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While Washington and the rest of the nation sort out the meaning of a Donald Trump presidency, new leaders in Montpelier have an opportunity to address the needs of low- and moderate-income Vermonters for whom a secure middle-class life seems unaffordable and out of reach. A higher minimum wage, access to high-quality child care, an expanded public education system including at least two years of college, and a program to help workers save for retirement can address the affordability problem for Vermonters struggling to make ends meet.

F1-MJB092 On average, 3.3 percent of Vermont’s labor force was officially unemployed in 2016. The average annual rate has dropped below this level only three times in the last 40 years: to 3.0 percent in 1988 and 1999 and 2.8 percent in 2000. Last month Vermont’s jobless rate fell to 3.0 percent.         In Chittenden, more workers Vermont has struggled to regain employment since the recession. In the last 10 years Chittenden County has added workers—more than 8,000, a rise of nearly 10 percent. But this increase was overwhelmed by losses in the rest of the state as a whole, where the number of people working fell by more than 18,000, or about 7 percent. Read more

It should be obvious by now: You can’t provide property tax relief by raising property taxes. In fact, it should have been obvious long before now.

Yet that is exactly what the Legislature included in Act 46, the school consolidation bill, in 2015. (It then repealed that provision in 2016.)

And that is exactly what the House Education Committee is proposing again this year. The committee voted on Friday to introduce a committee bill (H.509).

This latest attempt at property tax relief would increase taxes for about half of Vermont towns—the half that has the highest property taxes already—and lower taxes for the towns that have the lowest property taxes.

Seriously. I’m not making this up.

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Per-Pupil Education Spending and Tax Rates, Fiscal 2016

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