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

Captain Fox looking for Tipp backlash in Cavan

first_imgThe Tipp footballers’ backs are against the wall going into Saturday’s game against Cavan in round 2A of the football qualifiers.If they lose, they’re out of this year’s Championship.Tipp captain Brian Fox is hopeful the team will be able to make up for a disappointing loss to Cork in the Munster championship. He says they’ll go in all guns blazing against Cavan.Throw in on Saturday is at 2pm at Kingspan Breffni Park, and Tipp FM will have full live commentary of the game.last_img

More Ships with Sick Passengers Seek to Dock at Port Everglades

first_imgOther ships with pending arrivals reportedly include Princess Cruises’ Coral Princess, which is carrying a “higher-than-normal” number of passengers with flu-like symptoms, according to the cruise line. It is scheduled to arrive at Port Everglades on Saturday.Princess Cruises adds that many of its sick passengers have tested positive for regular flu, adding that due to the concern over the coronavirus, “guests have been asked to self-isolate in their staterooms and all meals will now be delivered by room service.” In addition, crew members who are not on shift will remain in their staterooms.UPDATED: Cruise Ship with 4 Dead of Coronavirus Cleared to Pass through Panama Canal to Port Everglades Two more cruise ships with sick people aboard are on their way to South Florida.The Celebrity Silhouette and Caribbean Princess have some crew members who are experiencing flu-like symptoms.Four of the Silhouette’s crew members are sick but in stable condition. They have been placed in isolation, but have not been tested for the coronavirus.The Caribbean Princess also has at least one crew member in isolation because of a flu-like illness.Meanwhile, a debate has ensued in recent days about whether ships with sick people should be allowed to dock at Port Everglades.Some say ships docking could spread disease and overcrowd the region’s hospitals, while those in favor of allowing ships to dock mention compassion for the sick.Broward County commissioners are still reviewing whether to allow two Holland America cruise ships to dock at the port.One of those ships, the Zaandam, had four people die, in addition to nearly 200 who became sick.The commissioners’ decision is still pending. A meeting is being considered for Thursday morning before the ships are scheduled to arrive.Celebrity Silhouette and Caribbean Princess, neither of which have passengers aboard, planned to enter Port Everglades later Wednesday, according to Glenn Wiltshire, acting port director.The Coast Guard had initially denied the Celebrity Silhouette’s request to enter American waters, but later cleared the ship for entry when the Coast Guard adequate safety measures would be taken. In addition, only healthy crew members will be taken directly to Miami International Airport for international flights.However, the Caribbean Princess still must provide more information before receiving permission to enter the U.S.The Unified Command, which is comprised of the Broward Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Border Patrol and U.S. Coast Guard, plans to meet by conference call late Wednesday to review any additional information submitted by the Princess. In the meantime, the vessel will remain offshore until a plan acceptable to the Unified Command is submitted and approved,” reads a statement from officials.last_img read more

Pa. Scholastic Football Rankings

first_imgSto-Rox quarterback Lenny Williams looks downfield against Neshannock, Williams threw for five touchdowns in the Vikings 34-31 win over the Lancers Sept. 12. The 6-0 Vikings are ranked #2 in the latest PA Class A rankings released Oct. 9. Pennsylvania high school football rankings from PennLive.com, with school’s district in parentheses, followed by record and position in last week’s rankings. NR means not ranked. Teams with an asterisk are the 2012 PIAA champions.___CLASS AAAA – Record – Previous Rank1. Upper St. Clair (7) 6-0 – 12. Pittsburgh C.C. (7) 6-0 – 23. St. Joseph’s Prep (12) 4-1 – 34. Coatesville (1- 6-0 – 45. Neshaminy (1) 6-0 – 56. McKeesport (7) 6-0 – 77. La Salle College HS (12) 5-1 – 68. Gateway (7) 6-0 – 89. Wilson-West Lawn (3) 6-0 – 910. Seneca Valley (7) 5-1 – NRTeams to watch: Bayard Rustin (1) 6-0, Cumberland Valley (3) 5-1, Parkland (11) 5-1, Pennsbury (1) 5-1, North Allegheny(asterisk) (7) 4-2, Whitehall (11) 5-1.___CLASS AAA – Record – Previous Rank1. Archbishop Wood (12)- 5-1 – 12. Bishop McDevitt (3) – 6-0 – 23. Thomas Jefferson (7) – 6-0 – 34. Cathedral Prep(asterisk) (10) – 6-0 – 45. West Allegheny (7) – 6-0 – 56. West Mifflin (7) – 6-0 – 67. Manheim Central (3) – 6-0 – 78. Central Valley (7) – 5-1 – 89. Berwick (2) – 6-0 – 910. Pottsgrove (1) – 6-0 – 10Teams to watch: Clearfield (9) 6-0, Abington Heights (2) 6-0, Cocalico (3) 5-1, New Castle (7) 5-1, Scranton Prep (2) 6-0, Slippery Rock (10) 6-0.___CLASS AA – Record – Previous rank1. Aliquippa (7) – 6-0 – 12. Imhotep Charter (12) – 4-1 – 23. West Catholic (12) – 5-1 – 34. Beaver Falls (7) – 6-0 – 45. Richland (6) – 6-0 – 56. Berks Catholic (3) – 6-0 – 67. Washington (7) – 6-0 – 78. South Fayette (7) – 6-0 – 89. Danville (4) – 6-0 – 910. Catasauqua (11) – 6-0 – 10Teams to watch: Mount Pleasant (7) 6-0, Greenville (10) 6-0, Montoursville (4) 6-0, Seton-LaSalle (7) 5-1, Hickory (10) 5-1, Jeannette (7) 4-2.___CLASS A – Record – Previous rank1. Southern Columbia (4) – 6-0 – 12. Sto-Rox (7) – 6-0 – 23. Dunmore (2) – 6-0 – 34. Clairton(asterisk) (7) – 5-1 – 45. North Catholic (7) – 6-0 – 56. Old Forge (2) – 5-1 – 67. Neshannock (7) – 5-1 – 78. Monessen (7) – 5-1 – 89. Steel-High (3) – 5-1 – 910. Bellwood-Antis (6) – 5-1 – NRTeams to watch: Avonworth (7) 5-1, South Williamsport (4) 5-1, Penns Manor (6) 6-0, Fort Cherry (7) 5-1, Lakeview (10) 5-1, Tri-Valley (11) 6-0.last_img read more