A big opportunity to improve school funding

Posted by Jack Hoffman on February 24, 2022 at 3:35 pm | Comments Off on A big opportunity to improve school funding

The Legislature is actually looking at two big changes to education funding this session. There are misconceptions about each, but both, if done right, can strengthen the school funding system and make it fairer.

The change that has generated the most attention and discussion is a plan to provide more money to students who require additional resources, such as English-language learners, kids from poor families, and those attending small, rural schools. The money isn’t really the sticking point, although there are questions about the latest cost estimate for teaching English as a second language. The main point of disagreement is how to distribute additional resources to the districts that need them. One approach, student weighting, is more complicated for voters and tends to favor high-spending school districts. The other option, cost equity aid, would provide fixed payments per pupil for various categories of students, which would be more transparent and easier for voters to follow, and it wouldn’t exacerbate disparities in per-pupil spending among districts.

The other important change being considered doesn’t involve the distribution of education funds, but how those funds are generated.

Vermont Child Tax Credit: Good for kids, good for the economy

Posted by Julie Lowell on February 15, 2022 at 11:56 am | Comments Off on Vermont Child Tax Credit: Good for kids, good for the economy

Last week the Vermont House passed a child tax credit bill. If the legislation becomes law, it would go a long way toward helping over 34,000 families with children, especially the lowest income households, meet their basic needs.

The bill, which creates a $1,200 refundable credit beginning this year for kids six and under, is modeled on the expanded 2021 federal child tax credit, which was refundable and paid in monthly installments. A refundable credit ensures that families with no or low earnings get the full credit.

Brigham Decision: Shared responsibility for funding education

Posted by Jack Hoffman on February 11, 2022 at 8:59 am | * Comments (2)

Twenty-five years ago the Vermont Supreme Court declared the state’s education funding system to be unconstitutional. More than a third of the state’s residents are too young to remember what was happening back then. And more than half of Vermonters now over 25 moved here from somewhere else. It’s safe to say, for many Vermonters, the old Foundation Plan and the ruling that ended it are distant or non-existent memories.

A brief retrospective is in order.

Statement on Gov. Phil Scott’s Jan. 18, 2022 Budget Address

Posted by Jack Hoffman on January 18, 2022 at 4:11 pm | * Comments (3)

Gov. Phil Scott urged legislators Tuesday to make rebuilding Vermont’s labor force a top priority this session. The labor force was down by 24,000 since February 2020, the governor said before laying out a laundry list of investments—from both federal and state funds—to boost training, incentives, and job opportunities to attract more workers.

Vermont’s labor force had been declining before the pandemic, so the governor is right to focus on the problem early in his Budget Address. But the solution to the current labor shortage is not all about workers. The governor could have reminded employers that they have a role, too.

Task Force uncovered flaws with student-count weights

Posted by Jack Hoffman on December 22, 2021 at 11:41 am | * Comments (1)

The Legislative Task Force looking at changes to the state’s school funding system deserves Vermonters’ thanks for work it did over the last six months. The committee, officially known by the unwieldy name “Task Force on the Implementation of the Pupil Weighting Factors Report,” released its report and recommendations last Friday. Read more

Student enrollment is higher than it appears

Posted by Jack Hoffman on December 15, 2021 at 6:43 am | * Comments (1)

We’ve all heard the complaint: Why does Vermont education spending continue to rise when student enrollment has declined?

The answer can be found in the UVM student weighting study released in late 2019 and in the spotlight for the last 6 months. Read more

It’s time to weigh in on the state budget

Posted by Stephanie Yu on December 9, 2021 at 1:00 pm | Comments Off on It’s time to weigh in on the state budget

Every year the governor and his administration invite the public to comment on budget priorities as they develop next year’s spending plan. The governor kicks off the state budget process each year by putting together a budget proposal that he delivers to the Legislature in January. Read more

Public Assets is hiring

Posted by Paul Cillo on November 22, 2021 at 2:38 pm | Comments Off on Public Assets is hiring

Public Assets Institute is seeking a manager for the Fund Vermont’s Future (FVF) Campaign.

The FVF Campaign aims to change how state priorities and budgets are developed and funded by centering people at every stage of the process, shifting from a scarcity mindset, and budgeting transparently with meaningful public input. FVF is a coalition-based project of Public Assets Institute.

The Campaign Manager will oversee campaign development, implementation, and management and help with both field and legislative advocacy campaign plans, expanding the FVF coalition, building partnerships, educating policymakers and the public, and shaping the public debate. The Manager will provide administrative support to the Campaign Steering Committee.

$200 million to Vermont cities and towns

Posted by Julie Lowell on November 18, 2021 at 11:27 am | Comments Off on $200 million to Vermont cities and towns

Right now, Vermont municipalities have an opportunity to make investments that will move their communities forward with federal pandemic relief funds. You may be asking: How is my community using these funds? How can I participate in the process?

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocated over $200 million to Vermont cities, towns, and villages (see how much your town received here). This is nearly 40 percent of the amount collected in local taxes in 2020. The money can be spent broadly on costs incurred through 2024 to address COVID-19 impacts, giving local governments the chance to help residents rebuild and recover from the pandemic.

The expanded Child Tax Credit should be permanent

Posted by Julie Lowell on October 19, 2021 at 9:25 am | Comments Off on The expanded Child Tax Credit should be permanent

The pandemic has demanded quick responses from government over the past 18 months, from protecting public health to making sure Vermonters had food, shelter, and financial security during an unprecedented economic rollercoaster.

On the whole, our government has gotten a lot of things right: access to testing and treatment for COVID-19, a massive vaccine rollout in a matter of weeks, and financial support to Vermonters who needed it. Most of the funding came from the feds, but the Vermont Legislature and the governor deserve a lot of credit for their part in the pandemic response.

Now as more and more Vermonters are vaccinated and the economy has started to stabilize, we’re starting to see divides re-emerge.