Penny wise, pound foolish: closing the Salisbury Hatchery doesn’t make long-term financial sense.

Nearly two out of every three Vermont residents hunt, fish or watch wildlife. This is second only to Alaska as a percentage of population participation in these activities. In fact, according to a 2015 University of Vermont study, “the most recent national survey of wildlife-related expenditures, Vermont residents and out-of-state visitors spent approximately $685 million a year on hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing (U.S Fish and Wildlife Service 2012).”

Looking at the latest annual numbers from the American Sportfishing Association, fishing in Vermont by residents and non-residents generates $147.1 million in retail sales, resulting in an additional $225 million of economic impact. It supports more than 2400 jobs and $73.2 million in wages and salaries, while generating $15.9 million in local and state tax revenues.

From the die-hard to the weekend-warrior, the seven-generation Vermonter to the traveling vacationer, Vermont’s angling community has a significant impact on Vermont’s bottom line.

So why does it, in the eyes of the State, make sense to jeopardize this entire industry for want of $250,000?

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Report Summary: Staff to Student Ratios

Following last year’s special session, the Vermont General Assembly instructed the Agency of Education (AOE) to establish a task force to examine staffing patterns among Vermont’s supervisory unions and school districts (SU/SDs). This task force was to examine student:staff ratios across a variety of school configurations and student demographics. One of the stated goals General Assembly requested of the task force was to consider whether staff-to-student ratios should be included in statute for the FY 2021.

This full report can be read at the link here. Below is a brief summary of their findings.

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Commentary: Correct Act 46

This commentary originally appeared in The Caledonian Record. You may read it on their website here.

Click here to contact your legislator and ask them to stop the shenanigans before there is too much damage done to our schools.

Correct Act 46

To the Editors:

I am writing to appeal to Vermont’s legislators to help remedy some of the considerable damage that the uncertainty surrounding Act 46 has done to Vermont’s small towns -such as my home town of Cabot- when they convene in January. Remedies might include maintaining small school grants, reforming special education funding and administration, reforming school funding, and promoting initiatives to support the economic health and vitality of rural communities; such as an expansion of broadband access, funding for community economic vitalization, and education and training relevant for rural Vermont.


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Act 189 Implementation Update

Last year the Vermont Legislature passed H.919 (Act 189). This bill, which Campaign for Vermont (CFV) supported, is a comprehensive workforce development bill that addresses increasing our labor force through a variety of methods. It supports further integration of Career Technical Education (CTE) for both students and adults; it works to align our educational offerings with the demands of a modern workforce; it looks to better coordinate efforts of existing programs; it prioritizes the creation of a workforce that is accessible to all Vermonters. 

The Vermont Department of Labor (VDOL) and the State Workforce Development Board (SWDB) spent time between sessions implementing much of what was called for with Act 189. In January they released their implementation report. You can read the entire document here.

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Commentary: State Board of Ed is Short-Sighted

This commentary originally appeared in the Brattleboro Reformer. You can click here to visit their page

Editor of the Reformer,

I have lived in Vermont since 1973. I have participated in the annual Vermont ritual of town meeting in two small rural towns in Windham County. I have always found our state government to be responsive and thoughtful and to always have the interests of its children uppermost. That is why I am stupefied at the actions of the Vermont Board of Education in regards to forcing school mergers via Act 46. 

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2018 Ethics Commission Annual Report Summary

On January 15th, the Vermont Ethics Commission published their 2018 Annual Report. If you’d like to read the whole document, you can do so at the link here. Otherwise, below is a breakdown of some notable content coming out of that report.

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Leadership Changes at CFV

Campaign for Vermont Announces Leadership Changes

McDonald and Lajeunesse elected Board, LaMontagne named Interim Executive Director

Montpelier, VT, March 23, 2018 - Campaign for Vermont, today announced the election of Pat McDonald, of Berlin, as President of the Board and Gabriel (Gabe) Lajeunesse, of Montpelier, as Vice President of the Board.  In addition, the board announced the appointment of Eric LaMontagne as interim executive director, replacing Benjamin Kinsley who stepped down to take a new position elsewhere in Vermont.

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February Legislative Update

It may sound cliche, but knowledge is indeed power. Here is an update on what your government is working on in the areas of workforce development, government transparency, and ethics.

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Gov Scott Thin on Specifics in Annual Budget Address

Governor Phil Scott presented his annual Budget Address for the second time on Tuesday, laying out his vision for spending $3.86 billion. His budget director referred to it as a “no-frills” event – we couldn’t agree more.  It was light on specifics particularly as it relates to cutting property taxes.

This year’s state budget increases spending by $82 million or 2.3% over last year. Three weeks ago, in his State of the State Address, Governor Scott promised no increases in taxes or fees, including property taxes. But in his Budget Address this week he failed to provide specifics on how he would avoid a property tax increase. Instead, he placed this responsibility on the Legislature.

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2018 Blog Series: Why Your Property Taxes are Going up

Last week was Governor Scott’s State of the State Address, which seemed to be well received be legislators and commentators on both sides of the isle. However, a few things jumped out at me, one of which was the Governor’s hold-the-line stance on statewide property taxes. Historically, this is difficult to promise. Despite having a statewide system, Vermont property taxes are quite complex in how they impact Vermonters’ actual tax bills.

We actually have three statewide tax rates: residential, income-sensitized, and non-residential. Both the residential and income-sensitized rates are applied to a local multiplier (which is determined by a district’s per pupil spending) while non-residential is a flat statewide rate. To make this even more tricky, the local multiplier that effects residential and income-sensitized rates is calculated using a statewide base that is set by the Legislature. Complicated, isn’t it?

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