Shumlin rolls out a new anti-tax line

As we all know, the most unpopular proposals in Gov. Shumlin’s budget plan are his ideas for raising revenue: slashing the Earned Income Tax Credit, capping Reach Up benefits, and imposing a tax on break-open tickets. The Legislature doesn’t especially like any of them, and has been casting about for alternatives. Many of which fly in the face of Shumlin’s oft-stated opposition to raising “broad-based taxes,” defined by him as income, sales, and rooms and meals.

Meanwhile, Shumlin continues to publicly tout his budget plan. To little apparent effect.

So at his news conference today, he tried a new line. A reporter mentioned New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to turn a temporary tax increase on high earners into a permanent hike, and asked if Shumlin wouldn’t consider raising taxes on the rich. His response? We don’t need to do that because we’ve already slammed the wealthy.

We’re doing it. We have one of the most progressive and highest income taxes on wealthy people in the nation. I’m glad that Governor Cuomo is joining us in that tax policy, because I think those who make the most should pay the most. But we’re doing it right now in Vermont.

When asked again if another increase wouldn’t be appropriate, he replied:

Well, we’ve done it. As you may recall, not only do we have a high marginal rate at the top — 8.9% — but a couple of years ago, I just want to point this out, that over the protestation of Governor Douglas, we through a budget override, we took away the exemption on capital gains which allowed wealthier Vermonters to pay a lower rate of state income tax for capital gain earned income than they do now. And we fixed that.

Vermont’s top tax rate is actually 8.95%, not 8.9. New York’s top rate is 8.82%. See, that 13/100ths of a percent makes all the difference.

After the jump: The Christie Inconsistency, not explained.

Well, that was my cue to mention Shumlin’s recent comments to a New Jersey newspaper, in which he attacked Republican Governor Chris Christie for vetoing “income tax increases for the millionaires and billionaires.” Bear in mind that New Jersey’s top tax rate is 8.97% — virtually identical to and a little bit higher than Vermont’s. Shumlin, er, completely dodged the question.

You know what. Let me talk a little about Governor Christie. I was criticizing Governor Christie’s record as governor. And this is my criticism of Governor. Christie and why I believe [Democratic State Sen.] Barbara Buono would be a better Governor for New Jersey. Governor Christie is one of the few governors in America who got elected along with me and some others in 2010 whose unemployment rate is not much different from when he got elected. Now look at mine. We’ve gone down, last week we were down to 4.7%. If you look at Maryland and massachusetts and some other states around the country, even some with Republican Governors, they’re growing jobs.

Governor Christie made a big deal of saying that if you elected him, he was going to make the NJ comeback happen. Well, it’s been the NJ fallback. They’ve seen property taxes go through the roof, people continue to struggle to find jobs, they are not growing prosperity, and he has shoved expenses onto the struggling middle class. So I just think that change would be good for NJ, and as the Democratic Governors chair, we’re going to do everything we can to bring about that change.

A complete evasion of my question, and a pretty inartful one at that. I remain in a state of puzzlement over why 8.97% is too low for New Jersey’s one-percenters, while 8.95% is as high as Vermont can possibly go.

And somehow I doubt that the Governor’s new, “Hey, I’m the real progressive” argument is going to convince any skeptical Democrats or Progressives in the Legislature.  

4 thoughts on “Shumlin rolls out a new anti-tax line

  1. Having similar marginal rates makes the income taxes appear similar, but they are not. New York uses Federal Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) as the starting point for their state income tax. Vermont uses Federable Taxable income, a much smaller amount. Even if you have a slightly higher marginal rate, if the amount you are taxing is smaller you get a smaller amount of revenue from the tax.

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