By Kevin Joseph Ryan
John Cronin is a man you have never heard of. Maybe you should find out what he’s done. Because for 17 years, Mr. Cronin worked at IBM and secured over 100 patents for the company. He then started the IBM Patent Factory, eventually making IBM number one in patents for the United States, then forming the IP Capital Group, one of the world’s leading companies for intellectual property consulting. He did this right here in Williston, Vermont.
This may be why Randy Brock, the Republican Candidate for Vermont Governor chose to hold his latest press conference at Mr. Cronin’s place of business. On Monday, October 1, Brock presented the latest theme in his campaign this year, which he entitled “Real Solutions”, in which he outlined plans to create job growth here in the state. Earlier this year, Brock was quoted as saying, “Vermont is rapidly moving away from its proud heritage of self-reliance, independence, and individualism to a state of less freedom, bigger government, greater dependence on government’s largess and the high taxes and borrowing necessary to pay for it.” It seems Brock would like to turn this trend around and see more Vermonters doing what John Cronin was able to do, namely succeed here.
To that end, Brock is attempting to establish that while Vermont is a quality state, the costs associated with living and doing business here are simply too high. Brock noted what he has been hearing on the trail, echoing the voices he’s heard, that the costs in Vermont of taxes, education, welfare, doing business and government must come down.
Along this theme, Brock posed his current thoughts on the topic, “Most Vermonters recognize that our state is a tough place to do business. As much as we don’t like it, many commentators, both inside and outside Vermont, are telling us that. We’ve been rated as the highest tax state in America, as the second worst state in which to retire, and as the state with the lowest gross domestic product per employee in the nation.”
Brock did wax slightly rhetorical, citing a statistic that under current Governor Peter Shumlin, Vermont seasonally adjusted workforce dropped slightly by 1,900 workers, when in fact it increased slightly by 4,700, according to newspaper Seven Days. In either case, the correct number is a far-cry from Shumlin’s claim of adding 7,500 jobs. Even Randy Brock has noted that statistics can be flexible as the speaker wishes to make them, and so he has offered that in general, those he has talked to sense higher unemployment and under-employment far beyond the official Vermont rate of 5.3%.
There should be no doubt that both Mr. Shumlin and Mr. Brock will be addressing these points in days ahead, as soon as Tuesday, October 2, when they both speak publicly at the Renewables Conference at the Sheraton Hotel in South Burlington at 4:30 PM, the speaking portion of the event being open to the public.
For Brock’s part, he offered 25 specific proposals to further and spur economic growth in the state. Among the highlights, he proposed:
- Ranking government programs in order of priority to see which are of the least importance and can be eliminated.
- Simplify and flatten the tax code of Vermont to provide less loopholes and greater understanding of the code and compliance.
- Being watchful of sweetheart deals being introduced as energy policy, in regards to purchases made by the state from companies with political connections versus practical value.
- Being supportive of EB-5 foreign investment, which offers opportunities for citizenship to high-level investors, which both leading candidates endorse.
- And, being as supportive as possible of the Vermont brand, giving the example of expanding the Vermont dairy industry by utilizing dedicated processing facilities in New England for pure Vermont milk.
Richard Snelling, a former Republican governor of Vermont whose reputation has lived on long past the Governor himself, has been invoked by both sides in this year’s gubernatorial race. First, by Democrat Peter Shumlin, who made the claim that Snelling would have supported his cause of universal single-payer health-care, a claim not well born worn out by the historical record. Today, Republican Randy Brock noted a quote from Mr. Snelling himself, “We have demonstrated that a favorable business climate and a determination to provide the fundamental elements which motivate business decisions can build a stronger economic base.” This seemed to be the Richard Snelling that Randy Brock would like to reflect.