For the past 10 years, I have vigorously advocated for education reform and property tax relief. Time after time, I have tried to educate my colleagues on the unfairness and unsustainability of the current system, and have pleaded for comprehensive reform. Yet, time and again, my pleas were dismissed by Governor Shumlin and legislative leaders.
This Biennium was no exception.
In 2015, the Legislature moved forward on their plan for reform. Otherwise known as Act 46, the law is designed the intention to merge school districts throughout the state into one-size fits all, warehouse-like districts. The thought on the part of supporters was that this would curb the cost increases in education spending.
The problem is, of course, the only way we are going to curb the increases in spending is to reform the education finance system - and Act 46 did nothing to address that challenge. Instead Act 46 has simply wrested more and more control over the education of our children from the local communities - those who know best our children and their needs.
Even worse, those Vermonters in districts that don't have the opportunity, ability, or want to merge will be footing the bill for the merging districts. So, property taxes on Vermonters will continue to increase significantly.
On this issue too, rest assured I will continue my vigrous advocacy for real reform and property tax relief in the 2017-2018 Legislative Biennium.