The Vermont Economy

VPR Steve Zind
VPR's Steve Zind

VPR senior reporter Steve Zind focuses on the Vermont economy and its impact on our lives. Follow Steve Zind on Twitter, post comments on the stories, and let Steve know what local economy stories you think VPR should cover.

The familiar Lang McLaughry Real Estate signs are a thing of the past. 

The South Burlington residential and commercial real estate company, which was Vermont's largest, has merged with the smaller Four Seasons Sotheby’s International Realty based in New Hampshire.

The company has also acquired a real estate firm based in Manchester, Vermont Country Properties Sotheby’s International Realty.

The new company,  called Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty, has 23 offices and more than 220 sales agents in two states.

The Department of Public Service says FairPoint Communications continues to make significant progress in resolving the backlog of telephone repairs. 

The repair delays, which have been a problem since last summer, have landed the company in hot water with regulators.

The department says the number of outstanding repairs has dropped by 50 percent from a week ago.

Based on numbers provided to legislators, that means there are now about 400 Vermont customers waiting for phone service and repairs.

Angela Evancie / VPR

There has been talk for months that the state budget has a projected shortfall of around $100 million. To close the budget gap, lawmakers and officials will look at ways to increase revenue through taxes and fees, as well as cut back spending and state services.

But what is our total state budget and how does a $100 million gap happen? VPR’s Statehouse Reporter Peter Hirschfeld, who looks at these numbers on a daily basis, explains the basics of the state budget.

Building Bright Futures

There was some potential good news for parents of young children in President Barack Obama's State of the Union address last week. The president focused on the importance of early education, and backed it up with a proposal to increase a child care tax credit up to $3,000.

In the first statement since negotiations began under their auspices, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service has acknowledged that talks between representatives of FairPoint Communications and two striking unions are continuing and that “progress is being made”.

A statement issued Friday evening by FMCS Acting Director Allison Beck on behalf of the negotiating parties offers little additional information.  

Wilson Ring / AP/file

An energy proposal from the Shumlin administration could become one of the biggest pocketbook issues of the 2015 legislative session as lawmakers look for a renewable energy policy that will stave off a significant rate increase.

Steve Zind / VPR

It’s clear lawmakers have been hearing from constituents about the wide disparity in gas prices in Vermont – especially higher prices in the Burlington area – and the fact the average price of a gallon gas statewide is currently about 40 cents above the national mark. 

Why and what can be done about it wasn’t so clear, as lawmakers heard from a testimony during a public hearing at the State House on Thursday.

Charlotte Albright / VPR

By the end of the school year, Vermont must come up with a plan to make sure that students in the poorest parts of the state are getting as much access to experienced, talented teachers as those in wealthier towns. The federal government is requiring states to try to close that so-called equity gap. But federal data that has been published about those discrepancies has some rather glaring errors.

Angela Evancie / VPR

House Republican leaders are rejecting Gov. Peter Shumlin's plan to impose a payroll tax to finance a package of health care initiatives. Instead, they're developing an alternative proposal.

Darn Tough Socks

Vermont manufacturer Darn Tough Socks is planning a 100,000-square-foot expansion at its mill in Northfield. The addition, to be completed in 18 months, is nearly twice as large as the company’s present facility.

Darn Tough President and CEO Ric Cabot says the company has experienced consecutive years of revenue growth of between 60 and 70 percent annually. Sales revenue in 2013 grew 63 percent over the previous year.

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