On June 19, 2024

Lawmakers override veto of annual property tax legislation

The legislation funds Vermont’s schools, increasing the average property tax bill by 13.8%

By Ethan Weinstein/VTDigger

The Vermont Legislature overrode Gov. Phil Scott’s veto of the annual property tax legislation that funds the state’s public school districts, solidifying an average projected property tax increase of 13.8%.

The vote passed 103-42 in the House, and 22-7 in the Senate. 

Earlier this month, Scott vetoed the so-called “yield bill,” telling lawmakers that the state needs “property tax relief now.”

This year’s historic increase in property taxes is driven by about a $180 million rise in school spending. Health care costs, student mental health needs, ailing infrastructure and rising inflation have all contributed to the surge.

Last week, officials from Scott’s administration met with legislative leaders to discuss the executive branch’s proposal for an alternative yield bill. That menu of ideas involved injecting $124 million of tax relief, ranging from using revenue surplus, nixing universal school meals, and drawing on the entirety of the state’s $47 million education fund reserve.

Lawmakers derided Scott’s proposal, characterizing it as fiscally irresponsible. 

The legislation already includes about $70 million of one-time funds to offset this year’s tax increase and levies ongoing new taxes on remotely-accessed software and short term rentals, projected to raise about $27 million next year. 

The bill also uses about $20 million to offset the rise in taxes for property owners who pay based on income, a group Democratic leaders have suggested will struggle the most to pay the increase.

“Not a single member of the Legislature would choose to raise property taxes if it could be avoided,” Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Baruth, D-Chittenden Central, said in a statement. “But our local districts have sent us the bill that reflects all of the rising costs they face — and pretending that bill doesn’t exist, or putting it on the credit card, won’t help any of us.”

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