|BILL AS INTRODUCED||2007-2008|
Introduced by Representatives Hube of Londonderry, Branagan of Georgia, McDonald of Berlin, Adams of Hartland, Brennan of Colchester, Crawford of Burke, Devereux of Mount Holly, Donaghy of Poultney, Donahue of Northfield, Errecart of Shelburne, Flory of Pittsford, Komline of Dorset, Livingston of Manchester, Marcotte of Coventry, Myers of Essex, O'Donnell of Vernon, Scheuermann of Stowe, Valliere of Barre City, Wheeler of Derby, Winters of Williamstown and Wright of Burlington
Subject: Education finance
Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to share the cost statewide for certain education expenses that local districts cannot truly control, including special education and essential early education, by paying for these items out of the general fund; and to use the education fund to pay for remaining education costs.
Towns would receive a per-pupil general education support grant equal to 85 percent of the prior-year statewide average per-pupil education spending. If a town voted to spend more than this per pupil, it would levy a local homestead property tax to raise just that additional amount; otherwise, there would be no homestead education property tax. This would also eliminate the use of the common level of appraisal (CLA) for homeowner tax bills in all towns.
The nonresidential education property tax would remain the same as it is now, at a fiscal year 2008 rate of $1.36 (adjusted by the town’s CLA); and the education fund would continue to receive the other revenues earmarked for education. If a town voted to spend less than the general education support grant, it would receive a portion of that savings, to be used to reduce municipal property taxes.
The property tax adjustment system would be repealed, except that the rebate program, for owners and renters with household income under $47,000.00, would remain in law, with claims paid directly to the claimants from the general fund, as the program was prior to Act 60.
Further details of the proposal are as follows:
(1) Pay from the education fund to each district a per-pupil general education support grant equal to 85 percent of the prior-year statewide average per-pupil education spending. This per-pupil grant amount is estimated to equal $8,500.00 in 2008.
(A) The education fund would continue to receive revenues from all of the same sources as under current law, with the exception of homestead property tax (see explanation under item (2) below).
(B) Pupil counts would no longer be weighted or equalized, but would be actual pupil counts.
(2) Repeal the homestead education property tax system.
(A) If a town voted to spend more per pupil than the general education support grant amount, then the town would raise just that additional amount through a local homestead education property tax. Otherwise, there would be no homestead education property tax.
(B) If a town voted to spend less per pupil than the general education support grant amount, then the town would receive 20 percent of that savings from the education fund, to be used to reduce the municipal property tax rates on both homesteads and nonresidential property. Title 16 would be amended to allow this municipal property tax reduction for eligible towns.
(3) Maintain the statewide nonresidential education property tax.
(A) Use nonresidential property tax revenue to fund no more than 50 percent of the general education support grants.
(B) “Education spending” would still mean the amount of the district education budget, but the district’s budget would no longer include special education or essential early education, which would be paid at the state level from general fund dollars.
(C) Require recommendations for a statewide funding system for technical education.
(4) Repeal the property tax adjustment program, but maintain the rebate program, with rebates paid as income tax refunds. The rebate program would rarely be needed, since most towns would have little or no homestead education property tax.
(5) Repeal the per-parcel payments from the education fund to municipalities to aid with costs of reappraisal and maintenance of the education grand list.
(6) Require the department of education to assume responsibility for paying 100 percent of special education and essential early education costs with general fund dollars.
(7) Allow supervisory unions to combine and readjust boundaries without state board of education approval and allow districts to withdraw from a supervisory union without the approval of any person or entity other than the voters of the district.
AN ACT RELATING TO EDUCATION FINANCE REFORM
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
(TEXT OMITTED IN SHORT-FORM BILLS)
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street