Believe it or not, Vermont’s 2020 legislative session starts in several weeks. Your local State Representatives are holding a community listening session from 9:30-11:00am on Saturday, December 14th. Join us at Sweet Alchemy Bakery & Cafe, in the Barns at Lang Farm. We want to hear about your priorities for the coming session.

There’s a lot to discuss. Each year in late fall, members of the Vermont House and Senate travel to Montpelier for briefings with economists and policy makers. This year’s annual briefing took place on December 4th. If you’re interested to dive into the data, both of these presentations are worth checking out:

https://ljfo.vermont.gov/assets/Publications/Legislative-Briefing-December-4-2019/82b200feb6/Kavet-Legislative-Economic-Review.pdf

https://ljfo.vermont.gov/assets/Publications/Legislative-Briefing-December-4-2019/ffd3d0386a/Klein-Budget-Context-v2.pdf

Some highlights:

The country is in the midst of 126 months of economic expansion, with 109 consecutive months of national job gains. While this growth has slowed some in recent months, jobs continue to be added to the economy, driving unemployment to historic lows. In Vermont, our unemployment rate is the lowest in the nation at 2.2%.

As we experience low unemployment, we’re seeing modest revenue growth in Vermont. Total State revenues through November are at or near expectations, with all three of the State’s major funds (General Fund, Education Fund, and Transportation Fund) exceeding targets. This is good for Vermont’s budget writers, as we near the midpoint of the State fiscal year

Factors that appear to be driving Vermont’s economic performance include strong consumer spending and tourism. The Education Fund, in particular, has benefitted from capturing e-commerce sales tax revenue. Elsewhere, Vermont property values are growing, with the strongest growth in the Chittenden County region. Overall, Vermont property values are outpacing New Hampshire’s, but lag behind New York’s.

While this financial snapshot looks positive, broader economic trends suggest challenges may be on the horizon. Growth in the national debt, driven by tax cuts that were not meaningfully offset by spending reductions, is one area of major concern. On top of this, uncertainty caused by erratic trade policy has driven volatility and uncertainty.

As they say, “it’s complicated.”

This is some of the backdrop we’re considering as we prepare for the 2020 legislative session. I hope you’ll consider joining us on the 14th at Sweet Alchemy. If you’re not able to, I’m always happy to connect. Please feel free to email me at [email protected] or call me at 802-734-8841.

Rep. Dylan Giambatista