by John LaBarge
I grew up in Burlington as a third generation Vermonter. I became aware of politics at an early stage in my life and I served in the legislature for ten years. During my tenure I was minority whip for four years and majority leader for two years before retiring my seat.
I can honestly say the super majority currently in Montpelier is by far the most arrogant group of elected officials I have ever seen. They have made it clear that they are not there to listen to Vermont residents, they are not there to help the lower and middle income Vermonter or seniors on fixed incomes. They are not there to try and make Vermont affordable for everyone. It’s clearly obvious they are there to pass their big government, cradle to grave agenda for the special interest groups that provide them with funding and political power and to hell with anyone else.
They passed a free school lunch program that provides free breakfast and lunch to all students, even though many parents can afford to pay for their children’s meals. They say free lunches for all won’t cost tax payers that much though.
They passed a family leave act that will require funding from now on but it will only tax employers and employees a small amount. It won’t cost much.
The passed 20 million dollars in new transportation fees even though the agency did not request fee increases and as of this March, the state revenue report shows the transportation fund is 23.1% higher than last year at this time so why do we need a fee increase? Don’t worry, it won’t cost Vermonters much.
Now they are ready to override Governor’s Scott’s veto of S.5 the Affordable (wink-wink) Heat Act that will cost Vermonters higher fuel cost, personal expenditures of large amounts to comply with the bill. It requires large programs to fund, more full-time state employees, more oversight committees and the expenses they are paid. They are so arrogant the Speaker of the House’s chief of staff just said in an interview with VT. Digger, “The House will override the veto, “full stop. There’s not a question in my mind.” Translated this means the super majority will all fall in line and vote lock step to override. The heck with their constituents it won’t cost them much and it’s for their own good.
The kicker is now the super majority is entertaining a major legislative pay increase which will include a stipend during the months they are not in session, along with benefits. Full time professional legislature here we come! Don’t worry, though, it won’t cost Vermonter taxpayers much. Besides, it will be worth it to have us here all year and well paid.
Vermont voters need to wake up and fast. We can’t afford these arrogant people who have taken over our state capital and call themselves “Representatives”. Who are they representing? The super majority listens to no one other than the special interest groups and their lobbyists. They negotiate with no one and ignore a Governor elected by nearly 70% of Vermonters, treating him like he is just an irritating rash.
The arrogant and “we know best” attitude that has now consumed our legislature is by far the worst in Vermont’s history and will sadly remain if Vermont voters continue to vote the way they have.
The author is a resident of Grand Isle. He was a Republican state representative from 1992 to 2002 and was the House Republican leader.
John, I’m a retired senior living on a fixed income and I think that the legislature is doing a great job for me and other lower- and middle-income residents. Take a look at all the hateful BS being passed in state legislatures that have a Republican super-majority if you want to see really nasty displays of arrogance.
Such AS? John gave a detailed account of just some of the ways in which these tyrannical lawmakers are very effectively destroying this once conservative-minded state. Conversely, your blanket statement oddly provided no such identifying examples, but I’m merely guessing that such supposed “arrogance” by Republican lawmakers might include such haughty displays as those who proclaim that males can NEVER become females, that the DOJ/FBI should be held accountable for violating the US Constitution in infiltrating Catholic churches looking for “pro-life terrorists”, or demanding to know exactly why Joe Biden & his family members received millions of dollars in wire transfers/checks from the Communist Chinese government.
For a start how about: attacking the free speech rights of corporations; refusing to allow a duly-elected transgender representative to speak; expelling two black representatives for a single breach of decorum; denying parents the right to make health care decisions for their own children; interfering with doctor-patient relationships through draconian restrictions on access to reproductive health care; expanding gun rights following daily mass killings that included children.
