What happened to Vermont's boom?

Remember Vermont in 2006 and early 2007? Real estate sales were booming, car sales were brisk, and the stock market looked, well, rosy. So what happened? According to Gov. Jim Douglas officeand for the first time since Douglas took officeVermonts tax revenues have been, well, anemic. A recent revenue report highlighted the fact that collections for both the states education and transportation funds are down. A significant part of the states revenue problem can probably be blamed on the stark reality of a sagging national economythe real estate bust and the high cost of oil is finally hitting Vermont. While the state is usually late (or even immune) when it comes to national trends, in this case the mortgage bust and oil import prices are negatively impact ing Vermonts economy. In addition to national trends, Vermonters havent seen much in their wallets lately either; salary increases during 2007 were hardly worth noting. Employers have been miserly and the result has been a belt-tightening effect that is just now being felt in Montplier. Vermonts Administration Secretary Mike Smith told news reporters last week that state departments and agencies that get so-called level funding will be the lucky ones in 2008 and 09. According to Smith, the slump in revenues comes at a bad time when already bloated state government programs are already scratching around for more funds. But in fairness to the administrations management skill, the governors office correctly predicted pending budget problems as far back as September. Despite the current pain, Smith noted that the slump in revenue growth is temprorary. While he believes 2008 and 09 will be a time for serious fiscal constraint, Smiths office told the Eagle that the secretary was forecasting a return to normal revenue growth in 2010.

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