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Friday, March 03, 2006

Who's behind an affordable VT?

Just about to watch the Ch. 3 news as we usually do every weeknight, half-expecting another Tarrant ad, when we heard the words, "They're at it again..." A quick cut to a scene of the statehouse, with quick mentions of universal health care, sales tax, statewide preschool, and eminent domain... (things that of course Jeremy and I believe the government shouldn't be dealing with).
At the very end of the ad, there's tiny text at the bottom of the screen, saying, "Paid for by an affordable VT"

Hoping to get more info from the ad by seeing it again during the newscast, but it didn't reappear...
anyone heard of this organization or know who's behind the ad?


She's Right said...

Hey Heavenly.

I found this story. It talks about a coalition of business groups called Organizations for Affordable Vermont. It sounds like it might be the same group.


Heavenly said...

Hello Charity,

Thanks for the link...
unfortunately, still not much info from the article; looks like this group's hard to find information about.

Here's their mention in the 'Senate takes up health reform as support grows for House plan' article:

But the other business group, Organizations for Affordable Vermont, said it merely would drive up costs, especially combined with other tax increase proposals in the House. "This laundry list of legislative initiatives heads Vermont in the wrong direction," said Shawn Banfield, state director of the National Federation of Vermont Businesses. "The added costs will make Vermont less affordable to live and do business."

Searching for the National Federation of Vermont Businesses on yahoo doesn't bring up much. Perhaps they will be more active, as a fellow Libertarian in Rutland recently heard a radio ad the group has out as well:

"Organizations for an affordable Vermont"?

They're running a radio ad down here by me (Rutland, Rock 105). If it had said it was paid for by us, I'd have only wondered where we got the money. Jaw dropper opposition to the health care bill in Montpelier. Direct, aggressive attack ad, never mentions either party. The title is probably "Don't bite the hand that feeds you". Even has a cute throw away line near the end to the effect "they don't want you to clip your dog's ears, but they're happy to clip you".

We'll be sure to stay tuned...

Hardy Machia said...

Organizations for Affordable Vermont

For Immediate Release Contact: Shawn Banfield
March 2, 2006 Tel 802-498-0059

Legislative Proposals Threaten Vermont Business Owners

MONTPELIER, VT – Seven prominent statewide organizations came together to draw attention to a laundry list of costly legislation under consideration by the Vermont General Assembly. The costs are quickly adding up, making Vermont one of the least affordable states to live and do business. The organizations represent Vermont’s small-business sector and more than 8,000 members collectively. Small business is vital to the financial well-being of Vermont’s economy. In 2004, the latest available figures, there were an estimated 74,957 small businesses in Vermont; representing a diverse group of entrepreneurs, innovators and small business owners.

This morning, Organizations for Affordable Vermont urged the Vermont Small Business Caucus to take a look at this laundry list and assist them in turning these issues around. The issues cross the spectrum from blatant tax and fee increases to silent but deadly schemes that unsuspecting Vermont taxpayers will pay without even realizing it.

“We have come together because this laundry list currently under consideration has a price tag of more than $190 million, the most costly being health care. These added costs will make it all the more difficult for small business to make ends meet,” said Shawn Banfield, State Director of NFIB/VT.

“Small businesses make up 96.8% of all Vermont employers - they are the cornerstone of the Vermont economy,” said Ms. Banfield, and went on to say, “our members need the legislature to look at the collective list of initiatives rather than the issues in the individual silos.”

Health Care
The group understands that the Catamount Health Plan is intended to eventually cover about 25 percent of the 65,000 Vermonters who are currently without health insurance. The increased cost to the state by 2010 is upwards of $132 million, which would be raised through new taxes at the state of level of $66 million, as well as, by obtaining $66 million in matching funds from the federal government.

Some of the organizations represented at Thursday’s press conference had spent months developing an alternative health care proposal that would implement a number of consumer-friendly cost containment measures intended to help drive down the cost of health care in Vermont.

Jason Smith of Rutland Pharmacy said “the biggest cost to small business is the cost shift created by underpayments made to doctors and hospitals by Medicare and Medicaid. The legislature is all but ignoring this very important component of the equation.”

