Just a week into the general election, Vermont Democrat gubernatorial candidate Christine Hallquist has proven that she can’t be trusted to tell the truth.
She continues to stand by her false claim that she “never” stated that she would raise taxes on Vermont families, and has responded to criticism of her inconsistency by asserting that her detractors are “making up numbers.”
Unfortunately for Hallquist, the numbers are real. When Governor Phil Scott stood against a nearly $100 million tax increase passed by the Democrat-controlled state legislature, which included a $58 million property tax increase, Hallquist fiercely criticized the governor while clearly stating that she supported the legislature’s tax plan. Hallquist is also on the record stating that income taxes would go up as part of her proposed changes to the state’s school-funding formula. In addition, Hallquist has come out in favor of proposals that would lead to a carbon tax in Vermont.
It’s a clear fact that there are few tax hikes that Hallquist isn’t in favor of as she promises to raise or impose new income taxes, carbon taxes, and property taxes on working Vermonters. No matter how hard she tries to mislead voters, Hallquist can’t run from her own words.
Hallquist supports replacing the property tax-based school funding formula with an income tax formula that would increase income taxes as the primary source of school funding. “[Host] What do you replace the property tax with? [Hallquist] Our legislature started to work towards that direction. An income based formula. [Host] An income based formula? So basically income taxes would replace property taxes as the primary source of school funding. Income taxes would obviously have to go up right? [Hallquist] Of course. You have to find a way to get the revenue so you have got to change things.” (Source: Dave Gram on The Road, “Nickels For Clean Water, Domestic Violence, And Hallquist’s Hopes,” Timestamp, 1:29:26, WDEV, July 9, 2018)
In May 2018, Gov. Scott opposed budgets that would have amounted to an $83 million tax increase, and $58 million would come in the form of property tax increases. “Republican Vermont Gov. Phil Scott wants the Democratic-controlled state Legislature to sign onto his plan limiting state tax increases… Scott said Thursday an expected increase of $83 million would hinder growth within the state and make its economy less competitive with lower-tax neighbors… ‘This approach is not acceptable to me, and honestly it doesn’t make any sense to me either,’ Scott said… He says the tax increase is largely driven by an increase in school budgets, and $58 million would come in the form of property tax increases… Democratic lawmakers said voters approved their school budgets earlier this year.” (Source: “Vermont Governor Continues to Oppose Proposed Tax Increases,” The Associated Press, May 10, 2018)
Gov. Scott called the legislature back into session after he declined to sign a budget that contained $33.4 million increase in property tax rates. “Governor Phil Scott released a letter to legislative leadership Tuesday evening indicating that he will call a Special Session of the Legislature to begin next Wednesday, May 23. The governor is declining to sign the $5.8 billion budget and related education spending bill because of what he views as a tax hike to cover education expenses. Because this is a Special Session and not a Veto Session, any piece of legislation can be brought to the floor. Scott hopes to wrap up the session on Friday, May 25… Below is a copy of the letter Governor Scott sent legislative leaders earlier this afternoon. It offers next steps to reaching an agreement that ensures, in his view, that Vermonters don’t see the $33.4 million increase in property tax rates passed by the Legislature – particularly in a year in which the administration has identified $160 million in new money without raising taxes and fees. The governor previously proposed a five-year plan, which he said identifies funding sources and policy mechanisms to keep rates level this year, as well as achieving nearly $200 million in property tax relief and nearly $300 million in savings to invest in educational opportunities over the next five years.” (Source: “Scott will call legislators back in session May 23,” Vermont Business Magazine,” May 15, 2018)
Gov. Scott vetoed proposed budgets in May and June because they either contained property tax increases or the possibility of property tax increases. “Gov. Phil Scott kicked off his Memorial Day weekend by vetoing the budget and tax bills that the legislature passed before adjourning earlier this month… My primary objection to the bills … is that together they result in an unnecessary and avoidable $33 million increase in statewide property tax rates,’ Scott wrote in a letter to lawmakers explaining his vetoes.” (Source: Taylor Dobbs, “ Scott Vetoes Vermont State Budget, Tax Bills,” Seven Days VT, May 26, 2018)
Following Scott’s veto of the budget in May 2018, legislative leaders put together a proposal that Hallquist endorsed – “They have a plan and they’re carrying it through, and I support their plan.” “Following Scott’s veto of the state budget, legislative leaders put together a new plan that includes most of the state finance bills they passed earlier this year other than the controversial elements.” (Source: Elizabeth Hewitt, “Christine Hallquist backs Democratic leadership on budget plan,” VT Digger, May 31, 2018)
VT Digger, May 31, 2018: “Hallquist issued an ardent endorsement of the proposal the legislative leadership is currently working to advance… She said that she has been in touch with legislators about the situation, but has not offered suggestions on how to proceed, because she would ‘never want to second guess’ their approach…‘They have a plan and they’re carrying it through, and I support their plan,’ she said.” (Source: Elizabeth Hewitt, “Christine Hallquist backs Democratic leadership on budget plan,” VT Digger, May 31, 2018)
