Vermont Scores Last in State Economic Report

Rich States, Poor States

Darren Perron of WCAX News reports…

Which state has the worst economic rating in the country? According to the American Legislative Exchange Council– Vermont does. A new report puts the Green Mountain State dead last in a ranking of all 50 states.

According to the report, it’s because Vermont has some of the highest taxes in the country– personal income, business, estate and property taxes. In addition, the ALEC cites a high minimum wage and rising workers comp costs

But economist Art Woolf says the new study won’t impact new businesses or the expansion of existing businesses. He says it simply points out the obvious.

“I think it will bring attention to the fact that Vermont is a high-tax state,” says Woolf. “Any study that’s trying to rank states is going to have some kind of bias. You can’t put every factor in every kind of study. This study focuses on things that doesn’t make Vermont look too good. A lot of them are taxes. There are some liabilities in Vermont and this study points out what some of those are.”

Some have called the ALEC a right wing, pro-business group. Woolf says they are considered a conservative advocacy group and points out that a lot of liberal groups typically put Vermont first when it come to state rankings– like the most livable, or the best place to raise kids. But when it comes to taxes, the only place where Vermont scored well in this new study is the sales tax, which is relatively low.

I browsed through the ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index Report referenced in the story and I like how it gives clear numbers to easily compare how one would fair in different states.

I did a little comparison between the individual reports for Vermont and New Hampshire (which ranked 20 in the report) and it appears to me that someone in the upper low class and middle class range would obviously fair better in New Hampshire in terms of cost of living as they have no income tax, no sales tax, and no estate/inheritance tax. New Hampshire residents also have more education freedom and they have a lower corporate income tax which should help encourage more businesses to locate there, which would produce more jobs, therefore strengthening the economy and lessoning the individual tax burden.

In regards to groups that put Vermont first when it comes to state rankings on which is most livable, or the best place to raise kids, I think this really depends on the individual/family’s economic background when they start. If you are wealthy to begin with, the taxes in Vermont won’t be a big deal to you and yes, you will probably find Vermont be a great place to live and raise kids, but if you are starting from scratch and trying to become financially independent while raising a family it can be very difficult and the irony is that the working middle-class people here are forced to work so much and sacrifice so much that they often don’t get to enjoy all the things that make Vermont liveable, which they are forced to pay for because they are too busy working to pay for it. For these people, Vermont doesn’t look so liveable.

Also, it appears from other studies that I have read, that states like New Hampshire score similar to Vermont in terms of quality of life and in many cases better… in terms of healthcare, poverty, education. I really believe that lower taxes across the board and less restrictions on what people can do with their property so that people can be encouraged to engage in more trade, create more jobs, work less and enjoy more time with their family.

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