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Q&A: State Auditor Doug Hoffer: ‘What are we getting for the money?’ - VTDigger
Doug Hoffer is the state auditor of accounts, the elected official whose job it is to make sure taxpayer money is being used efficiently and effectively. With a staff of 15, including Hoffer, the office audits the state’s financial statements for compliance with the rules, and issues reports on the outcome of state programs in all areas of government, looking for ways to reduce waste and fraud.

Hoffer grew up in Fairfield, Connecticut, and in Florida, and took a circuitous path to the professional world, working in several dozen jobs in the 1970’s before starting at Williams College at 30 and earning a bachelor’s degree in political science. He earned a law degree at the State University of New York in Buffalo and moved to Vermont in 1988 to work in Burlington’s Community and Economic Development Office under then-Mayor Bernie Sanders. Hoffer later worked as a self-employed policy analyst for 19 years before being elected state auditor in 2012.

Hoffer considers himself both a Democrat and a Progressive, although he notes that the work of the auditor’s office is non-partisan.

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Long before he became auditor, Hoffer was questioning the use of financial incentives for companies planning to move to Vermont or expand in Vermont. Offering such incentives became popular nationally in the Reagan years, and now an estimated 30 states do it in some form. Municipalities and other entities also try to attract and retain businesses with lures such as grants, tax rebates or infrastructure work.

In Vermont, the statewide version of this practice is called VEGI, the Vermont Employment Growth Incentive, which lists the incentive approvals in its annual reports but does not release information about how much money companies eventually received, citing Tax Commission privacy rules. According to Hoffer, VEGI steered $18.75 million from the Tax Department to private companies in the five years leading up to 2017. VEGI is administered by Vermont Economic Progress Council, an independent body that falls under the state Department of Commerce and Community Development.

Hoffer thinks VEGI grants are a waste of taxpayer money — money that could be spent on economic development measures with more proven effectiveness for economic development, like affordable housing. Last year, Hoffer’s office released an extensive report outlining research on state incentive programs. It said it is impossible to substantiate VEPC’s claims that the grants create jobs.

VEGI grants are intended for companies that wouldn’t have carried out an expansion in Vermont without the money. As Hoffer sees it, that’s impossible to prove.

The auditor’s office is focused now on issues like the Green Mountain Care Board and education funding; he doesn’t have any new audits or investigations planned involving VEGI or other incentives. But he hopes to renew interest in the coming year in his 2018 report, and as lawmakers prepare to convene for the 2020 session, Hoffer’s gearing up for another year of conversations about moving away from those subsidies.
Economics  Williams  Politics  inequality 
26 days ago by cnk
Robin Williams had 'serious money troubles' before his death - Telegraph
He said he was faced with the choice of a stand-up comedy tour, returning to television after 31 years, or taking roles in low-budget films for very low pay.
robin  williams  alimony  divorce  death  money 
november 2019 by dmg46664
Misreading the Minimum Wage—and Race: A New York Times op-ed illustrates the misconceptions that dominate such discussions. | City Journal
For instance, in 1948, when the minimum wage was virtually nonexistent due to inflation, the unemployment rate for blacks aged 16 to 17 was 9.4 percent––lower than for whites in the same age category, as economist Walter E. Williams demonstrates in Race & Economics. By contrast, there has not been a single year since 1954 in which the white unemployment rate for those aged 16 to 17 exceeded the black rate, though there were many such years before 1954, when minimum-wage laws were weaker or non-existent. Moreover, between 1971 and 1994, in an era with strong minimum-wage laws, the black unemployment rate for those aged 16 to 17 never fell below 30 percent, at times exceeding 50 percent. Nor can the usual explanatory factors––racial discrimination, underfunded schools, and so on––explain why it was often easier for young blacks to find a job than for young whites, in an era when racism was  worse, and school funding was paltry. In short, there is no reason to believe that raising the minimum wage in Birmingham––where the overall unemployment rate is already higher than in other cities like Montgomery––would help black youth.
minimum-wage  Blacks  williams  hughes  city-journal 
november 2019 by HispanicPundit
The Weekend Interview with Walter Williams: The State Against Blacks - WSJ
Even in the antebellum era, when slaves often weren't permitted to wed, most black children lived with a biological mother and father. During Reconstruction and up until the 1940s, 75% to 85% of black children lived in two-parent families. Today, more than 70% of black children are born to single women. "The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn't do, what Jim Crow couldn't do, what the harshest racism couldn't do," Mr. Williams says. "And that is to destroy the black family."
Blacks  Marriage  culture  welfare  williams  WSJ  riley 
november 2019 by HispanicPundit
Central Planners Cannot Know Enough | National Review
Even in their least ambitious forms (e.g., in Venezuela), those kinds of socialist undertakings have proved catastrophic. For all the gulags, purges, and massacres, the major socialist powers of the 20th century killed far more people through starvation than with bullets, sometimes intentionally (the Holodomor in Ukraine), sometimes through pure mismanagement, and sometimes a bit of both. For American conservatives, the conclusions are obvious when it comes to things such as K–12 education, which is one of the few truly socialized enterprises in the United States and, not coincidentally, one of the most defective.
Socialism  williams  NationalReview 
july 2019 by HispanicPundit

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