Economy

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Shumlin reflects on single payer failure

MONTPELIER — Former Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said money, wary lawmakers and timing were the core challenges that ultimately caused his failure to deliver on a promise to implement a single-payer health care system in the state. The former Democratic governor reflected on that failure Tuesday at a forum at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Shumlin ran for governor in 2010 on a platform that promised voters a single-payer system. But he announced after his 2014 re-election bid that his administration would not be moving forward with the plan. He cited the tremendous cost of the program and the burden that would be placed on the state’s limited tax base. Continue Reading →

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Scott announces downtown tax credit recipients

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott said projects in Montpelier, Rutland and other Vermont communities are receiving $2.7 million in state tax credits to help fund redevelopment projects in downtown and village centers across the state. Scott said the tax credits approved by the state have generated more than $53 million in investment in 22 separate projects. In downtown Montpelier, a tax credit worth nearly $300,000 will help renovate the the two upper floors of the French Block, which have been vacant for more than 75 years. The two floors will contain 18 new apartments, including 14 affordable units, when the project is completed. The total project is expected to cost more than $5.4 million. Continue Reading →

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Scott administration recommends closing EB-5 center as feds send termination notice

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott released a report from his administration Monday evening recommending the shut down of the state-run EB-5 regional center alongside a notice from the federal government that it plans to terminate it. Scott ordered a review of the regional center, which oversees projects utilizing the federal foreign investor visa program, after a financial settlement in a massive fraud case was announced earlier this year. The owner of Jay Peak Resort, Ariel Quiros, and the resort president, William Stenger, were accused last year of a massive fraud scheme involving several EB-5 projects in the Northeast Kingdom by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the state. Quiros was accused of using more than $200 million in inventor funds for his own private use in what investigators labeled “a massive Ponzi scheme.”

On Monday, Scott released a notice from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services outlining its intent to close the state-run center, citing the fraud case and the state’s lack of oversight as key reasons for the pending closure. Scott’s office said Monday that he ordered the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation to review the center’s operations in July, after a court approved a settlement with financial firm Raymond James. Continue Reading →

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State revenues tumble in April

MONTPELIER — State revenues declined sharply in April, bringing the year-to-date revenues of the state’s General Fund below its target with two months remaining in the fiscal year. Secretary of Administration Susanne Young said Thursday that General Fund revenues collected in April totaled $201.1 million, which is $21.65 million below its monthly target. The monthly haul missed the target set in January by the state’s Emergency Board by 9.7 percent. The poor showing last month was driven by a steep decline in the personal income tax, which was $25.34 million less than expected. Corporate tax collected in April were ahead of projections by $3.94 million. Continue Reading →

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Lawmakers pitch carbon tax proposals

BARRE — A group of lawmakers plan to introduce legislation Tuesday that would tax carbon pollution and use the revenue to cut various taxes for Vermonters. Four bills were announced at news conferences Monday as part of a coordinated campaign to begin a conversation about a so-called carbon tax. Lawmakers say they plan to introduce four separate bills focused on reforming different taxes. At Capstone Community Action in Barre, Rep. Johannah Donovan, D-Burlington, said the legislation she will introduce will cut income taxes for Vermonters, small business and will double the Earned Income Tax Credit used by 43,000 low-income residents. “This bill cuts the tax rate for the bottom income bracket in half from 3.55 percent to 1.75 percent,” she said. Continue Reading →

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Vermont businesses may see decrease in costs, lawmakers say

MONTPELIER — Legislative leaders say Vermont businesses are expected to see a $28 million decrease in expenses this year from lower workers’ compensat ion and unemployment insurance costs. Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe, D-Chittenden, and House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, D-South Hero, said projections from the Vermont Department of Labor indicate businesses will see the significant decrease in their costs. The reprieve in unemployment insurance costs comes as the state recovers from the Great Recession when the number of unemployed Vermonters surged. “The really good news for business out there is that between 2016 and 2017, between workers’ comp and unemployment insurance, businesses within the state of Vermont will see a $28 million reduction in expenses, which is, I think, pretty exciting and good news for businesses,” Johnson said. The speaker said projections show a $ 1 2 . Continue Reading →

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Online sales costing Vermont millions in tax revenue

MONTPELIER — The state will take in another $8 million or so in annual sales tax revenue now that Amazon has agreed to collect and remit it, but the state will continue to miss out on about $13 million more from online purchases and mail orders, according to the Legislature’s Joint Fiscal Office. Vermont’s sale tax must be collected from retailers who have a presence, or what is known as nexus, in the state. The state has tried without success in recent years to collect the sales tax for online purchases from retailers who do not have a presence in Vermont. Amazon, the nation’s largest online retailer, began voluntarily collecting Vermont’s 6 percent sales tax this month. But plenty of other online retailers continue to sell goods to Vermonters without collecting the tax. Continue Reading →

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Amazon to collect state sales tax

Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 4:30 p.m. to include comments from the governor’s office. MONTPELIER — Online retail giant Amazon has agreed to begin collecting and remitting the state’s sales tax, providing a boost in revenue as the state faces another gap between revenues and spending in the 2018 fiscal year budget. News of Amazon’s decision to collect and remit Vermont’s 6 percent sales tax beginning Feb. 1 emerged on Friday. It is expected to provide a significant boost to state revenue. Continue Reading →

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Scott proposes changes to the executive branch

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott Scott is looking to consolidate some areas of state government in a bid to create operational efficiencies and some potential cost savings, but critics say it could weaken enforcement in a key area of government. Scott, who took office earlier this month, signed three executive orders Sunday and briefed reporters at the State House Tuesday on how they will reorganize the executive branch. One will combine the Department of Liquor and the Lottery Commission into the Department of Liquor and Lottery. Another will reconfigure the state’s Department of Information and Innovation into a new Agency of Digital Services. The third order combines the Department of Labor and the Agency of Commerce and Community Development into a single Agency of Economic Opportunity. Continue Reading →

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