August 17th, 2019

VOTE FOR VERMONT: Put the Children and the Taxpayers of the State First

Many of the Vote for Vermont shows have focused on high property taxes, quality education and Vermont’s stagnant economy. I recently wrote an op-ed as President of the Board of Directors of Campaign for Vermont and Co-producer/host of Vote for Vermont. The purpose of the Op-ed was to get the Legislature and the Administration to focus on fixing education funding once and for all. I hoped that the Legislature would set up a process to do so during their Special Session but so far nothing has happened. So, we may have to turn our attention to the Administration to do something. I’ve provided excerpts from the Op-ed below.

“Vermonters and their hard-earned dollars are exhausted from experiencing the rollercoaster ride that is their approach to economic policy. Despite plea after plea from voters to address affordability and avoid upward pressures on tax bills, Vermonters once again are looking at their voices falling on deaf ears. Years of talking with no action has led us to this all-too-familiar outcome and Vermonters are left holding the bag.

We spend $1.6 billion to educate 78,000 K-12 students (a number that is expected to decrease by 9,000 over the next five years). The trends show that Vermont is headed in the wrong direction (https://www.campaignforvermont.org/edtrends). The cost of healthcare continues to crush working families, and tax bill growth continues to exceed inflation and GDP growth. Vermonters are hurting and Montpelier is, seemingly, rudder-less to do anything. 

True solutions for property taxes have been the subject of political kick-the-can for longer than one can recall. Myriad proposals have been presented to the Legislature only to be dismissed. So, with the ever-increasing cry from Vermonters to address property taxes, Gov. Scott rolled out a late-in-the-game proposal in hopes of preventing an increase in this year’s statewide property tax rate. Reaction from some legislative leaders was negative, and then further fueled by the results of the Joint Fiscal Office’s analysis of the plan that pointed to a $100-160 million error in their projected savings. The Administration did realign the savings estimates with the accounting from the Joint Fiscal Office and now the question should be asked, does the basic premise of the Governor’s proposal make sense?”

If it does, then Legislators if they are in their Special Session at the time of this printing, need to put a process in place with individuals who can develop the Governor’s proposal through to its final conclusion or if proven not viable, develop another plan that provides a long-term solution. If the Special Session has concluded, then we need to ask our Governor to do the same. The talent to do this resides in our State. Find the right people with the requisite skills regardless of their politics who can fix education financing once and for all. It needs to be a resolution that has bi-partisan agreement which meets established criteria.” The time to do something is now! This issue has dragged on far too long and Vermonters are sick of the discussion. Let’s for once “put the children and taxpayers of the state first.”

Pat McDonald

President of the BOD of Campaign for Vermont

Co-host/producer of Vote for Vermont

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