December 13, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Urge governor to endorse carbon pricing

As a family physician, I am concerned about a warming climate. Lyme disease-carrying ticks now ride home on my dog after every walk. Cockroaches and malaria-carrying mosquitoes love warmer temperatures. Texas and Florida already have Zika virus. As warmer temperatures march northward, so do these threats.

Are you more concerned about jobs than health? Then consider what another hot September and drab fall foliage season means for Vermont tourism. Or what wet, slushy, melting snow means for our ski areas.

Currently, Vermonters send $1.6 billion out of state each year for fossil fuels. I know local solar installers, your neighbors and friends, who could use the work, and they will save you money in the bargain.

Did you lose power from our recent wind storm? Does it really make sense to build more long distance power lines when we could have locally generated solar with commercial battery backup right here in our own communities? Most of Puerto Rico is still without power six weeks after Hurricane Maria, but Hospital del Nino, a children’s hospital in San Juan, has power thanks to Tesla solar panels and commercial batteries.

We lack the needed leadership in Washington. If this was the end of the Stone Age, they would still be collecting rocks. Gov. Phil Scott has the opportunity to endorse, rather than block, the many recommendations of embracing carbon pricing heard by his Climate Action Commission this fall. But he’s not going to do it unless he hears from you.

Join me in contacting Gov. Scott and encourage him to support a price on carbon. Tell him it’s just what the doctor ordered.

Terence Naumann

Richmond

Strong reasons to oppose pot legalization

Former Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas was the keynote speaker at the annual Orange County GOP spaghetti dinner last week in Randolph. During the Q&A session, I asked him about his position on the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in Vermont.

Without hesitation, Gov. Douglas said he opposes such legalization and sees no reason for it. He noted that there have been increased highway deaths in Colorado and Washington since legalization began there. He also said for some people, marijuana is a gateway drug.

Gov. Douglas voiced an understanding about the desire by some for tax revenue, but rejected it, saying that “the desire for this revenue should not replace our values and what is the right thing to do, and this is not the right thing to do for Vermont.”

He cited the example of Gov. Dean rejecting a casino in southern Vermont because it was “not consistent with Vermont values.”

I agree, and so do many Vermonters, for many reasons, the number of which only seems to grow as we learn more about the law enforcement, addiction and homelessness problems in legal jurisdictions.

I hope Gov. Douglas’ position will help others realize that legalization for recreational use is not inevitable, and there are leaders out there who are not afraid to take a principled position against this dangerous and addicting drug.

The marijuana that is being marketed elsewhere, and will be here if the pro-pot industry gets its way, is not the 1 percent to 3 percent marijuana of the 1970s. Today’s marijuana is now up to 15 percent THC concentration, with much higher concentrations available.

It is being marketed in the form of soda pop, brownies, gummy bears and lollipops. Just imagine when a young child sees this “yummy” brownie laying around. Read about such situations and other tragic outcomes of today’s marijuana on websites such as momsstrong.org.

Robert L Orleck

Randolph

Tax plan benefits would grow for top-earning Vermonters

A 50-state analysis released last week by the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policyof the U.S. House of Representatives’ tax plan reveals that the wealthiest 1 percent of Vermonters would receive the greatest share of the total proposed tax cut in year one, and their share would grow through 2027.

House leadership continues to tout this tax proposal, which will increase the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, as a plan to boost the middle class. But a closer examination of the bill’s provisions reveals that it is laser-focused on tax cuts for the nation’s highest earning households.

The wealthiest Vermonters’ share of the tax cuts would grow over time due to phase-ins of tax cuts that mostly benefit upper-income taxpayers and the eventual elimination or erosion in value of provisions that benefit low- and middle-income filers. For example, after five years, the bill eliminates a $300 non-child dependent credit that benefits low- and middle-income families while fully repealing the estate tax in year six for the very large estates subject to the tax.

More specifically, the share of the tax cut enjoyed by the top 1 percent of Vermont households would increase from 20 percent in 2018 to 29 percent by 2027 with an average cut of $45,990 at the end of the 10 years.

Following are some highlights of how the plan affects Vermont:

The average tax cut for the top 1 percent would be $28,840 in 2018, versus $140 for the poorest 20 percent.

The top 1 percent would see an average tax cut of 2.7 percent of their income in 2027, while the share for the poorest 20 percent is only .6 percent of their income.

The cut for the middle 20 percent would be 1.2 percent of their income in 2027.

To read the entire ITEP report or get more details about the implications for Vermont go to itep.org/housetaxplan.

Stephanie Yu

Public Assets Institute

Montpelier

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