“There are only two English words that begin with ‘su‘ that have the ‘sh‘ sound,” a fellow commuter on the West Chester local told my grandfather a few decades ago. “Sumac and sugar.”

My grandfather, known as Grandpa to my cousins and Boppa to me, was amused. See, Boppa was a scientist as well as a Presbyterian elder. He knew his fellow commuter believed that vocabularic limit. He also knew the difference between fact and faith.

In what seems like a non sequitur, we might recall that the Miami-Dade school district plans to sue the state of Florida to recoup approximately $25 million in “lost revenue” because the state changed its funding formula to reflect the drop in income.

Meanwhile the structural issue in the Vermont budget is a $200 million shortfall this year and next. That seems small in the overall economy but it looms large in this state of 600,000 peeps. Governor Jim Douglas, R-Vermont, says the state will have to cut programs including $34 million from Human Services and charge higher premiums for people on state health care.

“Our message to the governor is this: Stop,” said Carlen Finn who spoke first for all the advocates for seniors, kids, the differently abled, and others who lashed out at the gov.


Fiscal desparation is why Gov. Douglas was in Washington today. He lobbied fellow Republicans to pass the stimulus bill and was the first governor invited to the White House by President Obama.

Vermont entitlement groups have offered a different solution to the problem of diminishing handouts: no lawsuits, just new taxes. They expect the state to raise the cigarette tax by a buck a pack and double the income taxes on the 2 percent of Vermonters who earn over half a million dollars annually. Oddly not one group thinks docking the salaries of non-profit executives by 5% is a good idea.

The entitlement group proposals would generate about $20 million. The rest, they say, should come from the federal stimulus package.

Wow. Maybe I can get that new laptop I need and the camera I really really need.

“There’s no question we should give as much money to the states as we can,” Congressman Charles Rangel, D-NY, said “But with so many of our infrastructure problems … we’re going to have to … remove the [governors’] discretion.”

One of my correspondents notes that, “on an economic scale of 1 to 50 Vermont prolly rates below Mississippi.” He doesn’t worry about the Vermont legislature mucking up an economic recovery. “I mean,” he says, “how much damage can they do?”

Hey. A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon we’re talking real money.

I hate to agree, even briefly, with anyone in the Barney Rubble gang in Congress but if Vermont is any indication, state legislatures can do a lot of damage.

Unfortunately, if the bank bailout is any indication, Congress can sink us all.

For the record, business is slow for us consultants this year and Anne’s hours have been cut as well. Our income is down a few grand compared to last year so WE HAVE TO SPEND LESS MONEY. That few grand seems small in the overall economy but it looms large in this family of two. See, faith in Congress notwithstanding, the simple fact is that I can’t buy the laptop or the camera if I don’t have enough cash for the cable bill.

“Somebody needs to explain to [Governor Douglas] that the word tax is not a four letter word,” said Christopher Curtis of Legal Aid.

“Are you sure?” Boppa asked the commuter all those years ago.

“We must have strong minds,
ready to accept facts as they are.”
–Harry S Truman
President Truman was a Democrat.