TALK FROM BARRE TOWN:
As I door knock I ask people what is their biggest issue. The most frequent one is how much taxes the middle class – what is left of it – has to pay. People in general want to help those less fortunate but feel they cannot continue to do so. Although one person mentioned it, few people wonder about the wealthy paying more or at least their fair share. People seem more concerned that the poor are getting a free ride and they feel that is unfair. Below are the most recent comments.
The biggest issue as I see it is that the middle class is getting squeezed from both ends. We have to pay for the wealthy who don’t pay their share and we have to pay for the poor who can’t pay. Why do we have to pay for everything? I can’t keep doing it. Soon there won’t be any of us left to pay for anything.
I completely agree!! Data shows that here in VT total taxation breaks down as follows: Vermonters earning $19,000-$38,000 pay 9.5% in state and local taxes; those making $38,000-$58,000 pay 10.5%; people earning $58,000-$88,000, pay 9.4%; while those earning more than $88,000 a year pay 8.7% and those earning more than $391,000 a year pay only 7.7%. In Vermont, those living below the poverty line as well as those in the middle class pay MORE taxes than the wealthy. This serves to keep the rich wealthy, the middle class barely making ends meet, and the poor unable to break free of the cyclical nature of poverty. When the poor are highly burdened with taxation, it only serves to diminish their ability to be self-sustaining which, through no fault of their own, perpetuates the need for more public assistance. This is clearly a broken system that needs reform. We need to turn the tax expectation on its head and make life more affordable for struggling Vermonters.
I am fed up with Montpelier and their taxes and lack of concern for us and voted Republican to slap them on the rear.
I understand your feeling. I am also concerned with the lack of sensitivity to the needs of Vermonters. Unfortunately, a vote for Republicans is not always the best answer. While Republicans do tend to be more fiscally conservative and promise to reduce taxes, the reality is a lot more complex, and often does not work in favor of the average Vermonter, but aids those who are most wealthy.
People on welfare don’t have to have a drug test to get their money. But workers have to have drug tests to be able to work. So drug dealers are doing drugs and getting tax payer money. Why is this?
It is because that, in the states that test welfare applicants for drugs, the number that actually test positive is so low that it is inefficient to do so. According to state data gathered by ThinkProgress, the seven states with existing programs — Arizona, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah — spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to ferret out very few drug users. Statistics show that welfare applicants actually test positive at a lower rate than the general population. The national drug use rate is 9.4 %. In all except one state, welfare recipients test positive in less than 1% of the cases. Meanwhile, those states have collectively spent nearly $1 million on the effort, and millions more may have to be spent in coming years.
I grew up on welfare and needed the support. I work now and have a good job with benefits and I am educating my children. I support assistance for those that need it, for families and children. But some people take advantage of it. I don’t approve of that.
There are those who would truly not be able to survive without the benefits that they receive from the state, and it is important that we help them get back on their feet. There are those that cleverly jump through the loopholes in our system, and while we need to address abuse of the system, we need to make sure that we are doing it by the most efficient means possible.
Health Care and a Single Payer System:
I am a small business owner and had a good system set up before the state tried to enact single payer. I had an allowance for medical expenses of $2,000 for each of my employees. Often people did not spend that much. Now with minimum pays of close to $6,000 per person health care is killing me.
We need to remove health care from business costs. In creating a general graduated tax for it, we remove what have become prohibitive business costs and spread the costs among all of us, like with social security and medicare. We also need to reduce health care costs. Hospitals in Vermont, over the past 10 years have seen their profits triple. With a reduction in hospital costs, insurance costs can go down. I also think we need to re-evaluate non-profit entities whose CEOs and upper management make some of the highest salaries in the state yet who, yearly, increase premium costs for those least able to pay.
Air and Noise Pollution by the Local Asphalt Plant:
It is the siting of the plant that is the problem.
