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Exit fees

It is my intent to be helpful, and to that end, I humbly offer this legislative suggestion: the Vermont Exit Fee. Attention, citizens/taxpayers: if and when you want out, you'll have to buy your way out.

This pay-to-flee idea isn't my invention, I must equally humbly explain: it has deep roots in Vermont governance: the SU school system.

Those readers of this column who were in Vermont in the '60s and even into the '70s, and were old enough to be alert to such matters, when the first major rash of new-school-construction came out of the older supervisory union structure whereby a single superintendent's office administered a number of town elementary schools and, typically, a single high school, sometimes with vocational center attached, will recall the notable lack of enthusiasm of some town school directors (as they were then called, preceding the more recent "board member" appellation) for both the building programs and the superintendencies which were pushing them, and how they discovered, as did the south in 1861, that secession was theoretically possible but practically quite difficult.

That was because, as explained by superintendents of that era ranging from Brandon's Lloyd A. "Pete" Kelley to Lyndonville's Urban Wakefield, the would-be walkers would have to pay their share of the SU's debt before departing. By that time, of course, most districts had already bonded for a bond issue or two, although nothing in the magnitude that would come in later decades, but even so, buying an exit ticket was, for all practical purposes, as impossible as paying off your mortgage with a single check.

The same reasoning could now be applied to those rascally high-net-worth folks and businesses who might want to, as the ALEC report describes it, flee to a more tax-friendly state: the Golden Dome folks could keep them captive (and paying) in Vermont by presenting them with an exit-fee demand equal to their calculated share of the state's present governmental indebtedness and liabilities.

As the French peasantry were (and still are) rumored to have done with their force fed pate-de-foie-gras geese, that sure would nail their feet to the floor.

Former Vermonter Martin Harris lives in Tennessee.

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