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Politically thinking: GOP seeks alternative to Romney

Posted on June 23, 2011 |
By Eric L. Davis



Last week’s Republican presidential candidates’ debate in New Hampshire was the kick-off to a campaign that will end in August 2012 in Tampa, when the GOP nominates its candidate to oppose President Obama’s bid for re-election. Although the Republican contest is still in its very early days, some key themes of the campaign are emerging.

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Politically Thinking: Unification not high on Shumlin list

Posted on May 26, 2011 |
By Eric L. Davis



On Town Meeting Day, the voters of the Addison Northwest Supervisory Union approved the creation of a unified union district. Last week, the unified union was overturned on a reconsideration vote in Vergennes. After Vergennes voters rejected the proposal, ANwSU Superintendent Tom O’Brien said that school consolidation would “be put to rest for a period of time in our district … it will hibernate for a while, if you will.”

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Politically Thinking: State faces a daunting fiscal future

Posted on May 12, 2011 |
By Eric L. Davis



Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston recently published data on state and local public finances in the six New England states. Vermont’s combined state and local government spending was $8,500 per capita in fiscal 2007, the most recent year for which comparable data is available for all the New England states. This was the highest per capita expenditure in the region. In the same year, Vermont’s median household income was the second lowest in New England, above only Maine, and 20 to 25 percent below that in New Hampshire, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

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Politically Thinking: Air fare subsidies a worthwhile cut

Posted on April 14, 2011 |
By Eric L. Davis



Returning the federal budget to sustainability over the next decade will require a combination of cuts in discretionary spending programs, reforms in entitlement programs and increases in tax revenues. Many elected officials and interest group leaders believe that solidifying the nation’s finances can be accomplished with changes in only one or two of these areas. Democrats want to cut military spending and raise taxes on the wealthy, while Republicans want to cut domestic programs and reduce Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

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Politically Thinking: GOP court likely to favor big spenders

Posted on March 17, 2011 |
By Eric L. Davis



In two weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument in a case raising important First Amendment issues about public financing of political campaigns.

The case comes from Arizona. In the 1990s, many Arizona legislators faced civil and criminal charges involving campaign contributions from the gambling industry. In 1998, Arizona’s voters passed a referendum establishing a “Clean Elections” program that provides public funding to candidates for state offices who voluntarily limit the amount of money they raise in private donations.

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Politically Thinking: Governor should appoint commissioner

Next week, the House Education Committee will hold a hearing on a bill to designate the governor, rather than the state board of education, as the appointing authority for Vermont’s education commissioner.

The board of education consists of 10 members, appointed by the governor for six-year terms. During a governor’s elected term of two years, he or she can appoint only three or four members of the state board. The governor would need two terms, or four years, to appoint a majority of the members of the board of education.

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Politically Thinking: Salmon facing tough 2012 decision

Sen. Bernie Sanders has already started organizing and raising money for his re-election campaign in 2012. Meanwhile, State Auditor Tom Salmon has told reporters and Republican activists that he is likely to announce in early March that he will be a candidate for the U.S. Senate next year. Sanders will file petitions to appear on the ballot as an independent, but he could also win the Democratic primary on write-in votes.

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Politically Thinking: State economy shifting with times

Posted on January 20, 2011 |
By Eric L. Davis



Last week, the Legislature’s consulting economist, Tom Kavet, presented his semi-annual revenue forecast and analysis of the Vermont economy to Gov. Shumlin and legislative leaders. Kavet’s reports are important events in Montpelier, because they identify issues that are likely to be on the Legislature’s agenda in the next session.

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Politically Thinking: Left may challenge Shumlin budget

Posted on January 6, 2011 |
By Eric L. Davis



Gov. Shumlin will submit his proposed budget for fiscal year 2012 to the Legislature at the end of January. Opposition to Shumlin’s budget may be more intense among progressives than among Republicans.

The Republicans are too weak to be a major force in Montpelier. They hold fewer than one-third of the seats in the House and the Senate. The senior Republican, Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, has made it clear that he does not see his role as leading the opposition to Shumlin.

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Politically Thinking: Income tax emerges as a key issue

Posted on December 23, 2010 |
By Eric L. Davis



Fundamental reform of the income tax system may be high on the agendas of both President Obama and Gov.-elect Shumlin in 2011.

Congress has passed the compromise between President Obama and Senate Republicans that will extend Bush-era tax cuts for another two years for all taxpayers. The two-year extension will put tax issues at the center of the 2012 presidential campaign.

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