VIDEO of Christine Hallquist: “His vetoes of the budget and education funding represent a failure to govern.” HALLQUIST: “His vetoes of the budget and education funding represent a failure to govern. The Governor claims that Vermonters did not know what they were voting for when they overwhelmingly passed their school budgets town meeting in May town meeting day sorry. Vermonters met this challenge and kept the increases well below 2.5 percent. Communities have done an outstanding job in terms of affordability and fiscal responsibility.” (Source: “Christine Hallquist – Division to Cooperation,” Timestamp: 02:16, Christine Hallquist Vimeo page, Uploaded June 4, 2018)
(Source: Christine Hallquist, Twitter, June 15, 2018)
Hallquist wrote an op-ed after Scott’s second veto and said it appears that we have a governor who does not understand how to lead or what it means to be fiscally responsible. “For the second time, Phil Scott has vetoed the budget passed by the Legislature. The original budget presented to the governor had near unanimous tri-partisan support. I do not believe that the governor is striving for compromise — his opposition to a budget bill that was so overwhelmingly supported by the Legislature puts the responsibility to avoid a shutdown on him, not on anyone else… Furthermore, it appears that we have a governor who does not understand how to lead or what it means to be fiscally responsible.” (Source: Christine Hallquist op-ed, “Scott is not leading,” VT Digger, June 21, 2018)
“Our governor has also demonstrated that he does not understand sound fiscal policy. For the second year in a row, he is advocating for the use of one-time money to pay down taxes.” “Our governor has also demonstrated that he does not understand sound fiscal policy. For the second year in a row, he is advocating for the use of one-time money to pay down taxes, while not properly funding pension funds that the state is legally obligated to pay. Any good business leader knows that the pension fund is exposed to the wild swings of the financial markets and an organization can suffer severe repercussions by not funding them properly — especially in today’s uncertain economic times. The budget that he vetoed would have invested $35 million of the surplus to pay down those pension obligations, which would have resulted in a $100 million savings over the long term. Our governor is essentially trying to buy votes rather than lead the state responsibly.” (Source: Christine Hallquist op-ed, “Scott is not leading,” VT Digger, June 21, 2018)
“[Hallquist:] I recognize that a price on carbon is one of the most effective public policies that exist in order to reduce carbon” (Source: “Christine Hallquist Talks Carbon Tax,” YouTube, Uploaded August 22, 2018)
The ‘Essex Plan’ included a “so-called carbon tax.” “In the wake of record-setting fall temperatures, two Vermont lawmakers announced Wednesday that they will seek a tax on propane, natural gas, heating fuel and gas. The so-called carbon tax is designed to curb fossil use and carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to climate change… Money collected from the tax would be used to significantly lower electricity rates for Vermonters… Dubbed the Essex (Economy Strengthening Strategic Energy Exchange) Plan, the proposal would cut Vermonters’ electricity rates by an average of 27 percent, proponents said. The plan would offer monthly per-kilowatt rebates for all Vermonters, plus monthly rebates aimed at rural and low-income Vermonters.” (Source: Mike Polhamus, “New carbon tax proposal would lower power rates,” VT Digger, Dec. 7, 2017)
VT Digger, Dec. 7, 2017: “The carbon tax bill would initially add 4 cents to a gallon of gasoline, over an eight-year period the rate would gradually increase to 32 cents a gallon… Half of the revenue would go back to Vermonters in the form of a per-kilowatt rebate on monthly electricity bills, according to the plan. The other half would pay for monthly rebates for low- and moderate-income Vermonters (those earning less than 400 percent of federal poverty level, or around $90,000 for a family of four) and for rural Vermonters who earn less than $75,000 annually… If a rebate exceeds the amount of a utility bill, the ratepayer will receive a check.” (Source: Mike Polhamus, “New carbon tax proposal would lower power rates,” VT Digger, Dec. 7, 2017)
In a 2018 radio interview, Hallquist expressed support for the Essex Plan. “[Caller] Well I guess I had a question in regards to how we can prevent climate change. Would you be in favor of the Essex plan? As it pertains to reducing climate change. Would you sign that bill if you became governor? “[Hallquist] Yeah I will tell you that I have studies policies and there are a lot of national studies done on effective policies. Putting a price on carbon is the most effective public policy. Again you will know as a governor I will be a very collaborative leader. Working closely with the legislature to make sure we address all the issues. As long as we, I will also tell you, you know when I was CEO we served 18 out of the 25 poorest communities. So you absolutely have to address economic justice issues in order to solve climate change, that’s what I learned. Certainly we need to address how that’s going to impact those people who live on the lowest economic margins. Because they can’t necessarily go out and buy a new vehicle. So if their cost of fossil fuels goes up, we have to figure out how to make it so it’s not more difficult for our poor, the people living in poverty. Also, same thing ill refer, they can’t, a lot of these folks are renters so they can’t necessarily go out and change your furnace. But I will tell you that is that most effective method of mitigating carbon is going through a price on carbon. “[Caller]: So if the administrative costs are on […] and a steady plan that comes in to the summer and I guess the legislature is looking at that. If the administrative cost was to prohibitive, would you have second thoughts about signing a bill like that? “[Hallquist] Oh yeah of course. We definitely don’t want to add costs. Yeah of course, again that goes to the economic justice issues. We don’t want to burden more costs to Vermonters. “[Caller] Sure. Right. Ok that’s reassuring.” (Source: Dave Gram on The Road, “Nickels For Clean Water, Domestic Violence, And Hallquist’s Hopes,” WDEV, time stamp, 1:10:42 July 9, 2018)
