Spotlight on Economic Well-Being

hildren — 22% of our population, 100% of our future

The economy is hurting right now — and so are thousands of Vermont’s children and families. We don’t know yet how many more Vermonters’ economic survival will be threatened by the downturn, but we do know that thousands of families are already struggling and thousands of children are already growing up in poverty.

This week’s Spotlight on Vermont’s Kids features Voices’ two-page fact sheet on the economic well-being of children and families in Vermont. Highlights include:

  • * Children are the poorest age group in Vermont
  • * Rural poverty persists in the Northeast Kingdom
  • * 12,300 children each month needed food shelves in 2008

Our kids can’t wait for the economy to rebound to grow up. We need to make sure we support them now by continuing to fund programs and services that allow them to develop and thrive — and we can do that with a balanced approach that includes all options: using federal stimulus money, tapping into the rainy day fund, and raising new revenue. Vermont has choices in responding to the economic downturn. Investing in our kids and families is the best way to ensure a bright and prosperous future for Vermont.

Budget Cuts Will Hurt Children and Struggling Families

Click here for a list of rescissions and proposals that affect kids and families.

The Federal Stimulus and Vermont

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as recently passed by Congress is designed to stimulate the economy and help states avert budget cuts that will worsen the downturn and hurt vulnerable citizens. The Center for Budget Policies and Priorities has released information on how the funds will be distributed. According to their estimates, Vermont will receive:

  • $280 million for Medicaid
  • $94.4 million through the State Stabilization fund (including $77.2 million for education)
  • $34 million for increased Food Stamp benefits
  • $2.8 million for child care
  • In addition, 245,000 Vermonters will benefit from a Making Work Pay tax credit

Snelling Surcharge

A bill introduced by Rep. Michael Fisher and co-sponsored by 21 other legislators proposes a temporary income surcharge to help preserve vital public services and structures. As reported in the Free Press, the surcharge would translate to:

  • An extra $66 (per year in state taxes) for an individual making $46,700, or about the price of one small cup of coffee ($1.27) a week.
  • An extra $92 (per year in state taxes) for a couple earning $70,000, or about the price of a single movie ticket ($7.67) per month.

Public Assets Institute information on the economy and the budget

An Irrational Fear of Taxes: “According to the governor, some middle-income Vermonters can afford to give up 5 percent of their salaries to help balance the state budget. Meanwhile, he says, asking others with the same income to pay far less than 5 percent in additional taxes would make living in Vermont ‘unaffordable.’ ”

Stimulus Package Can Help Vermont Avoid Budget Cuts: “Before we decimate programs that we’ll wish we had in a year or two, we should wait to see exactly what Vermont will receive through the new federal stimulus plan.”

Recessions Past: What Worked Then Can Work Again: “The country has faced two other big recessions in the last 25 years—in the early 1980s and in the early 1990s—and Vermont’s response to those downturns is instructive about what the state can do this time.”