Legislative economist questions state’s stimulus plans

first_imgThe economist contracted by the Legislature for consultation and analysis has sent a scathing report back to the Joint Fiscal Office in regards to a bill before the Senate Finance Committee called “Vermont Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (S.137).” Tom Kavet is an economist from Williamstown. As part of his introduction, he says, “Virtually none of the proposed programs that reduce revenues or increase spending represent any net economic stimulus benefit to the State.” He questions essentially all of the measures as benefitting near-term economic stimulus. He suggests that maximizing federal stimulus funds is by far the best opportunity for the state to recover from the current recession. He also makes a case that a fully funded “rainy day fund (a reserve fund used to make up for lost tax revenues in bad times and replenished during good times)” would be logical public policy, rather than cutting taxes in good times and raising taxes in bad times, but which would require a significant change in political will. The current balance of this fund is $60 million.He goes on to say that the state lacks a comprehensive economic development plan. And even mentions that the popular “sales tax holiday” from last summer and touted as a stimulus measure, “probably actually resulted in a small net economic loss.” He also says that cutting state programs or laying off state workers also would result in a net loss to the economy over the next two years. Below is his overview to the report (click here for the full report).To: Steve Klein, Legislative Joint Fiscal OfficeFrom: Tom KavetKavet, Rockler & Associates, LLCWilliamstown, VermontWebsite: www.kavetrockler.com(link is external)CC: Senate Finance CommitteeDate: April 8, 2009Re: Requested Review of Proposed Vermont Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, S.137OVERVIEWPer your request, I have summarized perspectives on the: 1) Costs, 2) Near-Term Economic Stimulus Effects and 3) Policy Considerations, associated with the 121 relevant sections proposed in S.137, the Vermont Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.While the bleak economic conditions that were originally cited as the rationale for this legislation are real and present, the efficacy of many of the 121 measures contained withinthem to address these conditions can only be described as minor, and in some cases, misguided. Many of the measures are revised versions of programs that have either had little or no beneficial impact as previously enacted or proposed measures that have been rejected in prior legislative sessions.Many of the measures represent substantial State expenditures of revenues – whether as tax expenditures that reduce revenues, loan loss guarantees that may reduce revenues, or direct expenditures – at a time of severe revenue stress. Virtually none of the proposed programs that reduce revenues or increase spending represent any net economic stimulus benefit to the State. This is because they must be funded with offsetting tax increases or spending cuts (see page 2 insert for more a more detailed discussion). Few of the proposed measures provide clear goals stating expected public benefits for these public expenditures, and fewer still provide transparent public oversight to insure that these benefits are achieved. Most importantly, the larger policy framework and supporting analysis within which these measures fit, is absent. As noted in comparable pending House legislation, Vermont lacks a shared statewide vision of its economic future ¦[and] lacks a single, holistic, integrated state plan for economic development. (See H.313)Without a coherent plan and credible planning entity, such measures accumulate, overlap and add to administrative (and user) chaos with those already passed, many of which are unused, unevaluated and of uncertain benefit. Without a strategic plan, the efficiency of public expenditures is diluted and policy priorities remain vague. Economic development becomes a catch-all for anything any other state is doing and anything that might help. While the political impetus to do something is understandable at times like this, it is important to understand the limitations of state economic policy options that can truly impact the broader economy. For example, the beneficial economic impact of almost all of the non- ARRA measures proposed in the subject legislation would be exceeded by the expenditure of the State Rainy Day Fund (about $60 million) and would be dwarfed by the negative economic impact of laying off substantial numbers of state workers and cutting expenditures for essential state services.The most impactful portions of the proposed legislation are those related to maximizing the receipt and expenditure of federal economic stimulus dollars. There is no other single public policy action the State can take with greater beneficial impact on the State s economy over the next two years than measures to aggressively attract and utilize the massive ARRA funds now becoming available (see chart, next page). Proposals in this legislation that maximize and rely on this funding have powerful beneficial economic and fiscal impacts because, for the most part, they do not require any additional State taxation or offsetting spending cutbacks to finance. With nearly $1.5 billion in potential state investment, these policy areas should receive the highest legislative priority.Administrative concerns associated with these proposals should also be given fair weight. All too often, programs are rushed into existence without careful planning regarding compliance, operation and public oversight. The VEPC EATI program, for example, was developed with the best of intentions, but without careful consideration as to how the program would be policed and managed, and resulted in the loss of millions of dollars in taxpayer money due to program loopholes and abuse. All of the large programmatic proposals should be thoroughly vetted by the Tax Department, Joint Fiscal Office and other administrative agencies to determine administrative costs and concerns regarding program operation before passage, and all should have some form of public oversight and follow-up to insure that the expected benefits are received.The below assessments for individual sections of this bill should be considered preliminary, since new information is being made available daily and statutory revisions are being constantly introduced. This memo is based on statutory language as of March 27, 2009. Updated analyses will be made available to various committees upon request as these proposals move through the legislative process.last_img read more

