Emily Long

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School spending thresholds up in the air

MONTPELIER — Senate lawmakers have taken one more step toward repealing school spending thresholds, while House lawmakers have taken a step backwards. For the past week, lawmakers on both sides of the General Assembly have explored parallel but differing approaches to dealing with spending thresholds and financial penalties associated with Act 46, the school district merger plan signed into law in May 2015. With a unanimous vote Tuesday, Senate lawmakers gave their preliminary approval to a bill to repeal the thresholds, which under Act 46, are in effect for fiscal years 2017 and 2018 and were intended as a means to provide immediate tax relief. “I think we have the opportunity to get the best of both worlds, where schools really scrutinized their budgets, and yet, we’re not going to penalize districts that don’t deserve to be penalized,” said Sen. David Zuckerman, P-Chittenden, who drafted the repeal bill in October. Meanwhile, a bill offered by the House Education Committee to retain the thresholds but raise them by 0.9 percent was recommitted to the committee, meaning it will take another affirmative vote among those committee members to return the bill to the floor. Continue Reading →

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House lawmakers vote to raise school spending thresholds

MONTPELIER — House lawmakers have taken a step to address school district spending thresholds, but Senate lawmakers are looking at repealing the thresholds altogether. On Tuesday, by a unanimous vote, the House Education Committee approved a bill to raise every individual school district’s spending threshold by 0.9 percent for fiscal year 2017. “We have heard quite a bit of testimony and have heard from a lot of people back home who want to protect the cost control that was put into effect last session while recognizing every district is unique,” said Rep. Tim Jerman, D-Essex Junction. “This is a good compromise.” (more…) Continue Reading →

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