The Vermont Legislature has an opportunity to show respect to local voters and local school officials by getting two things done before the end of January:
Repeal the rigid spending limits that threaten to unnecessarily increase property taxes this year.
Set the education tax yields for fiscal 2017 so that voters will know the tax consequences of their school budgets on Town Meeting Day.
It’s imperative for the Legislature to act quickly on both of these because school boards—and voters—now are getting contradictory messages.
Act 46, the law passed late last spring, imposes tax penalties to try to force school districts to curb spending increases. In the meantime, the tax commissioner has recommended using a surplus in the Education Fund to cut property taxes this year, making it easier for school boards to increase their spending.
Sen. Ann Cummings, D-Washington, the chair of the Senate Education Committee, had it right when she told Vermont Public Radio earlier this week that the tax penalties imposed by Act 46 should be repealed.
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