To get rid of the asphalt plant would be disastrous to the families who depend on the employment it provides. One action that could be taken for the good of the people of Barre Town, the environment and safety of the workers would be to require them to abide by their permits. At this time it is questionable whether they meet those requirements. Permits need to be followed and enforced and we need the personnel to ensure that. When a plant is poorly sited, it is important that the environmental and social impacts are minimized as much as possible. The better choice is to thoughtfully review impacts and siting before implementation and listen to the concerns and needs of those on whom the plant will have the most direct effect. If there are legal loopholes that allow for poor siting and adverse impacts on neighborhoods, then they need to be closed.
Windmills on Ridge Lines and the Carbon Tax:
Carbon taxes are just more taxes on us.
In theory a carbon tax should be revenue neutral. This means the tax raised from taxing carbon emissions can be used to reduce other taxes. There should be no overall increase in the tax burden. The aim is to increase social efficiency by making people aware of the full social cost. The carbon tax can be decreased by more efficient transportation, heating, and energy policies. These energy policies can save the vast majority of Vermonters money compared to current usage policies. Check http://www.economicshelp.org/blog/2207/economics/carbon-tax-pros-and-cons/ for more information.
Windmills on ridges harm them and create other environmental impacts.
I believe we should not place state industrial windmills on our ridge lines. While we need to improve our energy sources and reduce energy consumption in order to preserve our planet, I oppose destroying the delicate ecosystems on our ridge lines and negatively affecting nearby owners and communities. Whatever energy decisions are made, those most affected by them should have a large voice in determining how and where they are enacted.
The problem is that I know people that live in apartments and have children and don’t pay taxes while my mother who is on a fixed income has to pay school taxes even though she has no children.
I am for a graduated income tax for supporting schools. That can provide a stable source of school funding that is fair. Those who can least afford to pay will pay less, while those that can most afford to pay, will pay more. With a graduated income tax, everyone pays, including those who rent.
Case workers are spread so thin that it is hard to get in to see anyone.
There are essentials in our social programs that need to be addressed. When we cut budgets, human services are the first that have been cut. We need to re-prioritize our budgets so that essentials such as mental health are given the budgetary support necessary for meeting the needs within our State.
Additionally, we need to create a robust mental health system, treating drug use as a mental health issue rather than a criminal issue. The money that we save on the criminal system can be spent on prevention and proper treatment, and in the long term can save the state millions – on arresting, prosecuting, sentencing, processing, and imprisoning users.
Imprisoning Non-Violent Offenders:
Access to voting in prisons is not easy.
Vermont is one of only is not that easy.two states that allow a prisoner to vote. As a member of the League of Women Voters, I have voiced my concerns for voting rights for our prison population. I support ensuring that prisoners can exercise that right and are informed and supported in exercising it.
Men in prison don’t get to see their kids. They are sent out of state and it is impossible for families to get to Kentucky or Michigan.
I oppose out-of-state incarceration. It increases recidivism and is costly.
Men don’t have a parenting program in prison. There is one for women with addictions where they can be housed with their children but there is nothing for men.
Father absence negatively affects children’s social and emotional development which persists into adolescence increasing risky behaviors. To give fathers and children their best chance at a healthy relationship, we need to provide fathers with the tools for rehabilitation and improvement during incarceration. In the long term, these investments can reduce costs in our over-all human services and improve human potential for those and their families that are involved in the criminal system.
Non-violent offenders should be put in rehab as opposed to being locked up. Human contact and involvement with education for fathers and a more holistic approach to addictions are better options than just giving them pills.
As stated above, we need to treat drug use as a mental health issue and not a criminal one. Doing so can reduce the cost of incarceration and assist in getting the required help and support to those with drug related issues so they can get back on their feet and recover. In the long run, doing so can reduce fiscal and human costs. Our prisons are over populated with non-violent offenders. Legalizing cannabis and releasing cannabis related offenders can help reduce those populations.