Middlesex bowler to head to New Zealand

first_imgMiddlesex bowler Steven Finn will join New Zealand side Otago Volts for a month following his involvement with the England One-Day squad’s tour of India. The 22-year-old is set to play in four matches for Volts, starting with their opening Plunket Shield game against Canterbury in Rangiora on 7 November.“I felt it was crucial to get some four-day cricket under my belt prior to hopefully getting selected for England’s series against Pakistan in UAE in January,” said Finn.AdChoices广告“Therefore when the opportunity to play in New Zealand came up, I jumped at the chance.”last_img read more

Thursday September 26th Local Sports

first_imgDETROIT (AP) — On Wednesday night, the stars were Randy Dobnak, Luis Arraez and Eddie Rosario — but really it could have been anyone.The Minnesota Twins are AL Central champions because of contributions from all over the roster.Arraez and Rosario homered, and Dobnak allowed one hit in six sparkling innings to lead Minnesota to a 5-1 win over the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night. The Twins later clinched the division title when Cleveland lost to the White Sox in Chicago.It’s the first division title for Minnesota since 2010 and will be only its second postseason appearance since then. The Twins (98-60) have their highest victory total since the 1970 team also won 98 games.Minnesota wrapped up its win over the Tigers well before the Chicago-Cleveland game ended. That game was on television in the Minnesota clubhouse, where the Twins ate, played cards and waited calmly for a possible celebration.As the White Sox closed out that 8-3 victory — first letting the Indians load the bases in the ninth inning — shouts could be heard in the hallway outside the Twins’ clubhouse.The previous decade was much more successful for Minnesota, which won the division in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2009. That run abruptly came to an end another AL Central title in 2010. Now the decade of the 2010s will end the way it started — with the Twins atop the division.They’ve won with an offense that is tied for the major league lead in home runs with a record 299. That’s been a team effort, with five players hitting over 30 and three more with over 20. The homer by Arraez was only his fourth of the season.The winning pitcher Wednesday was a rookie who two years ago was playing for the Utica Unicorns of the United Shore Professional Baseball League. The Twins signed Dobnak to a minor league contract that year. The 24-year-old Dobnak (2-1) allowed no scoring by Detroit after an unearned run in the first. INDIANOLA – The NIACC women’s golf team placed third with a 362 at the Simpson College Fall Invitational on Wednesday.Host Simpson was the team champion with a 338 and Grand View was second with a 352 in the seven-team tournament at the Indianola Country Club.NIACC was led by freshman Thea Lunning with a career-best 41-38 – 79. Lunning was third in the individual medalist competition.Also for NIACC, sophomore Jordyn Barragy shot a career-best 40-43 – 83. Last spring at the Simpson College Invitational, Barragy shot a 102.Freshman Ashley Voves shot a 47-50 – 97 and Abby Murray shot a 47-56 – 103.NIACC returns to action Sunday at the Waldorf University Invitational at Wedgewood Cove Golf Club in Albert Lea, Minn. IOWA CITY — Iowa is a better than three touchdown favorite against Middle Tennessee State but freshman center Tyler Linderbaum says the 14th ranked Hawkeyes will not be looking past the Blue Raiders. Iowa enters its final non-conference game with a 3-0 record.Middle Tennessee State is averaging just over 414 yards of offense in a 1-2 start. Hawkeye defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon.A major factor in Iowa’s solid start has been the kicking of Keith Duncan. He is perfect on eight field goal attempts and kicked four of them in an 18-17 win at Iowa State.Kickoff at Kinnick Stadium is scheduled for 11 o’clock, with the pre-game show scheduled for 9 o’clock on AM-1300 KGLO AMES — Iowa State receiver La’Michael Pettway says the Cyclones are confident heading into Saturday’s Big 12 opener at Baylor. The graduate transfer from Arkansas has 12 receptions including three touchdowns in a 2-1 start to the season.Pettway says quarterback Brock Purdy shows leadership qualities rarely seen in a sophomore.Pettway says Purdy has a very high football IQ.Kickoff on Saturday between Iowa State and Baylor is scheduled for 2:30.center_img DETROIT (AP) — Minnesota reliever Sam Dyson had surgery on his shoulder, ending the right-hander’s season and potentially putting 2020 in jeopardy as well. Dyson had the capsule repair operation Tuesday in California. Manager Rocco Baldelli said the timeline isn’t firm, but it could be a year before he can pitch in a game again. The Twins acquired Dyson from San Francisco at the trade deadline this year. WEST BURLINGTON — The NIACC volleyball team picked up a three set sweep at Southeastern Community College last night. The Lady Trojans won 25-21, 25-14, and 25-19. NIACC is now 15-5 overall and 3-1 in conference play. They’ll travel to Waverly on Friday to face the Wartburg College junior varsity.last_img read more

