December 28, 2017
I am sure that, like me, you are somewhat relieved in leaving 2017 behind us. The level of political turmoil and uncertainty about big issues like health care and income taxes has been exhausting. However, there may be cause for even more apprehension heading into 2018.
In August Vermonters received news that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont (BCBS-VT) insurance premiums will rise 9.2%, the largest increase ever. Over three-quarters of all Vermonters in the individual insurance market receive coverage through BCBS-VT. For a standard family silver level plan, this means an increase of nearly $113 per month, or $1,352 per year.
December rolled around, and with it the annual letter from the Tax Commissioner recommending a statewide property tax rate to the Legislature. These hardly ever offer good news for Vermont property taxpayers, but this year was particularly distressing. Homeowners can expect a 9.4 cent increase in their property taxes next year. On a $200,000 house, this would mean an increase of $188 on a family's property tax bill.
Right on the heels of this development, Green Mountain Power announced they had reached an agreement with the Public Service Board for a 5% rate increase. This constitutes another $80 million out of Vermonters pockets.
All told, Vermont families can expect to spend $2,052 more out of pocket in 2018, just on property taxes, health insurance, and electricity. We haven’t even touched gasoline or heating fuel prices and Legislators have yet to arrive in Montpelier. I don’t have another two grand lying around in my family budget, and I’m betting you don’t either. So, how did we get here and what do we do about it?
You may have guessed that these are not necessarily easy questions to answer, and likewise their solutions may not be simple. Over the next several weeks we will be publishing a series of blog posts about affordability in Vermont and why we are seeing such increases in cost of living. Most importantly we will be offering specific ideas about how we can address these costs increases.
Campaign for Vermont has been a consistent voice for transparency and accountability in state government, sustainable budgeting, and economic prosperity for all Vermonters. We have a long history of proposing innovative solutions to address rising costs like property taxes and utility rates. But we are a nonprofit organization, our work is funded by our supporters. Make a contribution today to help give us the ammunition to fight rising costs like health care and property taxes and position Vermont for a 21st century economy.
We hope you have a great new-year celebration enjoyed with family and friends.
Executive Director, Campaign for Vermont Prosperity