6-18-15 – Legislators Are Laying the Groundwork for Even Higher Property Taxes

Posted by Rob Roper

H.361, the education bill that just became law, contained funding ($300,000) for a study to determine how much Vermonters really should be paying for an “adequate” education for our kids. In a recent article by VPR, Speaker of the House Shap Smith is quoted, “Many people these days are asking whether the per-pupil spending average that we have is too high or too low.” Too high? Really?

With Vermont leading the nation in terms of per pupil spending, and high property taxes the number one issue on people’s minds in the last election, I don’t know of too many people who think our spending levels are too low. Outside of the State House, that is.

There are two reasons why legislators commission a study of anything. 1) Because they don’t want to take action and the study is a way of delaying indefinitely a decision they don’t want to make. And 2), because they do want to take some action and need “data” to confirm and justify their already determined direction. This study is a little bit of both.

The majority in the legislature do not want to cut property taxes and, therefore, the cash flow of a very powerful, allied political interest group: the teachers’ union. But, they also don’t want to upset voters who are frustrated with an ever-increasing tax burden. This study makes it look like they’re “doing something” to fix the problem.

However, I will bet a very large sum that the “adequacy” number determined by this study will come in — by quiet direction — higher than the current state per-pupil average. Ie, we’re not spending enough! The chair of the House Education Committee, Rep. David Sharpe (D-Brisol), a former public school teacher, hinted at this in the VPR interview, saying, “If you look at what our traditional academies are spending, what it actually costs to educate a child at St. Johnsbury Academy or Burr & Burton, I think it is close to $20,000.”

A study producing such a number would justify, at least in the minds of the majority in the legislature, either doing nothing to reduce property taxes, or beyond that, justify the never ending increases we’ve been living with for decades.

– Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Jim Bulmer June 19, 2015 at 9:59 pm

It ain’t rocket science. As long as the NEA runs the show, the cost of education will continue to escalate. The leaders of the NEA could care less about quality education and ever rising costs. To them, it’s all about money for them, the hell with the kids.

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Stu Lindberg June 19, 2015 at 10:11 pm

H. 361 was cooked up by the Vermont Superintendents Association, The Vermont School Boards Association and the Vermont Agency of Education. The NEA from what I have been told, sat quietly on the sidelines. This has the progressive stamp of Shap, Shumlin and all the other liberal central planners holding office in Montpelier. There were a number of big government Republicans that voted for this bill.

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jim bulmer June 20, 2015 at 12:19 pm

The pity of spending $300,000 on a study is that at the end of the day Shap and his cronies will do whatever strikes their fancy reguardless of the results. Anorher $300,000 of tax payers hard earned money going up in smoke.

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Linda Quackenbush June 22, 2015 at 1:02 pm

These feasibility studies are a way to hide money & pad the hands of paid consultants! Grand Isle voted on a bond to construct a brand new Fire department and Community Center on donated land 2 years ago! The State came in and put a hold on project citing permit issues! Grand Isle residents were forced to hire a consultant who more or less agreed w/ the State! It ended up costing near $200K for the study that left residents in limbo!

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History June 20, 2015 at 2:22 pm

Want to scare the NEA? Say “Statewide Teacher’s Contract.”
The state controls everything in public education except local contract negotiations, where the powerful statewide NEA can make mincemeat out of local school boards. Anyone else see a problem with this???

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Linda Quackenbush June 22, 2015 at 1:20 pm

Education FUNDING is STATE CONTROLLED while SPENDING is LOCALLY CONTROLLED thru electable boards~It makes perfect sense to sense VT State wants to consolidate small school districts into one. It would take the local control away from small town America. We are seeing this at the Federal Level w/ Common Core. States were bribed and solicited by DC-K-Street crony lobbyists and Unions to take multinational Corporate monies that sponsored Common Core. By doing so States had to abide by Federal Standards of Public Ed therefore relinquishing local control~

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Linda Quackenbush June 22, 2015 at 1:23 pm

EA’a TIME STAMP is inaccurate! I wrote this article at 9:30 et on June 22, 2015

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