You Can't Take It With You, Vermont Edition
by Rob in Vermont, Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 07:38:15 PM EDT
Vermont politics has been pretty interesting lately. In April, our Legislature became the first in the nation to vote in favor of marriage equality for gay couples. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor, but our Republican governor, Jim Douglas, vetoed it nonetheless. This posed no problem in the State Senate, where Democrats hold a huge majority. But in the last election cycle, Democrats (along with a handful of Progressives) also gained enough seats to comprise just exactly a veto-proof majority in the House. Still, a handful of conservative Democrats would not support marriage equality (including the two who happen to represent my district.) Fortunately they were balanced by a handful of Republicans who voted for equality (including, most surprisingly, a conservative Republican in my parents' district: you could have knocked me over with a feather when I heard that, I had assumed that guy was a total dittohead!), giving just enough votes to override our obstinate governor - who then obnoxiously sniffed that "this is not a time for congratulations". OK Jim, if you don't happen to care that a minority has just gained a right they had always been denied, or if you haven't spent years in the grassroots working to build support for this civil right, or if you don't know or can't even imagine anyone who has, then I suppose it's not a time for you to offer congratulations, it's just a time to pout. Goodness knows that's something our Governor excels at!
Then just about a week ago, for the first time in Vermont history, the Governor vetoed the budget passed by the Legislature. The Democrats held together, and along with the Progressives, overrode the Governor for a second time. Don't tread on us, Jim!
Here's another bit of local good news that may bother some true dittoheads - a frontpage story in today's Burlington Free Press which illustrates on a small scale (like most things in my state!) the benefits of the estate tax, which Republicans who favor aristocracy over the health of society call the "death tax":
As lawmakers were stretching the last nickels and dimes to pull together the 2010 state budget last week, an unlikely thing happened: A $13 million windfall blew through the door.
That's how much the state received in estate tax from one person's estate last month.
"That's a very unusual, large, one-time estate tax," said Tax Commissioner Tom Pelham. He is precluded by law from identifying the estate's owner. Somewhere in Vermont, someone died last year who was worth something on the order of $80 million to $100 million.
For the state, the $13 million in unexpected revenue is like an inheritance from a long lost relative and couldn't have come at a better time. Various revenue that fund state spending have shrunk in the last year because of the ailing economy, forcing program cuts and layoffs.
According to the article, $1.5 million of this revenue has been earmarked so far, to fill a gap in college scholarships. It's a worthy legacy for this unnamed person, who hopefully did not mind forfeiting a portion of their wealth back to the society which provided this person all the various forms of economic and legal infrastructure that were necessary for them to have accumulated and enjoyed such vast wealth during their lifetime.