$10,000 Is Not Nearly Enough to Compensate for Living in Vermont

 

(I’m posting this from the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy’s weekly email newsletter, which you can get for free each Friday by signing up here: https://www.jbartlett.org/about-us/email-sign-up)

Moonlighting in Vermont

For a century, Vermont and New Hampshire were politically very similar. Vermont was even more solidly Republican than New Hampshire. The Granite State elected four Democratic governors from the 1850s through the 1950s. Vermont elected zero. Then diverging demographic, philosophical and political forces shifted each state’s politics.

(By the way, Philip Hoff, the first Democratic governor of Vermont since the 1850s, died in April.)

New Hampshire by the 1950s was developing a stridently anti-tax ethos that has since hardened into part of the state’s culture. Vermont, by contrast, experienced the real-life equivalent of a zombie apocalypse. It was taken over by hippies.

(Iconic examples: New Yorker Bernie Sanders moved to Vermont in 1968 to live with a hippie commune. A decade later, Ben & Jerry followed.)

How’d that work out for Vermont? State leaders are so desperate to recruit fresh brains…err, talent that they’ve resorted to paying people to move there.

Last week, Gov. Phil Scott signed a bill to offer $10,000 to anyone who will move to the People’s Republic and work remotely. The Green Mountain State has become the greenback state.

(As an aside, $10,000 is not nearly enough to justify moving to Vermont. It won’t even buy you a well-kept 1970s VW camper van there, for goodness sake.)

States have tried many methods to lure new residents. When Granite Staters fled farms for mill towns and cities at the end of the 19th century, the state paid for advertisements in Europe to entice people to settle the depopulated rural areas. (That made some sense, given the dramatic drop in the cost of relocating during the 19th century.)

In an age of unprecedented ease of mobility, Vermont’s offer of such a large direct cash payment for relocation reeks of desperation, incense and bad economics.

Vermont officials say they need to take bold action to attract a bigger workforce. As Gov. Scott said when announcing a different initiative to convince tourists to relocate, the state has lost about 16,000 workers since 2009.

This program is intended to pay for 100 relocations in three years. That would have a very small impact on the state’s economy. Even if it works (about 800 people have inquired already), there’s a huge and obvious flaw in the plan. If the state wants more workers to fill its job vacancies, recruiting people who are going to keep working for out-of-state businessesis not exactly the most brilliant strategy.

Vermont has a lot of structural problems that make it economically less attractive than many other states. The Tax Foundation’s business tax climate index puts New Hampshire in the top 10, Vermont the bottom five. Vermont collects $1,133 per person in individual state and local income taxes, per the Tax Foundation. New Hampshire’s total? $72.

There are lots of ways to make a place more attractive for relocation and business investment. Reducing regulations that drive up home prices or make it harder to start a business or get a job are proven methods. Some infrastructure investments also work.

Paying people to relocate — while they continue working for out-of-state employers — is an admission that the state has no interest in making the structural changes that could turn it into a more attractive location for long-term investment.

There are 11 comments.

  1. Richard Easton Member

    My parents know a man who worked at the VA in White River Junction (Vt). He lived in NH and his wife worked in NH. Vermont has an income tax. NH has no income tax. Vermont was including his wife’s income in the tax it claimed he owed. He appealed to the Vt Supreme Court and lost. They’ve lost their minds in Vermont. 

    • #1
    • June 8, 2018, at 3:37 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  2. EODmom Coolidge

    From the vantage of seacoast NH: I see it as a state of perennial wishful thinking. Deluded by the lovely surroundings into hoping it will all work out. And just not accepting the facts at face value: that Vermont no longer offers enough for people to stay in the face of limited economic benefit and excessive taxation. NH is suffering from some of the same symptoms though. Our small town has a school budget of around $25,000/yr/student. For 225-35 students K-8. And after6 years of trying to get the bond warrant passed, the school board finally succeeded and there will be an addition costing more than $5mio financed over 20 years. The school needed repairs and updating, but new residents wanted better. Nothing is as much fun as spending other people’s money. So, NH is increasingly prone to its own variant of wishful,thinking. In this case it’s that property values will stay high and people will have money to buy big houses. Sigh. 

    • #2
    • June 8, 2018, at 3:56 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  3. Hoyacon Member

    Last week, Gov. Phil Scott signed a bill to offer $10,000 to anyone who will move to the People’s Republic and work remotely.

    Can you ever leave? Would, by any chance, being a Ricochet contributor (not my present status) constitute “work”?

    • #3
    • June 8, 2018, at 4:41 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  4. The Reticulator Member

    DrewCline: Vermont officials say they need to take bold action to attract a bigger workforce.

    Renouncing Bernie Sanders and deporting him would count as a bold action.

    • #4
    • June 8, 2018, at 6:07 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  5. Dr. Bastiat Member

    Absolutely remarkable.

    • #5
    • June 8, 2018, at 6:15 PM PDT
    • Like
  6. MarciN Member

    Richard Easton (View Comment):

    My parents know a man who worked at the VA in White River Junction (Vt). He lived in NH and his wife worked in NH. Vermont has an income tax. NH has no income tax. Vermont was including his wife’s income in the tax it claimed he owed. He appealed to the Vt Supreme Court and lost. They’ve lost their minds in Vermont.

    That is truly outrageous. I wish they would take this to the U.S. Supreme Court. Vermont has no right whatsoever to claim one cent of his wife’s income. She neither works nor lives in Vermont.

    • #6
    • June 8, 2018, at 8:07 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  7. MarciN Member

    Vermont also has one of the lowest state GDPs in the country. It’s near the bottom. In 2015, it was at the bottom.

    One of my daughters went to the University of Vermont, and my other daughter lives in Burlington now with her husband and son (my adorable grandson). It is a beautiful state, home to great wealth and natural resources. The only reason that it is having any financial problems is mismanagement. It’s such a shame. It should be one of the wealthiest states.

    • #7
    • June 8, 2018, at 8:10 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  8. ToryWarWriter Thatcher

    I hear that if you want to make real change get 20000 republicans to move to Vermont. You could overthrow the Socialists and establish a Republican government and flip both Senate Seats. Sounds a heck of a lot cheaper than what the Republicans currently pay to flip a Senate seat.

    • #8
    • June 11, 2018, at 5:11 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  9. JudithannCampbell Inactive

    ToryWarWriter (View Comment):

    I hear that if you want to make real change get 20000 republicans to move to Vermont. You could overthrow the Socialists and establish a Republican government and flip both Senate Seats. Sounds a heck of a lot cheaper than what the Republicans currently pay to flip a Senate seat.

    Thank you, I have thought of this: some are always saying that republicans in blue states should move to red states like Texas, but Texas has republicans to spare: If some of them moved to purple or blue states, we could easily take back the country.

    Joking, kind of :)

    • #9
    • June 11, 2018, at 5:21 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  10. Seawriter Member

    JudithannCampbell (View Comment):
    Thank you, I have thought of this: some are always saying that republicans in blue states should move to red states like Texas, but Texas has republicans to spare: If some of them moved to purple or blue states, we could easily take back the country.

    No. Just NO.

    The good news: You get $10,000 for relocating to Vermont.

    The bad news: It’s Vermont.

    • #10
    • June 11, 2018, at 5:56 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  11. Larry3435 Member

    The choice was right there on the license plates: “Live free or die.” Vermont chose die.

    Tangentially, I wonder how much California would have to offer to get real people with jobs to move there. Something in the seven figures, I would imagine. But CA does manage to attract plenty of illegal aliens.

    • #11
    • June 12, 2018, at 4:59 AM PDT
    • Like