Our State Representative and Ways and Means Committee member Jim Masland of Thetford Center wrote a Commentary that appeared on the VTDigger website yesterday. Here are two snippets from the article critical of the Governor Scott's proposal for the State Education Fund:
Gov. Phil Scott vetoed the budget twice, but it’s not the budget he objects to. In fact there is nothing in the original spending plan he doesn’t like. Instead his intention is to dramatically reduce school spending and decrease the number of teachers statewide. Some of his tactics are straightforward while others are decidedly underhanded.
The governor is betting that Vermont property values will continue to rise, resulting in a larger tax base and more revenue. But if his bet doesn’t play out, the ed fund could shrink. Without sufficient money in the bank, local school districts and local voters will have to make up the difference, either out of their own pockets or by slashing school budgets. And that may well be the governor’s intention.
Hate to sound like a broken record but ever since Governor Shumlin and the Democratic super majority in the legislature open the Education Fund to a host of other programs besides K-12 education approved by the school boards, the legislature has had a direct hand in raising property taxes. It is disappointing the Rep. Masland chooses to hides this fact even though the Ways and Means Committee on which he serves took some positive action this year to remove some of these programs. Unfortunately there is still over 20 million of these costs (including the recently added annual teachers pension fund contribution) in the Ed Fund. Also Ways and Means never allocated funding for Act 46 incentives leaving them to be paid by the property taxes they were suppose to reduce. If all the legislative mandated costs in the Ed Fund were put back in the General Fund and revenue and spending balanced, there would be no need for a property tax increase and no ongoing hole in the Ed. Fund.