Better late than never

by Robert Maynard

With great fanfare, Governor Shumlin’s office announced today that the Administration and the Democratic leadership in the legislature have decided that they were going to focus on spending cuts rather than increasing taxes as a way of addressing our fiscal situation:

Gov. Peter Shumlin, House Speaker Shap Smith, Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell and key legislative leaders today announced an agreement to avoid raising taxes on Vermonters, and instead focus on spending cuts and efficiencies to achieve a balanced budget for the state.

“We have an agreement among leadership that will allow for a timely adjournment of this session — an agreement that is right for Vermonters now,” the Governor said. “Balancing our budget this session with no additional taxes will help keep our state on a strong path of economic recovery.”

“No additional taxes?”  It would appear that this pledge does not include what the Addison Eagle described as “largest gasoline tax increase in Vermont history.”  It also apparently does not include the earlier “5-cent increase in the statewide property tax” either.  Still, given the additional tax hikes that were being considered, perhaps we should say “better late than never” in response to this belated discovery of what passes in Vermont politics for fiscal discipline.  Now if they can find the wisdom to deep six the idea of raising at least an addition $1.6 billion in new taxes to pay for an ill-advised “government knows best” approach to health care reform, we might find a way out of our fiscal mess.