Illiterates Against School Taxes

Hey look: real live 21st Century Republicanism! State Representatives Heidi Scheuermann and Patti Komline have launched an online petition drive (at to overhaul Vermont’s school funding system. Now, that’s moving the VTGOP into the digital age!

The petition bears the unfortunate title “Support the Amendment to Repeal and Replace Act 60/68.” I say “unfortunate” because it echoes the spectacularly unsuccessful Republican call to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. But hey, I guess you can’t pretend to be small-P progressive if you call for repealing without replacing. From the petition’s text:

Many school districts work hard to keep their budgets constrained but unfortunately these efforts are NOT reflected in our huge property tax increases.  Act 60/68 has become too confusing and cumbersome.  A few stalwart legislators attempted to get an amendment passed last year to abolish Act 60/68 to no avail.  Now they need your help.  

“A few stalwart legislators.” Nice touch. At GMD, we like to think of ourselves as “a few stalwart bloggers.”  

I should take a snark break here to acknowledge that the school funding system does need some fixing. Indeed, in political terms, this issue could well be the biggest problem for Democrats in this year’s election. Yes, bigger than Vermont Health Connect — assuming the remaining bugs in VHC are fixed.  

As of 7:00 a.m. on March 4 (Happy Town Meeting Day, everybody!), the petition has garnered a whole 339 signatures. So they’ve still got some work to do.

People who sign the petition are offered the option of posting a comment, and here’s where the fun begins: some of the comments are rife with mistakes in basic grammar and spelling. And yes, I know that’s a common feature of online comments sections (GMD excluded), but really, on an education petition, I hope they’d be a little bit more careful.

Then again, this could be a cleverly-concealed argument for “repeal and replace”: if these signatories are products of our public school system, maybe it really does need an overhaul.

A Festival of English Class No-No’s, with names redacted to protect the former C-minus students, after the jump.  

Here we go!

Vermont is taxing the working class out of Vermont. We have one of the highest per pupil spending in the country.

As school populations decline, school budgets continue to escalate with no end in site.

Vermont is becoming none affordable to it working class residence.

being in Real Estate, I have witnessed many people who Have had enough of the high cost of taxes in the state of Vermont.

We need to return to a time when there is direct effect of what gets approved in one Town effects that Town’s budget.

This is another un afforadable plan in Vermont to redistribute wealth of hard working and achieving Vermonters.

The present system is unstainable.

people are losing their homes because of high yaxes

Act 60/68 id blatenly unfair!

The current system supports wasteful budgets and pushes the State toward the destruction of our finest educational instattutions

Clearly, the destruction of our finest educational instattutions is already well underway. Yaxes are too high. Time to change this unstainable system! Id blatenly unfair! No end is in site! Take action now, or Vermont will become none affordable!

13 thoughts on “Illiterates Against School Taxes

  1. As local school boards put the finishing touches on the budget proposals they’ll put before voters in March, Gov. Peter Shumlin continues to push for austerity from afar.

    After telling Vermonters in his budget address last week to closely scrutinize spending proposals on Town Meeting Day, Shumlin used his weekly press conference to reinforce the message.

    Asked by reporters how he can tell school boards to keep costs down when his own state budget proposal for next year exceeds the rate of inflation, Shumlin said that’s “easy.”

    Easy for who?

    Shumlin has been saying this since he’s been in office. Although the student-to-teacher ratio in VT is too low imho – 9.8-1, the school employee-to-student is 25%, this means 25 employees per 100 students which is really waaay too high. But it’s still not what I would call “easy”.

    Yes 60/68 need reform but that alone won’t cut it.

  2. I suggest that we raise school funding with a tax based on people’s Body Mass Index, or BMI. The greater the waistline vs the height, the higher the tax bill. The logic (and it is inescapable logic) behind this is that wealthy people can afford to eat more, so BMI serves as an indicator of ability to pay.

