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### Exploring Education Funding Reform: Vermont Legislators Delve into Options

MONTPELIER, Vermont – Vermont residents are persistently rejecting school budgets, following a significant number of rejections on Town Meeting Day. This trend highlights concerns over escalating school expenses leading to substantial property tax increases.

As additional school budget re-votes loom, state legislators are grappling with how to tackle the issue of education funding and the looming property tax dilemma. Approved budgets have seen a notable rise in expenditures, resulting in a considerable double-digit surge in property taxes.

In recent weeks, school districts have been frantically slashing expenses in a bid to win over voters. The most recent setback occurred in the Addison Northwest School District, where voters opposed the budget for the second time, with 745 votes against and 727 in favor.

The pivotal question remains whether legislators will alleviate property tax burdens by redirecting other tax revenues towards education. A crucial House committee is contemplating a $20 million boost in the cloud tax on business software. Despite this additional funding, the projected statewide property tax hike stands at around 16%.

Addressing the ongoing challenges, Vt. House Speaker Jill Krowinski of Burlington emphasized the need for collective effort and innovative solutions to address the situation effectively.

Various approaches are being considered, such as the proposal put forth by Rep Scott Beck of St. Johnsbury, focusing on aligning voters’ decisions on school budgets with the actual tax implications. Beck’s proposal aims to closely link a district’s spending choices with its tax rate, ensuring transparency and accountability in the process.

Governor Phil Scott has hinted at potential support for new taxes to mitigate property tax burdens, contingent on the enactment of comprehensive systemic reforms that rein in expenditures. Senate President Phil Baruth of Chittenden County also sees room for such reforms during this legislative session, suggesting the reintroduction of spending caps or excess penalties to address the issue effectively.

While these ideas are still in the preliminary stages, they are likely to encounter opposition from various stakeholders, including teachers, school boards, and voters.

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