Editorial, Legislative Report

Representatives Work on Taxes, Senate Bills

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WORCESTER – The House Ways and Means and Education Committees are working on a number of bills dealing with property tax and education funding issues that have been front and center this session, as they have been in the Senate as well. These include the annual “Yield Bill,” the chief bill affecting school property taxes. There will likely be additional legislation to make short term adjustments going forward to limit the kinds of impacts we have seen this year. There will also likely be provisions setting up full scale reviews of how we fund education in Vermont, as well as the inequities in how we tax Vermonters generally.

I have previously noted that underlying what has happened to school property taxes is also the fact that costs have actually risen dramatically for school districts, as they have for businesses, local and state governments and individuals. It is my hope that one outcome will eventually be dealing with income inequality and taxation, which is growing nationwide, including in Vermont.

A few facts: If the average income of the bottom 99% of Vermonters had grown at the same rate as the top 1% between 1974 and 2020, it would be $100,000 more than it currently is. The highest-earning 1% of Vermonters now average 20 times more annual income than the remaining 99%. If we are to fulfill our obligation to provide high quality education to all Vermont children, we need to raise the needed funds more equitably.

All House Committees have now had bills that passed the Senate referred to them, as well as a few House bills that the Senate sent back to us with changes. We need to review these to see if we agree with them, or whether conference committees will need to work out differences. In our committee, a few Senate bills have received preliminary review and testimony, including proposals for some changes or additions.

S.205 deals with changes to statute governing the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Many of these are housekeeping and wording changes and others are adjustments such as changes to the timeline for review and implementation of the Clean Heat Standard passed previously. There are also amendments being considered for this bill, such as studying the possible development of a statewide program to help lower income ratepayers with their electric bills and other matters.

S. 213 deals with regulation of wetlands, river corridors, development and dam safety.

S.199 deals with changes to the governance of Vermont’s Communication Union Districts, including the possibility of mergers where that would have benefit.

Contact [email protected] or leave a message at the Sergeant at Arms office, (802) 828-2228. To track any bills, agendas and written testimony for all House and Senate committees, or to view all House and Senate sessions or committee hearings either live or recorded, visit legislature.vermont.gov/

Avram Patt represents the Lamoille-Washington District, Morristown, Elmore, Woodbury, Worcester and northern Stowe.

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