MoveOn.org’s Civic Action division has plenty of cash to throw at Vermont. According to the group’s 990 tax forms, the 501(c)(4) organization received more than $4.1 million in contributions in 2012 — up from $770,000 in 2011.

Rob Roper, president of free market think tank The Ethan Allen Institute, said activist money from MoveOn.org and other donors outside of the state is part of a troubling pattern in which national special interest groups treat Vermonters as “political lab rats.”

“The leadership that we now have in office is aiding and abetting (national special interests) and turning our state into a petri dish — whether the people in the state are in favor of these policies or not,” he said.

MOVE ON: Under the leadership of Executive Director Anna Galland, MoveOn.org's 501(c)(4) Civic Action group has seen its contributions spike to over $4 million — some of which is being funneled to Vermont.

MOVE ON: Under the leadership of Executive Director Anna Galland, MoveOn.org’s 501(c)(4) Civic Action group has seen its contributions spike to over $4 million — some of which is being funneled to Vermont.

“If you’re for GMO labeling or opposed to GMO labeling, everyone in Vermont should be on the same side that we should determine these issues on our own. We shouldn’t be farming out our policies, and the funding of those policies, to anybody — including organizations like MoveOn.org.”

Roper said the same activity is happening on multiple fronts — most notably with health care, in which the Service Employees International Union provides funds to Vermont Leads, a 501(c)(4) organization dedicated to the advancement of a single-payer health care.

Whether one agrees with the labeling of GMOs, the Vermont Food Fight Fund allows people across the nation and world to weigh-in on the issue by funding the state’s legal battle. And with the user-friendly taxpayer-funded website, making a contribution is easy, whether you’re a Vermonter or not.

“It’s pretty open for whatever the individual wants to contribute. You can do it online, or you can mail in a check,” Clark said.

Contact Bruce Parker at bparker@watchdog.org

Bruce Parker is a reporter for Watchdog.org. Prior to joining the organization he was a writer for a leading business publisher. His articles and case studies have appeared in books and publications by Thomson, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Civic Leadership Center. His work has also been featured at The Daily Caller, FoxNews.com, WND, CitySearch, Human Events, The Daily Signal and Catholic Exchange.

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Former VT deputy secretary of administration: State’s economy ‘stagnant’

July 15, 2014

By Bruce Parker | Vermont Watchdog MONTPELIER, Vt. — While leaders of the Gov. Peter Shumlin administration continue to talk of economic recovery, Vermont’s former deputy secretary of administration says 2014 annual revenue shows the state’s economy has become “stagnant.” “They’re slapping a smiley face on near stagnant year-over-year revenue growth,” Tom Pelham said of […]

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VERMONT REPUBLICANS RESPOND TO DEMOCRATS’ DENIAL OF STATE’S ECONOMIC CRISIS

July 10, 2014

Press Release Vermont’s Political Elite Ignore the Struggles of Working Vermonters Montpelier, VT – In a statement released on Tuesday, Vermont Republicans pledged that with the support of voters in November, they would propose and pass legislation that “… focused on supporting small businesses, creating more and better paying Vermont jobs, making Vermont more affordable, […]

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City-owned telecom drains VT taxpayers of millions, bails on access pledge

July 10, 2014

By Bruce Parker | Vermont Watchdog BURLINGTON, Vt. —  A city-owned telecommunications provider sounded like a good idea a decade ago. But as Burlington Telecom seeks to settle a $33 million debt with Citibank, the taxpayers of Burlington are wondering where the city’s money went. Some are wondering if they’ll ever get service. “Our biggest […]

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VT REPUBLICANS COMMENT ON STATE’S FAILING GRADE FOR SMALL BUSINESS FRIENDLINESS

July 9, 2014

Press Release State’s Tax Code, Regulations and License Requirements Add Up to an ‘F’ Grade  Montpelier, VT – A highly respected national magazine has given Vermont an ‘F’ when it comes to encouraging small business.   The study by The Economist (Red Tape Blues, The Economist, July 5, 2014) included results of responses from thousands […]

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VT organic farmer and GMO expert: Labels ‘like skull and crossbones’

July 9, 2014

By Bruce Parker | Vermont Watchdog Will Allen is not just an organic farmer — he’s an expert. As the head of Cedar Circle Farm, Allen brings a lifetime of sustainable farming experience to the 40 acres of vegetables and berries that line the Connecticut River in East Thetford, Vt., on land conserved by the […]

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VTGOP CALLS ON SHUMLIN ADMINISTRATION AND CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION TO HOLD VERMONTERS HARMLESS FOR MORE VERMONT HEALTH CONNECT FAILURES

July 3, 2014

Press Release Statement of VTGOP Chairman David Sunderland “According to a federal audit, thousands of Vermonters could face hefty tax penalties due to more errors in the Vermont Health Connect healthcare exchange system. “These potential fines are the result of more system ‘glitches’ that ‘failed to properly check applicants’ eligibility for coverage and subsidies.’ (Source: Some […]

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IBM may get $4.5 million, other Vermont funds may get shaft

July 3, 2014

By Bruce Parker | Vermont Watchdog Gov. Peter Shumlin’s plan to offer IBM $4.5 million to stay in Vermont — along with its 4,000 jobs — raises serious issues of favoritism and politicking. But as Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding told Vermont Watchdog, finding ways to allocate that cash has been a difficult balancing act […]

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Political mapping tool identifies pockets of red in blue-state Vermont

July 1, 2014

Bruce Parker | Vermont Watchdog Vermont may be the bluest of blue states, but a new political mapping tool reveals that even the most left-leaning states have right-leaning outposts. The What Town Matches My Politics? tool from Clarity Campaign Labs uses seven survey statements to identify red or blue towns in every state. The statements address […]

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