Daily Archives: November 6, 2019

Phil Scott draws a line in the sand

Of course, “a line in the sand” is the easiest thing to erase.

Last Friday on VPR’s “Vermont Edition,” Gov. Phil Scott asserted that Vermont faces a $70-80 million budget shortfall.

Err, well, not quite.

What he actually said was, Vermont “maybe” faces what “could” be a gap of $70-80 million between revenue and spending. And those weren’t the only qualifiers. In fact, if you read a transcript of his remarks, you might wonder what he actually meant to say. (Part of Scott’s charm, and his political appeal, is that if you listen to him long enough you’re almost certain to hear something you can agree with.)

As far as I can recall, this is the first time Scott has made this claim, which seems to be a gauntlet thrown at the legislature’s feet. It’s familiar and politically attractive ground for the Republican governor, who has to deal with a restless base (and a conservative challenger) in the 2020 primary. Being tough on the budget is Scott’s best tactic for shoring up the base — and for drawing a distinction between himself and those evil, big-spending Democrats and their endless appetite for raising taxes.

That’s a joke, by the way. The Dems may be fiscally looser than the Repubs, but they are about as far as you can get from Tax-And-Spend Libertines as you can get. Just ask any of the four money committee chairs.

But let’s get back to the governor’s remarks. (NOTE: All transcripts are mine, and are as accurate as I could get. I left out the stammers and false starts, which were quite numerous. The gov wasn’t on his A-Game.) Start with this… um… not-a-sentence.

We’re seeing a lot of pressures, maybe even creating a $70-80 million gap between what we’re taking in and, if all remains the same, that we would feel.

I listened to this passage several times, and that’s what I heard. Let’s leave aside the disconnect between the beginning and the ending, and focus on the “maybe even creating” part. He’s not claiming an actual $70-80M gap; he’s saying that budgetary pressures could, at worst, create such a gap.

Continue reading
Advertisements

Marlboro “merger” shows just how bad things are in higher ed

Nice little place you got here. Shame if something happened to it.

Marlboro College has announced an “alliance” with Boston-based Emerson College, which basically involves Marlboro paying $40 million for the right to be chewed up and swallowed.

Such a deal.

The southern Vermont school has been searching for a partner, and this agreement shows just how desperate the search had become. Marlboro is signing over its $30 million endowment and its $10 million real estate portfolio to Emerson which, I guess, means that Marlboro’s market value was negative $40 million? Yikes.

Here’s a little whipped cream on that sundae: Marlboro says it’s shutting down after the current academic year — but this “merger” won’t be finalized until next July!

After the college shuts down.

So, what’s Plan B? We all set ourselves on fire?

Continue reading