Vermont’s Ticking Time Bomb: The Economic and Fiscal Implications of Demographic Change

Did you know that Vermont is a ticking time bomb, ready to explode at any time? Well, the second part may not be true, but Art Woolf’s Feb. 8 lecture on the economic and fiscal implications of demo-graphic change in Vermont are convincing. Throughout the years Ver-mont has been a lone star in terms of population demo-graphics when compared to other states. Vermont’s small population can be attributed to factors such as low birth rate, low net-in migration and few international immigrants. Vermont is a state of highly educated individuals who have one or two kids that leave the state after high school, and in most cases, don’t come back, according to Woolf. Around about 1960, Ver-mont had an average growth rate that was concurrent with the rate of the United States, but since then the growth rate has been steadily dropping, and it is expected that in 30 years, Vermont’s population will only grow by 100,000 peo-ple, according to the lecture. This growth will be comprised of citizens over the age of 65 so that in 30 years, a quarter of Vermont’s population will be over 65. What does this mean for UVM students? Students of-ten forget about the rest of the state outside of the Burlington bubble, but they are greatly affected by it, and the rela-tionship is reciprocal. With a smaller pool of peo-ple to collect taxes from and more people in need of Social Security and Medicare, less money can be allotted for edu-cation. Also, majority of the voters in Vermont will be in this category of over 65 year-olds, and they will weild politi-cal power. According to Woolf, whatever programs they want and need they will almost cer-tainly receive, and it will leave little money for things such as education. Changes in government funding may not immediately seem relevant to Vermont col-lege students, but in reality the effects are direct. Currently, the state government only provides eight percent of the total budget for UVM, which ranks forty-ninth in the nation in terms of state funding to-wards public universities, ac-cording to the lecture. Lack of state financial sup-port is one of the main reasons out-of-staters pay so much money to attend UVM, and that price is only going to go up in the future.