Pandemic expected to keep Memorial Day travel down despite lower gas prices

first_imgDES MOINES — Gasoline prices in Iowa are averaging almost a dollar lower than last year, but it won’t be enough to lure most of us to take a road trip for Memorial Day weekend.Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Rose White, at AAA-Iowa, says the motor club isn’t releasing a holiday weekend travel forecast for the first time in 20 years. “Last year, 43-million Americans traveled for the holiday weekend, it was the second-highest travel volume on record since we began tracking information,” White says, “but with social distancing guidelines still in practice, this holiday weekend’s travel volume is likely to set a record low.”Travel Iowa ran a full-page ad in some newspapers last week featuring a couple on a deck overlooking a wide vista of green hills with just four words — “Dream Now, Visit Later.” White says many Iowa families will be doing exactly that. “We anticipate that people are going to hold back. For those who maybe had planned a long-distance, maybe an overseas vacation, they’ll likely revert to a local or regional destination,” White says. “We do anticipate as the states relax their laws and regulations pertaining to social distancing, more people will travel, but it will be a slow recovery.”In recent weeks, highway travel in the state was said to be down 44% from normal, according to the Iowa DOT, but over Mother’s Day weekend, the numbers crept up to 75% of normal. Even with that increase, Triple-A is still expecting a potential record low for travel this coming weekend.“The CDC does still recommend that Americans stay home and avoid nonessential travel, but if you do travel this holiday weekend, we do advise you to pack essentials, especially those toiletries that might be needed at rest stops,” White says, “and also, anticipate early closures of restaurants.”Gasoline is averaging a $1.75 a gallon in Iowa, that’s 13-cents below the national average. A year ago, gas prices in Iowa were averaging $2.67 a gallon. The last time the average national gas price leading into the Memorial Day holiday was under $2 a gallon was 17 years ago — in 2003last_img read more