Republican gubernatorial candidate Phil Scott released his “comprehensive blueprint for economic growth” on Tuesday, outlining the candidate’s policy proposals to help the state’s economy. The plan includes a number of detailed proposals for changes in the state’s tax policy, but lacks specifics in other areas like “clean and affordable energy.”
Scott stuck with generalities at a news conference Thursday morning.
“Some key components of my approach include protecting jobs and retaining current employers, expanding our workforce and workforce training opportunities, revitalizing our county economic centers, expanding innovation hubs and designated high-tech zones, putting health care reform back on track, increasing the availability of good homes – good homes for working families that they can afford, advancing pro-growth, pro-jobs tax policy, modernizing state government, and insisting that state spending does not grow any faster than the economy or your wages,” Scott said.
The plan itself gives some details.
Scott’s plan included a number of specific tax cuts, including proposals to:
- Eliminate the sales tax on equipment that helps expand broadband or cellular coverage.
- “Phase out” the tax on Social Security income on retirees over 65.
- Restore a Research & Development tax credit for businesses that was cut in 2014.
- Establish a tax break for “Angel Investors” who put money into qualified Vermont businesses.
- Restore tax breaks for film production within the state of Vermont.
Scott’s opponent, Democrat Sue Minter, said his plans for tax cuts are missing a key element.
“Right off the bat, if he hasn’t put forward any ways to pay for those tax credits, I would consider it a very fiscally irresponsible proposal,” she said. “There are lots of great ideas, but we don’t know how he intends to pay for them. And I don’t understand how you put forward a plan without a payment source, particularly when people are struggling the way that they are.”
Minter says her economic plan, released in May, does include proposed funding sources.
Some of Scott’s proposals lacked substantive policy proposals altogether. One of the 12 parts of the plan is to bring “clean and affordable energy for families and businesses” in Vermont. Asked Thursday morning to name specifics on how he would make that happen, the candidate simply said, “No, I can’t.”
As Scott unveiled the plan Thursday morning, Minter was participating in a gubernatorial debate at the Tunbridge Fair. Even without political pundits weighing in, it’s safe to say she won the debate.
“I was debating, essentially, an empty chair. And the moderator, Mike Smith, asked questions of the empty chair and I was told to ask questions of the empty chair,” she said.
Scott declined to participate based on a set of parameters his campaign has set out for debates. One of the campaign’s requirements is that third-party candidates be allowed to debate. Since the WDEV debate was slated to be a one-on-one with Scott and Minter, Scott didn’t show up.
“So I guess I can say there were a lot of questions that went unanswered,” Minter said.
Scott, Minter and Liberty Union candidate Bill Lee are scheduled to participate in the VPR gubernatorial debate on Thursday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m.