Mark may be one of thousands of Vermont retirees that came here with substantial wealth to retire. Compared to NY. NJ and other states, Vermont isn’t so bad. When one’s income is “middle class” or lower, subsidy and a very progressive tax rate help- property tax is shielded by subsidy, health insurance costs? shielded. Nonetheless, the amount of income that Vermont demands from it’s residents is staggering. Vermont’s top rate is 8.95%, coupled with unallowed federal deductions- the “upper middle class” has moved into the high taxation category. Fees, such as DMV, electric “efficiency” fees, surcharges and plain old hidden taxes all add to the burden placed on working and retired Vermont residents. It’s nice that Mark feels good about his legislature- but also telling that he finds actions by other more conservative state legislatures repugnant. He may even find that the current occupant of the White House is satisfactory to his needs-
for now. He may find that daytime shootings in Vermont’s Queen City pale by comparison to other similar sized cities- say Chicopee Mass or Pontiac MI- but most Vermont residents have not and will not put up with such lawlessness. Or that school children are exposed to persons afflicted with “gender dysphoria” whom are grooming them to become confused and conflicted about their own genders, at the ages of 5-10. Or that children have a “right” to medical treatment of STD’s, without parental notification.
Yes, Mark- this hubristic Vermont legislature is indeed doing a great job- of turning Vermont into a dystopian totalitarian society.
Nope – I’m living near the average median income for Vermont.
And Vermont’s income tax is highly progressive – low and middle income Vermonters do not pay at the top marginal tax rate of 8.95%.
Low-income homeowners pay property taxes at a very low fixed percentage of their income. Middle-income homeowners pay property taxes at a percentage of household income (depending on how much their districts spends).
In Vermont, fees cannot exceed the cost of providing the service provided by DMV or any other agency.
Exactly as I wrote. You are shielded from the worst effects of income and property taxes. You are not shielded from the sales tax, current fuel tax nor the energy efficiency charges on your electric bill. DMV fees and the cornucopia of other taxes and fees are all increasing. If you believe that fees cannot be more than service provided, have a look at your registration invoice, there’s added fees.
Your legislature is providing the political talking points and virtue signaling you desire, but has a large hand taking dollars from your wallet.
I and my wife are some of the poor people you are NOT talking about. Fees, taxes and so on in this state are so bad we cannot own a car anymore and without a mask can’t get rides. See, that is how they do it. They do not add stuff for the poor to pay they just make it nearly if not impossible to survive here. I may not pay the same in property taxes but the garbage I had to do to get that is well almost daunting and we see that not too many people do it for the total pile of paperwork involved alone.
Now lets talk about healthcare.
The state decided, and I still own all the paperwork, that we were “too poor” to have BC/BS insurance even when I was very able to pay for it.
Now on to heating.
They changed the standards of simple things like the size of the vent pipe on your fuel tank to help hamper people with fuel oil. That “pipe” problem turned into a $4000 problem we did not have before. But no heat unless you do something about it. We did get help, but were at the mercy of the fuel company to jerk us around as they apparently don’t like poor people.
All with the backing of the state.
Now on to cars in general.
I bet you have no problem getting one of those EV cars. For us, never gonna happen. Besides being a complete con, lets look at my present electric bill from GMP. With no electric car our last bill was $230. How am I gonna afford a heat pump you are demanding we get and a EV power bill that according to some numbers will at least double my power bill, MONTHLY.
Property taxes are NOT anything but that rate. Then discounts happen. Anything from a beehive to garages actually being a barn will effect value. BUT, there are many people who are poor who pay the full rate. Why? Because the state does not advertise the discounts and will do everything to tax to high heaven any and everything you have and want. VT is one of only a few states that tax retirement. They tax a single family home more than one 300ft farther from the road. I could go on all day as to how the “rich” in VT do not pay the taxes and fees poor /middleclass pay.
“They passed a free school lunch program that provides free breakfast and lunch to all students, even though many parents can afford to pay for their children’s meals”
(Am I the only one who see’s that they want to control what food your child eats)
That is why they are rich. To them VT is a quaint place to visit then when the weather turned bad they (mostly ) leave. When I had a job here in VT I made over $42000 a year and with expenses being low we still could barely survive. And Guess what at that level you don’t get help or discounts from the gubment, it is just a shut up and pay up mentality.
No sir you are wrong. When Dems/progressives get into power they segregate ,dominate and destroy what this country is founded on. They live for it. Remember DEMOCRATS to a man voted against the civil rights act. Democrats run ANTIFA and BLM all with the racism and bigotry of low expectations. Demrats run VT and see what a s**hole Vermont is turning into. Do you see how these “refugees” do not associate in our government they just sponge. And pleas as asked before what policy have Republicans are pushing for that is so bad.
