Lt. Governor candidate Phil Scott today expressed his concerns about a new study released by the University of Connecticut. The study, which gained the attention of the Vermont press and policymakers this week, found Vermont to be the most expensive state in the country for manufacturers to operate. According to the study, a dollar's worth of manufactured goods costs 95.9 cents to produce in Vermont, which is substantially higher than the national average of 83.3 cents.
For Scott, this study serves as an important reminder of what state leaders need to work on in order to improve Vermont's business climate. "We're all talking about ways to grow the economy and create jobs, and the manufacturing sector provides a lot of opportunities to do that," Scott said. "These are highly skilled, high-paying jobs, and manufactured goods also jumpstart other sectors of the economy, such as packaging, retail and distribution."
"Clearly, our high costs of doing business don't leave much left for a business to grow -- as little as 4 cents for every dollar for manufacturers," he continued. "So it's no surprise that we've seen prominent manufacturers decide to take their production operations elsewhere," he said, citing the departures of Burton Snowboards and Suss Microtec as just two examples.
"So the question all of us in state government have to ask is, what can we do -- specifically -- to lower the costs of labor, materials, and other factors? One obvious answer to that is reducing the tax burden for businesses," Scott said.
This past spring, Scott, who represents Washington County in the Vermont State Senate, worked with fellow Senator Bobby Starr (D-Essex/Orleans) to protect an important tax deduction for Vermont manufacturers. The Federal Domestic Production Deduction, which passes through to a business's Vermont state taxes, was in danger of being cut back during this legislative session. This would have increased the tax burden for Vermont manufacturers, farmers, and other businesses. Senators Scott and Starr were instrumental in leading the fight that ultimately saved the deduction.
"Something else that I believe is a huge impediment to business growth in Vermont is the permitting process," Scott continued. "The intention of our permit system is to encourage responsible development that respects the environment. But the process is so burdensome, what it's actually done is to discourage all development. I want to simplify the process and make it more accessible to businesses, and I believe my leadership experience and my ability to work with members of all parties puts me in a strong position to accomplish these goals."