School boards across Vermont are struggling with budgets while keeping in mind the rigid and arbitrary budget caps imposed upon them last year by the Legislature. In his state of the state address Thursday, Gov. Peter Shumlin asked the Legislature either to repeal or delay the effects of the caps.
In doing so, Shumlin sought to contain unhappiness with Act 46, the state’s school consolidation and finance law, to the issue of the spending caps. He said Act 46 was actually “working better than any of us had anticipated” and he called the spending caps a “teeny” part of the law that should not be allowed to damage the law as a whole.
It’s an open question how the law as a whole is working. In a few years, as small schools around the state are forced to close their doors because of budget constraints imposed by Montpelier, it may not seem to be working so well. But the spending caps are a clear and present danger to our schools and ought to be repealed immediately.
Republicans in the Legislature are missing a chance. House Minority Leader Don Turner is against repealing the caps, arguing that they are needed to restrain school spending. If anyone would have predicted a few years ago that Republican leaders would favor Montpelier’s interference in the writing of local school budgets, it would have seemed unlikely. But the politics of education have become exceedingly scrambled in recent years.
The arrogance of the Legislature is now on full display....
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