Like every state government, Vermont does some things well, and can stand to improve in some areas.
And then there’s the Green Mountain State’s chronic underfunding of its state college system - its most short-sighted and least defensible public policy.
Aside from the University of Vermont, the state has four state colleges: Castleton University; Northern Vermont University (formed by the mergers of Lyndon State and Johnson State colleges), Vermont Technical College, and Community College of Vermont.
Most states in the region, on average, provide about 30 percent of their state colleges’ budgets.
Vermont contributes an underwhelming 17 percent, meaning that the campuses must charge higher tuition to meet their program costs.
That decision has serious consequences, and not just for the young adults who face the choice between going into thousands of dollars of debt or not pursuing college or job training at all.
Only two out of every five Vermont high school graduates attend college - and that ratio drops to one in three among students from low-income families. Enrollment at the state colleges is down by 2,000 students from 2010 levels.
So is it any surprise Vermont has a critical shortage of trained workers ready to fill existing jobs?
You get what you pay for.
And if you invest next to nothing in growing the next generation of workers and citizens, that’s what you get back.