Voter ID stops fraud. To say that “blacks” have a hard time w/ ID is a lie and is as racist as it gets. Learn to look past the Dems talking points and actually read (if you can ) both the National and state constitutions. They spell out how we are self reliant and only need government to REPRESENT US, not lead or dictate to us.
Anyone who voted for these tyrants is as guilty as they are.
Were they elected by voters or selected by the gaping holes that allow cheating and corruption to manipulate our Unconstitutional, ALL Mail Ballot System?
According to Wallet Hub the 2 worst States to retire in because of taxation are NY and NJ. Vermont is #3!
According to the 2022 report of the Joint Fiscal Office of the Vermont Legislature, Vermont is #2 nationally in Total State taxes (p.25)
Vermont is only one of 11 States that taxes social security income (in fairness SS income is taxed only IF total income RISES above a certain level)
The real world data do not support a perspective that Vermont is a tax friendly State when it comes to retirees.
Let me add one more juicy tidbit. I bought my house 30 years ago. I live in a 55 house development. When I bought the house no one told me the development had an expired stormwater runoff permit.
A few years ago the State decided to require that the expired permit be remediated with stormwater retention ponds.
Because of the geography of my development there is only one POTENTIAL site. If that site falls through, then each homeowner in the development has to pay a … wait for it… $6,300.00 “impact fee”… money that would be used elsewhere.
Remember there may be no place to put the retention ponds… but homeowners still pay a penalty fee!
What if a homeowner is a senior citizen living on fixed income with limited savings? Then they can: (1) move (2) set up a go-fund me site (3) set up a year-round lemonade stand, or (4) go on a hunger strike and hope the State takes pity on senior citizens who actuary tables declare have less than 2 decade to live.
Do you live in a bubble OR are you so sold out to go along with the Marxist/Socialists/Dems that you can’t comprehend reality?
This legislature has us more than $7 BILLION dollars in debt, and they’re still looking for MORE ways to spend money they (WE) don’t have- but don’t worry, it won’t cost much.
Wife and I are 75. been here since ’75. I am afraid I cannot agree with you and I am planning on leaving VT, forever, as soon as I can. I am not wealthy, but I am not worried about where my next meal is coming from. But it makes no sense to pay such high taxes and oil prices in an arctic climate, when there are too many alternatives. I would rather leave a few cents more to my children than the crazies in Montpelier. But that is just me, Mark, you are still free to do your thing.
Thanks for your service Mr. Labarge !
Thank you Mr. Labarge. Mark ^ above probably thinks Joe Biden is doing an equally bang up job as Vt.s democrat/progressive legislators. (I am senior citizen on a fixed income who ISN’T in favor of all the tax increases that are coming from Montpelier)
Excellent commentary & spot-on accuracy. I just wish to add a few more descriptives of my own concerning these interlopers: Communists, totalitarians, fascists, and intolerant, self-serving, malevolent frauds. They are each in violation of both the Vermont and the US Constitutions and need to be impeached. Sadly, much of the populace remains uninformed and largely ignorant of how these supposed “public servants” are playing them.
An “interloper” is someone who interferes with the affairs of others usually with selfish motives. Who are the interlopers here? The majority of Vermonters who vote? The duly elected representatives who face voters every two years and receive next to nothing in compensation for their service? Overheated rhetoric like this is the reason that the Democrats now have a super-majority and why a temperate person like our governor was elected in a landslide.
The interlopers are those who came here & continue to come here from other states with the sole intention of “correcting” and changing the character and the culture of what was ALWAYS Vermont. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And if YOU happen to think it’s broken? Stay where you were.
Vermont was, until the mid/later 20th Century a highly conservative state, and thereafter during much of the mid-20th century, a libertarian state. Its state motto was “FREEDOM and UNITY” – NOT “Totalitarianism and Diversity/Divisiveness.” As ANY free-speaking, uninhibited Sociologist will explain to you, it is NOT wrong or bad or “discriminatory” to gravitate towards people you share commonalities with, whether it be religion, ethnicity, or educational status. This is human nature and we do NOT need legislators coming here from Chicago, (mine) or California or NYC or NJ to alter what was ALWAYS a very safe & peaceable state.