    Mmmmmright. Now, this is not completely insane if we project ourselves about 200 years into the past. Back then, in a time of intense manual labor and caloric deprivation for the masses, as opposed to food and leisure for the wealthy, BMI was a reasonable bellwether for prosperity. As was the value of a person’s real estate holdings.

    Two centuries ago, most people farmed. More land equaled more income, depending on the quality (and assessed value) of that land. If people didn’t farm they might own manufacturing businesses or retail businesses. Much of a person’s wealth was in real estate, most likely economically productive real estate. Most people had little in the way of abstract financial resources. Income was hard to track – no W-2 or 1099 forms – but real estate couldn’t be hidden.

    Today the value of real estate holdings has no necessary connection with a person’s ability to pay. In fact, with dairy farms and long held homes in trendy towns it is often inverse. Income is easy to track.

    Given that the situation is the inverse of what it was when people came up with property tax, why do we persist with it? Income adjust it all you want, it is still an anachronism and a regressive kludge.

    A debate over Act 60 or 68 is a pointless sideshow. Taxing real estate is the problem.

  3. That’s not a mistake. Our kids are better educated, because we pay for a high quality education. This is a good thing, which will prepare our children to compete in the global marketplace while students from other states continue to fall behind.

    This is what we NEED and WANT for our children. (Note: I say this as homeschooler who is happy to pay for a better education for all the state’s students, because a better educated workforce benefits us ALL).

    Here’s what I find highly amusing: the organization that’s pushing national legislation to cripple education funding is ALEC – the “American Legislative Exchange Council.” Their own report shows Vermont as having the highest student performance in the US. So, what grade to they give the public school system in the state with the highest performing students in the nation?

    A “D.”  Why? because our state refuses to destroy public education. We refuse to switch to an ed funding model that favors massive gains for the wealthy at the expense of everyone else. Ignore the fabulous performance of our students compared to all those states that have played along with the “let’s ruin public education” game. They want us to cut for the sake of cutting, and gut for the sake of gutting, because in their special world, anything that results from taxes is bad, so it has to be destroyed – even if the thing being destroyed is the best educational system in the country.

    On a side note: our student performance, on both national and international measures illustrates just how useless the NCLB-required mandatory standardized testing is: the NECAP shows most of our schools as “failing,” but yet we have the best performing students in the country, with one of the nation’s highest college attendance and success rates, and if we were our own country, our students would rank 7th in the world in student performance. In. The. World. We have to compete with people from all over the world for jobs, innovation, etc., so it’s VITALLY important to be near the top, not the bottom.

    The education “reformers” (better described as “education removers” or “education destroyers”) want us to ruin the nation’s best school system, and cast our children into the educational abyss, with states such as Oklahoma and South Carolina, in order to save some money, regardless of the impact on our kids’ ability to compete in the global marketplace. But, hey, when we can be as great a place for making a living as Missisippi, what’s not to like? Uneducated and poor, with no future – it’s a win-win-win!

    We do need to fix a big problem with education funding, by closing a loophole that lets wealthy luxury land-holders skimp out on their property tax. If you own a second home in the state, or have other non-conservation and non-farming large land holdings, you should be paying property tax on that property at the property tax rate, not at the much lower rate that your accountants can magically create by sheltering your monetary wealth from tax liability.

    I haven’t crunched the numbers, but I bet the vast majority of Vermonters would see their education tax rates drop noticeably if the massive loophole in Act 68 were closed, so those with extreme wealth were required to pay property tax on their luxury properties.

  4. I think it was the elementary school’s budget actually went down a little, yet the vote yesterday for our supervisory district went way up ($4.7M for five towns in the middle of nowhere).

    Who did the Conservatives blame? The local school board, of course!  Our Front Porch Forum and the Hardwick Gazette have been full the last two weeks of rants from Conservatives complaining about how the liberals on our school boards keep increasing the costs regardless of how it affects the Conservative’s bottom line.

    Like most Conservatives, truth means nothing.

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