Beck: Uncommon Sense

Rep. Scott Beck

At a recent town meeting I attended a very loyal, capable, and loved town official retired. Many had complimentary words to describe her work and humanity. One comment struck me because it was profound, and I have never heard it used – this person doesn’t have common sense; they have Uncommon Sense.

Rep. Scott Beck

There are three issues before the legislature that on the surface appear to be common sense ideas pursuing worthy goals. But they have fundamental flaws that can be repaired if the legislature applies some Uncommon Sense.

Universal School Meals
Not all students suffer from food insecurity. For those that do, food insecurity isn’t a phenomenon experienced only while attending school; it also occurs on evenings, weekends, and school breaks.

Vermont shouldn’t spend precious dollars feeding students that don’t suffer from food insecurity while sending those that do home hungry. H.165 should be modified to increase the numbers of students eligible for school meals, but not everyone. Saved dollars should be used to build more robust out of school programs for students suffering from food insecurity. Not only would Vermont alleviate food insecurity, but these students would be more ready to learn in school.

Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance
This insurance is supported by many Vermonters and the Governor. H.66 is working its way through the House and proposes to have Vermont administer an insurance program by adding 47 employees in the Treasurer’s Office and 15 at the Tax Department, and purchasing the IT infrastructure to operate it. Virginia and Washington respectively spent $45M and $89M (before the pandemic) to build IT networks that will require additional spending over time. Alas, there is no IT savings for states with small populations.

Vermont could more quickly provide insurance benefits to all Vermonters if it partnered with the same private insurer that will soon be providing insurance benefits to state employees, and forego the employment costs and expensive uncertainty of developing its own IT system. If Vermont finds out it doesn’t like the services provided by insurance professionals from a company with 213 years of experience, we could always bring the program in house, hire state employees, and acquire an IT network. If we hire 62 employees and pay for an IT network, and then aren’t happy with the final product, it would be nearly impossible to shift to a private insurer.

Vermont was the second state to adopt a bottle deposit system in 1973; ten states currently have a bottle deposit system. H.158 seeks to update this program by increasing the number of types of bottles requiring a deposit. H.158 is a classic win-lose proposal. By pulling bottles out of recycling and making them deposit eligible Vermont will be starving our recyclers of valuable commodities that hold down the cost of recycling for Vermont residents and businesses.

Assuming a Vermont consumer returns every deposit bottle that they purchase, this program is revenue neutral to consumers. If Vermont increases the number of bottles eligible for deposit, it is still revenue neutral. What does change is the increased cost to recycle everything else. These increased costs would be disproportionately felt (regressive) by low and middle-income Vermonters.

Also, higher recycling costs don’t make people more likely to recycle. The authors of H.158 need to go back to the drawing board and contemplate why 40 states don’t have a bottle bill. There is room for a win-win if we admit the folly that passing a nickel around is the best way to make Vermont litter-free.

Rep. Scott Beck, R-St. Johnsbury, has served on the House Education and Ways & Means Committees.

Categories: Commentary

4 replies »

  1. I may have missed something in this equation but with the euphonism under the guise of “food insecurity” I fail to pick up on the call for, and recognition of the need for, accountability on the part of the parents.

    Note I say parents.

    Too often the burden has been placed solely on women to support the single parent family structure. This has a consequence of rippling into the homogenized terminology of the food insecurity equation at the end of the day.

    DO NOT miss read this as not having empathy for the children caught up in this downward spiral. This nation is fortunately well off enough to feed all.

    That is not the point.

    We could bridge the feeding of these children till such time as the parents have been made accountable for the responsibilities of parenthood. Funny how everyone knows their rights when it comes to reproduction but many miss they have a moral and legal responsibility.

    If we have to do it one lapsed parent at a time to bring care to the children for which they are responsible we could slow this need.

    Let’s not penalize the children further by their accident of birth into a family living on the edge. Keeping them sharp in school with the right tools may provide a platform to teach them there is a better way and break this cycle.

  2. The bottle deposit is a huge waste of everyone’s time and effort and should be scrapped. How many emissions are spent creating trash bags to store the cans and bottles? How about all the emissions driving to the bottle drop off site? How about it being regressive to those that live in apartments and can’t store all their stinky wet cans and bottles?

    So much for that “equity lens” we keep hearing about.

  3. Ironic that Beck pretends to care about children. He voted for H89, the Bill that protects all abortion providers even to the moment of Birth and anyone involved with the sexual, chemical, physical and psychological destruction of children.
    Nice try.

  4. If the increase in returnables happens, many redemption centers will end up closing, as they will not have enough room for the added volume and will not want to spend big bucks on a bigger facility. There is no good reason for this law.

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