YOUR government, now filled with two-thirds of out-of-staters passing radicalized and unconstitutional bills to forever alter VT’s landscape and intrinsic culture, is NOT wanted. Even beloved Pope Francis remarked that immigrants who do NOT wish to assimilate into another nation’s culture – have no business relocating there.
I don’t need your government to FORCE “diversity” upon me or demand me to congregate & live amongst specific demographics, as I ALONE decide that for myself. My innate and Constitutional Right.
I don’t need your government making arrangements to bring thousands of destitute, uneducated, unvetted people from all foreign countries into VT as long whilst there remain thousands of native Vermonters here who are barely making ends meet & yet have never relied on government for a hand-out.
I don’t need your government leftists to usurp MY parental rights and try to dictate to ME that my 7-year-old daughter should actually be my son or be handing my 12-year-old condoms in violation of OUR religion or introducing brothels into VT because “sex work empowers” women (NO IT DOES NOT, SIR), or attempt to close our prisons wherein dangerous felons are incarcerated & set them all back onto VT streets to perpetrate crimes yet again, etc.
I don’t need your government declaring conservatives’ “racists” & “sexists” at every turn when it was the phony democrats who REFUSED at election time a decade ago to elect our first BLACK governor, as well as what would have been our first WOMAN to the US Senate only last year!!! Lol! It’s the Dems who are the true racists and misogynists at their very core: The engineers of the KKK organization of yesteryear and the segregationists of the south after slavery was ended by a REPUBLICAN President – a FACTUAL history that public schools can never again repeat – as it hurts the phony-bologna image you imagine your party to represent. And Biden’s “MENTOR” in D.C.? Why the late Senator Bryd himself: as per Joseph Biden’s WORDS.
Finally, it is you and most of the other out-of-staters moving in here to bring what they all left THERE, HERE – and voting, predictably, accordingly, NOT the native populations nor the population of out-of-staters who left THERE, precisely to live HERE and not change anything. As far as the governor goes, he’s the LAST Republican (RINO though he is – which is how he was elected) you will EVER see here. Mr. Ponytail is biting at his heels to be coronated here by folks such as you. And crowned he shall be. Wanna wager a bet, Mark?
Nice try though. It’s just that genuine Vermonters and Conservatives and Republicans and Libertarians and Independents KNOW the TRUTH. In fact, there are now more registered Republicans nationwide than Democrats. Want socialism? Move, because Venezuela needs to repopulate……their former citizens all illegally immigrated here.
The “interlopers” most relevant to the discussion are those who specifically come to Vermont because the grapevine has told them that there is a generous cornucopia of programs for deadbeats, such as long-term stays in motels with the need qualification being based on the honor system. This is not only an insult to the Vermont taxpayers, many of whom cannot even afford the occasional recreational stay in a motel room for themselves, but also there has been a track record of trouble, including murder taking place on and off the premises of these establishments on the “emergency” motel program.
Am I the only one who knows that VT politicians voted to MAKE Dominion machines MANDATORY for any and all “elections”? No one has been “duly elected” in decades. And I know that from (very) personal experience.
No one asked ME about that.
Am I the only one who knows that VT is one of the (only) four states that REFUSE to check for voter fraud? No one has been “duly elected” in the state of VT for decades.
No one asked ME about that.
I moved to this state nigh onto 30 years ago to marry the love of my life. It has broken my heart to see VT roads have turned into a mess of potholes with just a little bit of road. BUT there’s always more money for the interlopers.
No one asked ME about that.
Am I the only one who knows the INTERLOPERS have been a runaway train with making sure they LEGALIZED cutting children to pieces to make them what they are NOT? And parents cannot be told!!!
No one asked ME about that.
Am I the only one who understands that MASKS don’t just NOT HELP your health, but do cause bronchial pneumonia, deny the wearer 20% of their oxygen–Oh, do I really have to go into the litany? Scaring people hasn’t been enough, now they are planning an EMERGENCY meeting to MANDATE masks yet again?????
They are simply INFORMING THE PEOPLE of their decision.
No one is ASKING ME about their demand to suffocate Vermonters
Am I the only who understands that ILLEGAL ALIENS were transported in the dead of night at the tax payers’ expense…along with food, clothing, shelter and health care Vermonters CANNOT GET?
No one asked ME about that.
