Lies, Damn Lies, and Property Tax Promises

May 24, 2019

by Rob Roper

One of the most anticipated bills of any legislative session is the “Yield Bill,” which sets the property tax rate to pay for public education. This year we learn, as our representatives scramble out the State House door for the year, the property tax rate will increase by a penny ($1.51 from $1.50 per $100 of assessed value for homesteads and $1.59 as opposed to $1.58 for non-residential properties). This is necessary to fund an additional $70.5 million in new spending this year, an increase of 4.5%. — for a system that continues to lose student population. K-12 enrollment dropped from 76,220 to 75,510 between the 2016-17 school year and the 2017-18 school year continuing a twenty-year trend that shows no signs of slowing.

Legislators did not record a roll call vote in either the House or Senate to chronicle who voted for this. (Pitch here for electronic, digitally recorded voting for every vote!)

This is the same legislature that failed to fix act 46, the forced school district merger law, which was passed in 2015 to – remember the promise? – lower the cost of delivering K-12 education and, therefore, property taxes. We spent $1,514,000,000 on public education in 2015 and the projection for 2019 is $1,681,000,000. (AOE Budget Book, 2019) So, I guess we can mark this down as a failure to deliver on so many levels.

So, what’s driving these cost increases? In large part a growing number of students identified as special needs. But wait a minute. When we passed publicly funded pre-k programs back in 2007 (Act 62) and made them mandatory in 2015 (Act 166), one of the big promises made was that “investing” in these programs would cause a reduction in the need for special needs students. Remember? For every dollar spent we would save $3, $7, or $16 depending upon which bogus study you chose to believe.

The number of pre-k students in Vermont is actually growing (from 6,999 in 2017/17 to 7,685 in 2017/18). This is, of course, a cost driver in and of itself. But it appears that this “investment” (increased costs) is actually driving up increased costs elsewhere in the system rather than reducing them. Another promise broken.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Al Machia May 25, 2019 at 2:07 pm

The failure to control costs as noted above only reinforces my desire to retire out if state. The plan is in motion. Perhaps state government should be as concerned about keeping current residents as they are about paying people to move here.


Thaddeus Cline May 26, 2019 at 6:35 pm

Gee I wonder who needs special needs ?
Could it possibly be those that make less ?
Why ? Could it be that the lower the income the less you practice birth control ?
Or understand that bringing kids into this world where no one is taking care of the Planet except unregulated companies? And the government supported by them by campaign funds.
No that couldn’t be it. Special needs among other things is caused by lack of nutrition and prior good education by their parents who are controlled to believe by the companies they work for . Look at trailer parks not only do the insurance companies rip off those residence the owners do as well so they screw the lower middle class as best they can . The more you make the less children you have that’s the facts . And any obituary in any newspaper throughout for Mon and any obituary in any newspaper throughout Vermont shows the poor you are the sooner you die . Meaning you live just long enough to help a corporation but die before they have to pay out pensions or even Social Security through the taxes they pay . Admittedly this act cause problems for both the left and the right but they tried you simply would not so don’t call the pot black till you make it that way . Ya you know any better then get Elected in the legislator and The school boards and the Townhall and selectmen or aldermen . Even superintendent of schools . go for it show you know better than the rest of us. I know what you will do cut it ax so bad no teacher will be able to afford to work . And even more woodchucks in the state will have to move simply because you don’t know how to take care of them .


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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.

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