When pressed on the Essex Plan and a carbon tax, Hallquist said that “the word tax becomes extremely inflammatory” and went on to assert that taxes are the most effective public policy “[Host] David refresh us what are the basic elements of the Essex Plan just for our listeners “[Caller] Sure. Yeah, yeah. Not everyone is aware of that. So the Essex Plan put a tax, or increase a tax from, over the next eight years on the price of carbon so that it would increase the price of gasoline, I believe up to, I think it will be about 30 or 40 cents at the max. Then a similar tax on heat and oil, propane and other fossil fuels. After that, they will, after they take out the administrative costs, they will redistribute that to businesses in residential Vermonters in the form of a rebate on their electric bills. “[Host] I see. So. This originally was described as a carbon tax when it was. I went to a news conference back in, it was at the Cap agency in Berry probably in 2014 or somewhere in there. They were talking up the idea like this of putting a tax on carbon. So that is the essential element at the center of the […] plan. “[Caller] Yes, yeah. I believe it’s a carbon tax and their just hoping to give that money back to […] money that they have left over. Which I guess I am hesitant to see before the […] committee comes forward with their results. I have just seen examples of government programs that run far above expectations of what they are supposed to cost. [Host] Sure, got it. Ok well thank you very much for the call. Appreciate it. Interesting issue you raised. Just let me get you to reiterate Christine Hallquist, so you would support this? You like the idea of putting a tax on carbon to discourage its fossil fuel use and put the money into other uses? “[Hallquist] Well I will tell you, you have got to be careful. I mean I think using the word tax, especially with what has happened recently, becomes extremely inflammatory. I am open to all new ideas, and again, a study of public policy shows it is more effective, the most effective public policy. But the listener brings up a very important point. The last thing we ought to do is increase cost burden to Vermonters. I would also say that, I would also want to look at all the other regulations that are in place. Because what we don’t want to do is to add and add and add to regulation without looking at the most effective regulations. So that may displace other regulations as well. But it’s one of those things. Of course it’s a good idea to look at other options, and I would want to do a deep dive with the legislature just as we’ve done as utilities. One of the things I am proud about Vermont is, is we all pull together to achieve a common goal. I will use act 56 which we all utilities work with legislature on in 2014. Which I think is the most advanced climate change in the nation.” (Source: Dave Gram on The Road, “Nickels For Clean Water, Domestic Violence, And Hallquist’s Hopes,” WDEV, time stamp, 1:12:41, July 9, 2018)
Hallquist: “I don’t want to miss innovative ideas like a price on carbon, by using language that may have been coopted by others.” “[Host] Before the break, you expressed a lot of reluctance to use the T word, tax, when referring to a possible new levy on carbon based fossil fuels. I just sort of sat back for a moment and thought to myself. If we can’t use the word tax anymore in our political discourse, taxes are a pretty matter of fact thing that are based on various degrees on various things to fund a government. We talk about property taxes we talk about income taxes, we talk about sales taxes, etcetera, etcetera. If all the sudden in our political discourse if we are not allowed to use the word tax, I am thinking to myself. Who has kind of gotten control on the language here and has scared so many people on this particular usage. Tell me a little bit about your reluctance to use to use that word when, that is what we are talking about right, a tax on fossil fuels? “Hallquist […] Let me get to the language issue. I am all about pulling people together and not separating people. You know I look at how labels and language have often been used to divide people. So I am very careful about the language because I don’t want to miss innovative ideas like a price on carbon, by using language that may have been coopted by others.” (Source: Dave Gram on The Road, “Nickels For Clean Water, Domestic Violence, And Hallquist’s Hopes,” WDEV, time stamp, 1:16:43, July 9, 2018)
Saying No To Taxes Is A “No-Brain Activity”
Christine Hallquist said that just saying ‘no’ to new taxes is a “no-brain activity” and we need a leader who uses their brain to make strategic investments. “You know, just saying, ‘No to New Taxes’ is a no-brain activity and we need a leader who uses their brain to make strategic investments. And what we’re talking about here with water quality is a strategic investment.” (Source: “Christine Hallquist: “Saying No To New Taxes Is A No-Brain Activity”, YouTube, August 16, 2018)