3-19-15 – After 200 years, School Spending Caps

Posted by John McClaughry

On March 17 the House Education Committee took a fatal step. On a vote of ten to one, it approved a measure that signaled the final death of local control as foreseen under Act 60.

The proposal is a three year cap to curb school spending until larger regional school systems can be established. It caps school district spending to either a 2 percent increase in school per-pupil spending rate on average, or a 2 percent increase in overall school spending. The legislation also contains a variable formula. Districts with lower than state average per pupil spending rates are rewarded under the formula and high spending districts face lower caps.

Since the beginning of time local school district voters have been allowed to approve budgets for their schools. Act 60 requires the state to pay out those budget amounts. Act 68 requires that residential property tax rates increase as spending increases over a state-set basic education amount.

The ink was scarcely dry on Act 60 when Gov. Dean offered the opinion that some way needed to be found to curb local school district spending. Gov. Douglas proposed, then abandoned, a spending cap idea. Now the legislature is taking the fatal plunge. Your school district can’t spend more than the state allows, even if you’re willing to raise the money yourself (disallowed by the Brigham decision).

This would be a historic step, toward finally ending local control over local school spending.

The unthinkable idea of the state distributing the money to parents to buy the education they want for their children, where public and independent schools compete for customers, is completely beyond the imagination of almost all legislators. If these caps are enacted, we’ll have a centrally controlled Big School System, like Hawaii. A true market oriented parental choice alternative will then have to wait until the One Big School System crashes down of its own weight – a generation from now.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ralph Colin March 20, 2015 at 10:17 pm

It may not take a generation to collapsed, John. I’d suggest that it might need just a five year period to accomplish the job.

Reply

john mendenhall March 21, 2015 at 2:25 am

10% increase in school budget last year and another 7.55% this year down here in Arlington. 18% of eligible voters determined that “it’s for the children”, while delinquencies have trippled and forclosures are steadily increasing faster than the sap runs in March.
It sure is “for the children”,the debt will encoumber not only the children but their children as well.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

About Us

The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.
Read more...

Latest News

VT Left Wing Media Bias Unmasks Itself

July 24, 2020 By Rob Roper Dave Gram was a long time reporter for the Associated Press, is currently the host of what’s billed on WDEV as a...

Using Guns for Self Defense – 3 Recent Examples

July 24, 2020 By John McClaughry  The Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal last week published eleven news stories about citizens using a firearm to stop a crime. Here are...

FERC ruling on solar subsidies could help Vermont ratepayers

July 21, 2020 By John McClaughry Last Thursday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission finalized its updates to the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), in what the majority...

The Moderate Left’s Stand for Free Speech

July 17, 2020 By David Flemming Harper’s Magazine, a long-running monthly magazine of literature, politics, culture, finance, and the arts, is hardly what you would call a ‘politically...

Trump’s Regulatory Bill of Rights

July 16, 2020 by John McClaughry “President Trump [last May] issued an executive order entitled  ‘Regulatory Relief to Support Economic Recovery.’ The executive order includes a regulatory bill...

Video