Daily Archives: January 21, 2023

An Investment is an Investment Except When It’s Not

Gov. Phil Scott delivered a budget address full of “investments’ in Vermont’s future. It’s a great concept, but he fails to apply it consistently. Public sector expenditures he favors are “investments,” but other stuff is just wasteful spending.

The most recent example of this came with the release of a new report on the costs of improving Vermont’s wretched “system” of child care. (As with health care, it’s not so much a “system” as an abstract sculpture made of chicken wire and spit.) The RAND Corporation figures the price tag is between $179 million and $279 million, depending on how generous the package is.

Scott spox Jason Maulucci offered the usual bromide: Scott really, really cares about child care, just not enough to raise any revenue for the purpose. It’s the governor’s customary Susan Collins kind of caring.

The assertion underlying Scott’s position is this: Raising revenue for child care is pretty much exactly like putting tax dollars in a big pile and setting it on fire. Trouble is, there’s all kinds of evidence that improved child care would more than pay for itself — both in short-term economic growth and longer-term outcomes for kids.

You might even say it’s a bargain. Well, I’d say so.

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