Am I the only one who is aware of the incredibly high crime rate never before seen in Vermont? That the USURPERS have made special rules for the ILLEGAL ALIENS so they can do what they want?
No one asked ME about that.
Am I the only one who knows that, contrary to federal laws, ILLEGAL ALIENS have been given the right to drive, ergo VOTE???
No one asked ME about that.
There’s a LOT MORE I could bring up. Uncomfortable facts that I am sure many people would attack me for. But I won’t. I’ll just leave this food for thought presented to you with my nom de plume.
Mark – You’re up. I answered you long ago. Have you possibly learned that Vermont Conservatives don’t back down?
Ahem, cough, cough, Vermont Republicans voted for this mess. Pat yourselves on the back. Great strategy.
Well, well, well, let’s give a round of applause to our beloved legislators for pulling a fast one! It’s almost as if they’re magicians, making the burden of responsibility for the Affordable Heat Act vanish into thin air. Because, clearly, the fossil fuel dealers and importers are just sitting on piles of money, eagerly waiting to foot the bill and clean up their act. But hold on, who’s actually paying for those services? Oh, right – the Vermonters themselves, in the form of higher fuel costs. How very convenient. So, in the magical world of politics, it’s a win-win for everyone… except for the people who ultimately end up paying the price. Bravo, legislators, bravo!
How about not taxing military retirement!
Totally agree. However, the attitude in Montpelier is not we’ve lost this revenue, where can we make cuts but how can we make up for this lost revenue.
OR Social Security??? Here’s a state with an aging population & they won’t give those poor hard-working long-term Americans a break but INSTEAD take from them to give to the druggies & social program lifers who fast-tracking Vermont’s decline. Thanks for your continued brilliance, Communists!
Well said John, would you like to go back? We feel like we are being driven out of this state, the state we love. We cannot afford to retire here.
I disagree, but some conservatives think that Social Security is socialism. From the Future of Freedom Foundation: “Social Security has always been nothing more than a standard socialist program, one that uses government force to take money from people to whom it belongs (i.e., younger people) and gives it to people to whom it does not belong (i.e., older people). But you support the program?
Social security has rules about eligibility and is an ENTITLEMENT program available to those who have paid into the system for a minimum amount of time. The “socialist” programs being discussed here are NOT ENTITLEMENTS. The more free stuff available, the less that people are incentivized to contribute to society. When welfare is local, and you see the people who are taking care of you at the store, at church and at town meeting you are more likely to be nice to them., and you may actually convey a sense of gratitude. When your free stuff comes from a faceless bureaucracy and the funds just show up every month on a plastic card, you have no sense of gratitude and you have no incentive to be nice to people. There I said it…excessive welfare programs make people NOT NICE.
Duh, I have been paying into Soc Sec since my first job at 16. How is that socialism. The government got money worth many times the inflated value it is now returning to me. If anything, it was a mandatory savings account, that if not for it, many would have no income at all.
Social Security was paid for by….let me try to recall…..ah, yes, ME! We paid for six decades into the Social Security program, how ’bout YOU by the way? And therefore, we are deserving, as this program was designed, of utilizing what we PERSONALLY funded – it isn’t going to those who refuse to work YET. But it shall inevitably be because ALL “Americans” here whether they refuse to work or not – or are here ILLEGALLY or not (yes, Mark, there has always been a process mandated by FEDERAL LAW that regulated how immigrants were allowed or disallowed entry into the USA) and I’m sure you agree with it all at promote it all: “FREE” “FREE” FREE” as our favorite socialist states…….
Democrat “Socialists”: There is NO SUCH THING, just a group of word-altering Communists attempting to make the destruction of the USA & the implementation of socialism more palatable. The CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC FOREVER!
I just feel bad for the suckers who think the govt is better at handling their retirement money, then complain when they live on the pithy the State lets them have…….let them eat cake.
who in their right mind thinks they can live on a fixed income nowadays anyway? those days are gone. Better off taking your SS money and putting it in the market, better return on investment and no govt strings attached.
“Free Speech” rights of corporations??? LOL!! Those are the corporations who worked in COLLUSION with the White House, the DNC, and the FBI to SILENCE the ACTUAL free speech rights of Americans by deleting their Twitter & Facebook accounts as well as CENSORING news media & citizens from discussing certain topics that did not suit your political propaganda points!!!