“The Catamount Health Plan essentially expands a program that is under-funding providers. So why in the world would legislators further exacerbate this situation and on top of it all use tobacco taxes, a declining revenue source, to do it”, said Jim Harrison, President of the Vermont Grocers’ Association.

Minimum Wage & Workers’ Comp.
Jim Pratt, Vermont Chamber of Commerce Chairman of the Board, said "Minimum wage and workers' compensation issues rank among the highest in costs associated with running our members' businesses. Increasing the cash wage to tipped employees and not addressing some simple workers' compensation changes this session will further worsen the state's anti-business reputation."

“It’s all well and good that lawmakers talk about passing legislation to make the lives of Vermonters more affordable. But the long list of fees and taxes that hit our members directly threatens the very existence of the small-business community,” said Gail Horne, owner of Keeler’s Bay Variety and Chairman of the Vermont Grocers’ Association.

Property Taxes
Under consideration are a number of issues that will increase the upward pressure on property taxes; growth centers, eminent domain, pre-K schooling, an increase in the property transfer tax, as well as state and local spending.

“Currently Vermont is seeing revenue increases in the property transfer tax - we don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem”, said Chris Snyder, Vice President of Snyder Company in Essex. “This type of taxation policy just puts additional upward pressure on property taxes,” continued Mr. Snyder.

Price Gouging and Gas Tax
Legislation currently under consideration would effectively dictate to fuel companies how they can respond to volatile wholesale markets. The hedging requirements, while intended to protect consumers, do not allow for dealers to respond in the event that wholesale prices collapse during a heating season. Dealers will be forced to buy contracts when under this law they will have absolutely no protection from having to take high price contracts they were forced to buy in the interest of protecting consumers. Avoidable costs forced upon fuel companies will translate into higher consumer prices in the long run as dealers will have to recoup their expenses.

Sean Cota, President of Cota & Cota Oil & Propane in Bellows Falls said, “It’s ironic that at the same time the fuel industry is facing legislative scrutiny for its alleged price gouging, they are simultaneously increasing the price of diesel and gasoline by 6-cents a gallon; a 30% and 23% increase respectively.”

Shane Sweet, Executive Director of Vermont Fuel Dealers said, “The notion of a 6-cent increase in the price of gasoline and diesel comes at a time when Vermont consumers are already struggling to pay high fuel costs. This increase will eliminate the competitive tax advantage that Vermont now has against its border competitors. Vermont based motor fuel dealers know full well that a 6-cent increase will send gasoline sales as well as other related sales across the border to NH. Further, this doubles the diesel tax disadvantage that Vermont has by raising the differential from 6 to 12-cents a gallon. No one is going to buy diesel in Vermont when they can cross into NH and save 12-cents a gallon.”

Appliance Standards
Equipment manufacturers are indicating that the proposed appliance standard legislation would limit the number of models that will be offered for sale; increasing the cost to the consumer for the average furnace or boiler. For instance, the proposal to essentially eliminate oil fired boilers of less than 82 percent efficiency removes an entire line of boiler models that provide ample heat and are the best option for some customers. The wholesale cost of ultra-high efficiency gas equipment is double that of those between 80 and 90 percent, and would impose an unnecessary burden on low income households with limited discretionary income.

“Competitively, companies that sell heating equipment into Vermont from outside our borders will be faced with maintaining separate and distinct product inventory should they elect at all to sell into Vermont, and to the best our knowledge, no one manufactures a 90+ percent efficient gas furnace for replacement of existing mobile home furnaces, so there appears to be no way that mobile home owners could comply,” said Mat Stevens, President of Stevens Gas Service in Essex Junction.

Vermont ranks as the 12th highest tax burden state in the country and is ranked as having the 45th worst business climate in the country. Vermont spends $2,123 per capita; while the U.S. average is $1,986 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Vermont is ranked as the 6th highest spending state on state and local government. Vermont is the second smallest state based on population and has one of the most expensive individual income tax systems and the corporate income tax rate is among the highest in the nation.

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Heavenly said...

Thanks for posting the article Hardy!

As some of the readers may know, Hardy Machia is a former gubernatorial Libertarian Party candidate. His blog is located at:

It appears this organization is trying to stand up to the statehouse for the taxpayers of Vermont; something that I think everyone can agree with.