On December 6, 2023

House Republicans issue statement on Dec. 1 tax letter

 

Dear Editor,

å children are our most precious resource. Yet, we must be mindful that their care and public education is not supported by limitless resources. Unfortunately, the Education Tax Rate Letter released today does not provide balance that Vermonters can afford. 

Last spring, school districts asked for an additional $127 million from the education fund for the current school year, an 8% increase. Next school year they have proposed to further increase spending by $205 million, a 12% increase. 

Even after $37 million of offsetting funds are applied the average Vermonter would experience an 18% increase in their education property tax bill next year. For a Vermonter paying property taxes on a modest $250,000 home that translates to a $600 increase. Even those that are income-sensitized would be hit hard. A senior living on a mix of Social Security and a modest retirement account that totals $50,000 annually would see their net taxes increased by nearly $200. Renters would indirectly be burdened as well with rent increases.

Vermont incomes are not even close to keeping up with the increases being proposed by school districts in this Tax Letter. Vermont’s economy also does not support these increases. In this Tax Letter broad based consumption taxes that reflect the underlying economy and wage growth are only increasing by 2.2%.

An economy growing at just over 2% does not support education spending increases of 12% with associated 18% property tax increases. No one is asking school districts to do more with less; we are simply asking them to limit their increases to a level that Vermonters can afford. 

School district education spending requests for next year have not been finalized or warned, and importantly they have not been approved by voters. School boards must consider the tax burden being placed on taxpayers and change course.

The impact of these possible tax increases are sobering, but when considered in the context of Vermont’s crisis of housing affordability and availability they are nothing short of catastrophic.

We implore school boards to listen to Vermont taxpayers and chart a more compassionate and sustainable path.

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