Roper: Vermont’s legislature is blowing big bucks on failed experiments.

Census data shows blue states losing people and income to red states.

by Rob Roper

The IRS recently released their latest data showing where people filed their tax returns from one year to the next. Apart from interesting information about revenue, it also paints a clear picture about interstate migration. Several publications, including the Wall Street Journal, analyzed the spread sheets and came to the same conclusions: high tax, heavily regulated blue states are losing people and tax revenue to low-tax, free-enterprise oriented red states.

Inspiring the biggest exodus was California, which lost 332,000 residents who took $29.1 billion in income with them when they left. New York lost 262,000 people and $24.5 billion. Illinois 105,000/$10.9 billion, and Massachusetts 44,000/$4.28 billion. The only “red” state to make the top five worst performers was Louisiana, which has a Democratic governor and a Republican legislature.

Where are all these blue state refugees fleeing to? For the most part to Florida, Texas, the Carolinas, and Tennessee. Florida alone gained 255,834 people who brought over $39 billion worth of income to the Sunshine State. Texas welcomed 174,000 new residents and their nearly $11 billion. Overwhelmingly it is the wealthier individuals, those with above average incomes, abandoning the blue states leaving lower income folks behind to shoulder those increasingly heavy tax burdens. It’s a fiscal death spiral.

Now, which of these two batches of states does Vermont most resemble? Group A, with their sky-high marginal income tax rates, infatuation with throwing money at unprofitable green energy schemes, over-promised public pension benefits with underfunded trusts, and woke policies on everything from crime to education? Or Group B, with their no-to-low-income taxes, prudent fiscal and business friendly philosophies, and common-sense regulatory environments that actually allow for things like affordable housing to happen? And by “affordable housing” I mean housing people can afford to buy or rent on their own without taxpayer subsides.

If states are indeed the laboratories of democracy, let’s apply the scientific method to what we are witnessing here. For those who think “following the science” is simply believing whatever Dr. Sanjay Gupta says on CNN, the scientific method is a process of presenting a hypothesis, subjecting it to repeated experimentation, and observing the results of those experiments to determine whether or not the original hypothesis was correct.  

The hypothesis being tested by the red states is that if you create an environment in which people are more free to make their own decisions, exercise their own judgement, and are allowed to keep more of what they earn, they will come, stay, and thrive. Through the results of the several red state experiments listed above, this hypothesis would appear to be proven correct.

The hypothesis being tested by the blue states is that if government confiscates more of people’s income, and “invests” it in programs designed to redistribute wealth and expand access to government services while using its regulatory powers to channel citizens’ behavior into activities it deems most desirable and away from those it does not approve of, then people will come, stay, and thrive. Through the results of the several blue state experiments listed above, this hypothesis would appear to be a flaming bag of dog poo. Or, in the cases of California and New York in particular, piles of human excrement littering the sidewalks.

Yet this blue state blueprint is what Vermont lawmakers have doubled and tripled down on with a zeal that can only make Gavin Newsom’s head spin with bewildered admiration. We still hear the arguments that if we just provide free daycare to all children (paid for with a new payroll tax) young families will move here. And if we just provide a government funded and directed paid family leave benefit (yet another payroll tax) more workers will move here. If that’s not enough, state-run, taxpayer-funded healthcare will bring them in in droves! Nope. This is not what’s happening here or anywhere else. Quite the opposite.

We have a labor shortage in Vermont. Workers like high wages, so how about a government mandated “livable wage” to fix the problem? News flash: the workers are moving to states with the lowest allowable minimum wage, $7.25 (North & South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Florida’s is $11.00), and away from states with the highest minimum wages (California at $15.50, Massachusetts and New York at $15, and Illinois at $13). Turns out greater opportunity to work and advance, and the chance to keep more of what you earn while spending less of it on what you need is a more attractive incentive for productive people.

But we must prepare for the rush of climate change refugees who will flood into Vermont to escape the ravages of global warming. Sorry again, folks. Look at what direction these migratory patterns are taking: away from the blue Canadian border and toward the red equator. So, if global warming is as dire as you say it is, dear elected lawmakers, people are voting with their feet that they think living under your policies is a worse fate than inevitable spontaneous combustion. Think about that.

Vermont has been able to get away with a history of disastrous policies because for a long time the federal government has bequeathed us far more than our share of loot from the national treasury. Like a wealthy and overindulgent uncle continuously bailing out a somewhat dimwitted favorite nephew’s wacky business schemes, we have been insulated from the worst consequences of our own stupidity. Love him or hate him, Patrick Leahy did bring a lot of pork back to this state. But, Leahy, our indulgent rich uncle, is no longer writing us outsized checks from Washington. Peter Welch is no Pat Leahy. So, we better get our act together, grow up fast, and start adopting responsible policies and programs that work to solve real problems in real world conditions. We know what they are.    

Rob Roper is a freelance writer who has been involved with Vermont politics and policy for over 20 years. This article reprinted with permission from Behind the Lines: Rob Roper on Vermont Politics,

Categories: Commentary

8 replies »

  1. THANK YOU Rob Roper!

    WOW! Your article is filled with so much common sense, critical thinking and facts. Unfortunately, we know the majority of persons in power in Vermont and elsewhere don’t use facts, common sense or reasoning. They instead “feel” to get their beliefs and make their decisions.

    How are we to realistically deal with this?

    • Yup, they want to feel the emotion of the “science”, aka progressive scientism.

  2. Relying on Federal pork and dollars is a very bad strategy. This stark reality may soon bite Vermont very hard because Federal money is nothing short of a bunch IOUs for just bout every program. The Federal deficit keeps growing, the legislatures cave to raising the debt ceiling, more fiat currency gets printed and the entire house of cards grows increasingly both taller and more unstable. If the Vermont legislature was comprised of more sound minds, fiscal responsibility would be a first priority. Instead they choose to represent the vocal minority that pushes CRT, Diversity, Inclusion and Equity (or DIE as I prefer to reference it), “green” energy which is only green locally because the dirty business of mining and manufacturing the components occurs far away. Wait till these components need to be recycled, then what? And so the legislature prefers sex change and abortion tourism as a business model, both of which are inherently immoral.

  3. Considering that Montpelier is a ghost town, (ever since The Usurpers have taken over) please tell me WHO is making all these decisions???

    And to all writing stories such as these: Am I the only one who knows that the Great and Powerful VT Oz regime made a law that requires that all voting be done by the DOMINION machines.

    My point? Vermonters have not been able to vote in ANYONE. NOT ANYONE.

    It’s time to vote out CHINA. CHINA owns and operates Vermont.


  4. Thank you Mr. Roper for this enlightening study on the stark differences between freedom and capitalism vs the oppression and authoritarianism of the left . This data is sure to be ignored by the leftist elite who, as you say double down and keep trying the same thing to greater and greater degrees expecting different results. They need to learn that the ways of Marx, Alinsky and Soros are not what the Forefathers of this once-great nation intended for us to live under. The left likes to dazzle us with “studies” and “data” and authoritative-sounding experts with British accents on public radio, and you have brought the discussion down to earth with your illustration of “flaming bag of dog poo”. Also useful is reminding people that our long time sugar daddy, Pat Leahy is no longer bringing home the federal bacon and those attempting to fill his shoes just dont have the same clout with the public treasury.

    • “Pat Leahy is no longer bringing home the federal bacon and those attempting to fill his shoes just don’t have the same clout with the public treasury.”

      … especially our compromised representative who still hasn’t given back the $991K of campaign funds STOLEN from RTX clients. They are still waiting Becca !

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