Topics deleted and also omitted on media platforms include, but were not limited to:
1.) Covid19 mask effectiveness
2.) Covid19 vaccine health risks & efficacy
3.) Hunter Biden’s laptop from the bowels of hell!
4.) Checks and/or bank transfers totaling millions from Communist China & Ukraine and deposited into VARIOUS Biden Family member bank accounts.
5.) The deletion of the PRESIDENT of the UNITED STATE’S Twitter Account.
6.) Withholding the hundreds of hours of the January 6 incident now only partly made public resulting in the near immediate RELEASE of a jailed citizen.
Black Delegates being ousted for a “decorum breach”? I believe, according to the videotapes I viewed – you leftists ought refer to the scene in question which was both riotous and full of mayhem as: an “INSURRECTION.”
“Draconian” restrictions on children’s “health care”?? Those CHILDREN are MY responsibility – NOT yours, son. And don’t even ATTEMPT to usurp my parental rights & OUR freedom of religion in your & your leftist comrades twisted and Constitutionally corrupt ideologies that YOU can decide whether or not MY underage child is sexually active or not, have an abortion (which is MURDER of the unborn as 90% of ALL scientists agree that life begins at conception) or whether or not YOU & yours decide my child is a male or a female, as known in BIOLOGY for THOUSANDS of years: Males have a penis & testicles and females have a vagina & uterus! End of STORY, son, as gender DNA can NOT be altered.
Lastly, gun RIGHTS are a CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT and there is NOTHING you can EVER do to attempt to continue to feebly attempt remove that right or erode it – the UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT has made that CLEAR & CONCISE – now move along.
GUNS do NOT kill people any more than knives or viral toxins (such as the CHINESE Covid19 virus unleashed upon the USA by Communists) or automobiles kill people. Those supposedly in control of aforementioned guns/knives/biological toxins/cars CAN when mentally ill (who ought to be in mental health facilities) or those driving DUI or those who are violent or criminally inclined (who ought to be in PRISON) illegally or improperly use them as weapons.
Again, nice but very lame attempt to spin REALITY, kiddo. Sadly for you, spinning just isn’t well-tolerated on this site – try CNN or VT Digger – oh wait……leftist sites don’t ALLOW free speech in the form of commentary! Too bad for you.
Comrade – You wish for socialism and a society devoid of personal freedoms as ascribed by a constitution or a culture wherein the government decides your or your children’s medical fates & treatments? You have a number of fascist, totalitarian regimes worldwide to choose from – but be cautious, as China, among most others -murders dissidents, homosexuals, and men who imagine themselves to be women.
Let us be aware if you require assist with your travel & relocation expenses.
The US Constitution STANDS FOREVER.
Thank you, you are terrific, I am going to hang your stuff on my wall.
As well you should, Skip!!! And remember: Just say no to drugs!!!!
Does anyone know how much the state is in the hole for the state pensioners for wages and health insurance?? Would like to know 😢
You dont hear about it much from the democrat-friendly media but last i heard it was
about $6 billion in unfunded pension liability. About 630,000 total Vermonters and maybe 70% of us actually contributing significant tax revenue so do the math as far as what we each owe to a system that was and is perpetuated on us by a couple of powerful public sector unions who own the demoprogs in Montpelier. We vote to continue this unsustainable insanity every 2 years.
Sounds like bankruptcy.
I agree completely instead of listening to the majority of the votes they pander to the mentally ill because their the ones that bitch and are offended by everything.
Mr. LaBarge, arrogance is a term that I began considering more often over the past few years as I observed politics on all levels, and your connecting it to the current VT legislature is completely accurate. Your experience in VT politics, including leadership roles, confirms the validity of your statement. I am also a lifelong Vermont resident and have become markedly disturbed by these specious politicians. Please continue to share your experience and insights.
I saw recently that David Zuckerman joined the Facebook group “Vermont Air National Guard Friends”. and visited the Air Guard in January. I find that ironic given his strong opposition to the F35’s. If you think it is bad in Vermont now, wait till Gov Scott leaves office. While some might not like Governor Scott and think he is a RINO, I think he is a great governor. I recently ask 4 close friends in Vermont, who I think are pretty wise, what they thought of S5. They all indicated they had not heard of it. Wake up Vermont.