The Education Fund, for the most part, has stayed out of the headlines this year, perhaps because Gov. Phil Scott hasn’t offered the kind of end-of-session surprises we saw in his first two years. But we should be paying close attention even if the Education Fund isn’t in the spotlight. Important decisions are at hand that affect the stability of the fund.

The Education Fund budget approved by the House earlier this year relied on reserves and other one-time sources of revenue to artificially hold down property tax rates. In the House version, Education Fund spending was projected to increase by about $70 million, and nearly half of that additional money would have come from sources the Legislature couldn’t count on in subsequent years. It was another case of confronting today’s problem by pushing it off into next year.

Vermont has gone from a record high of 25,059 people unemployed in May 2009 to a record low of 7,565 unemployed last month. But fewer jobless has not meant more employed. The number of Vermonters at work increased by just 2,782 in the same period, meaning that the labor force—the total of everyone working or actively looking for work—shrank by more than 14,000.

A family and medical leave program should make juggling work and caregiving easier for families.

The House bill (H.107) passed in early April would do that through wage-replacement and job protection for employees who are out of work due to a new baby, or for unexpected personal or family medical needs. But the Senate version cuts back these benefits to workers and their families. Focused on decreasing the program cost, the Senate plan undermines the bill’s intent: supporting families.



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Larry Mandell remembered