Shumlin joins calls for Act 46 fix

Gov. Peter Shumlin called on lawmakers Tuesday to fix the spending mechanism in the new education law known as the Allowable Growth Percentage before school budgets go to the printer in mid-January.

“I want the legislature to act on this before school boards are submitting their budgets to voters…in time for the printer,” Gov. Shumlin told reporters.

He said his office has some ideas that would help dull the budgetary scythe put into place with passage of Act 46, but they aren’t ready to be shared with the public.

“I think there are ways to solve this problem,” Shumlin said before adding that there is consensus that the spending caps need tweaking. “We have a responsibility to make sure the school boards have predictability when they submit their budgets to voters.”

The Allowable Growth Percentage keeps statewide education spending at 2 percent by only allowing school districts budgets to grow between 0.0 and 5.0 percent in FY17. Varying from district to district, the rate ranges between 0 percent and 5.5 percent and is based on how much a school district spent per equalized student in the previous year. The more a district spent in the prior year, the lower the allowable growth rate for the next. If a district goes over the line, it triggers a double tax on additional spending.

School boards have been put in a very difficult position by this aspect of the law since many are committed to salary increases and a 7.9 percent rise in health care expenses for school personnel.

On November 18, the House Committee on Education met to hear testimony from various stakeholders about the spending cap. There are real concerns that the cap could cause taxes to go up and hurt the quality of education in some districts. Both the House and Senate will have to come up with a solution and vote upon it before the end of the second week in January to provide the relief the Governor has called for.

“More difficult challenges have been conquered in the past,” said Gov. Shumlin.

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Tiffany Danitz Pache

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  • Peter Chick

    In the future please don’t enact any bill that is not fully understood. The time, money, and headaches are completely unnecessary.

    • Neil Johnson

      Repeal ACT 46
      Our state did not ask for school mergers last election. We could have done that on our own. They asked for fiscally responsible actions. Instead we got Act 46 where the following will occur:
      They bribe us to merge schools.
      They will take away your local school.
      They will take away more local control.
      Our taxes won’t go down.
      We’ll have the same teachers and programs, just larger classes.
      The savings, if any will be spent on other projects.
      This is same scam was done with act 60, and that acts intent was to provide for small towns the resources needed and increase education quality. So now with Act 46 we are closing the school, can you see the irony? Montpelier is skewed by lobbyists; this did not happen when we had local control.

      Some of us are getting together to stop the nonsense.

  • Rob Roper

    “More difficult challenges have been conquered in the past,” said Gov. Shumlin.

    Yeah, like healthcare. Oh, wait…

  • Jamie Carter

    It’s disappointing that this the fix Shumlin is asking for. Act 46 needs to be fixed for sure…. like a clarification on school choice for merging schools for example.

    Instead, Shumlin wants to “fix” one of the cost containment measures. Predictable.

    This legislation was so poorly thoughtout, it really leaves a person baffled as to how it even made it out of committee.

    • Joe Perry

      This bill was designed to confuse the sheeple. Just like adding pre K adds students to help the student/teacher ratio.

  • Ralph Colin

    Confusing, you say?

    They didn’t learn anything from Acts 60/68.

    They didn’t learn anything from Vermont Health Connect or the single-payer proposal.

    So they did it again with Act 46 and now they are trying it with taking over (again) Medicare.

    These people just can’t get right no matter what they do. Isn’t it time for a change?

  • Kim Fried

    I’m confused, didn’t this Governor support and sign this bill? But of course it is someone else who made the mistakes? If you don’t understand the consequences of a bill how do you sign or vote for it? I’m confused, is there something wrong with this scenario? Is this Vermont politics?

  • J. Scott Cameron

    Governor Shumlin and the Vermont legislature are quickly losing the little credibility they had left. I love the Gov’s line: “We have a responsibility to make sure the school boards have predictability when they submit their budgets to voters.”

    How does flip flopping on last year’s “solution” to the spending problems create predictability for school boards or voters? To the contrary, actions such as these only reinforce the notion that school boards should simply ignore whatever new ideas come out of Montpelier each session. To make an analogy to the old saying about Vermont weather: If you don’t like the latest initiative to bring Vermont’s education spending under control just wait five minutes, it will change.”