With the statehouse awash in ambitious schemes to enlarge government, expand the tax base, deliver ever more services, increase dependency, and impose new mandates on businesses, one major avenue of real reform is chronically overlooked: repealing the ideas of yesteryear that didn't work, proved counterproductive, or were downright destructive.
Here's a selection of candidates for repeal from among Montpelier's long roster of mistakes.
This highly touted Challenge for Change scheme for closing the state's annoying general fund budget (Act 68 of 2010) has one success to its credit. It allowed Sen. Shumlin, Speaker Smith and Gov. Douglas to share a photo op announcing the coming solution of the FY2011 budget problem.
The budgeteers dutifully booked the declared "savings" and headed home to be reelected. Most of the projected $38 million in "savings" got lost somewhere along the way. This is especially true in education, where the Commissioner could only plead with school districts to stop spending money so he could meet his Challenge for Change targets.
Repeal this foolishness and launch a real performance review, as promised in the 2004 Democratic platform but promptly forgotten in 2005.
The 2006 legislature passed, and Gov. Douglas dutifully signed, a feel good law (Act 168) to put Vermont in the forefront of the titanic battle against the Menace of Global Warming. It mandates a state action plan to lower our greenhouse gas emissions to an astonishing 50 percent of 1990 levels by 2050. Achieving this goal will necessitate job-killing emissions quotas, mandates, taxes, cap and trade schemes and prosecutions.
Attorney General Jerry Brown of California, now Governor again, used an almost identical statute (AB 32) to threaten to stop new factories that would emit greenhouse gases. Vermont attorney general William Sorrell has pointedly refused to say that he won't do the same thing to stop growth in Vermont. Repeal this incipient monster before it drives businesses out of the state and kills many of the good jobs we have left.