Another opinion on the Montpelier election, this time an op-ed published in The Bridge and written by David Abbott, who has been one of the most eloquent voices in the city opposing the austerity agenda.
Reprinted with the author’s permission.
For some Montpelier opponents of the school budget that appears to be the great divide when citizens vote on the school budget on Town Meeting Day, March 4. In their thinking a vote for the school budget has less legitimacy if the voter, as most of us do, has an income sensitized school tax. They refer to these voters as having No Skin in the Game.
Are some citizens of modest means able to vote for the school budget only because they are shielded from the full cost of that vote by income sensitivity provided by the Property Adjustment Tax (PAT)? Probably so. But here’s another Skin in the Game question that I never hear discussed. Are there some citizens voting against the school budget because they don’t have kids in our public schools? Undoubtedly. We’ll call these folks voters with No Kin in the Game.
Which voter, the one who supports the school budget, irrespective of Skin in the Game, or the voter who votes against the budget because he or she has No Kin in the Game, makes the greater contribution to this city? Is a No Skin in the Game vote any less legitimate than a No Kin in the Game vote? Think hard about the answers to these questions because the answers will define us.
Of course this isn’t a game. Most families with kids take their children’s education very seriously, understanding that good public schools offer invaluable preparation for future success. Many other voters, those without children in our schools, understand this as well. Together, they have given us a caring and generous community that is supportive of our most important infrastructure- the schools that serve our children.
I am proud of our city’s reputation for good schools. I am also proud of our state for using income tax revenues in supporting school budgets via the Property Adjustment Tax. Public schools are too important to the nation’s future to be wholly dependent upon a regressive real estate tax that for many bears scant relationship to an ability to pay.
Every year on Town Meeting Day roughly two thirds of Montpelier voters support the school budget . Let’s dig a little deeper in supporting our kids this year.