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Legislative Update: April 24, 2024

Education Funding and the Yield Bill

Many of you have reached out seeking clarity on this year's property tax situation, and until late last week, we lacked definitive answers. On December 1st, we received an annual tax letter from the Tax Commissioner, indicating a potential 18% increase in property taxes. However, as the Legislative session unfolded, it became apparent that the increase could be as high as 21%.

Recognizing the untenable nature of such a hike for Vermonters, the Legislature swiftly acted to pass H.850, which repealed significant portions of Act 127, originally passed in 2022. It has become abundantly clear to all stakeholders, including legislators, special interest groups, and every Vermonter, that our education funding system is in dire need of reform.

The annual "Yield Bill," typically a concise document setting the homestead tax rate, underwent significant changes this year. H.887, the current version of the Yield Bill, has gone through 10 drafts and now spans 35 pages. Unfortunately, it lacks long-term education funding reform and cost containment measures. Despite the Education Fund holding more money than the General Fund, which constitutes a majority of our state budget, the Super Majority has passed a bill offering no relief to taxpayers.

Several key factors from the Yield Bill are worth noting:

  • Homestead property tax increased by 14.97% over the last year.

  • Non-homestead property tax increased by 17.99%.

  • The introduction of new taxes, such as the 6% cloud tax on prewritten software accessed remotely, generating $20.4 million for the Ed Fund, and a 1.5% increase in short-term rental tax, generating $6.5 million for the Ed Fund.

  • Changes in the calculation of the Common Level of Appraisal, though not impacting property taxes directly, aim to equalize assessed property values.

  • Allocation of $200,000 from the Ed Fund for the New Commission on the Future of Public Education and $125,000 for a new Department of Education position focused on data analysis.

These developments underscore the transformation of the typically innocuous Yield Bill into a vehicle for new taxes, lacking essential long-term reform to address our Education Funding and Affordability Crisis.

The session's challenges extend beyond legislative content, with both veteran and new members experiencing similar difficulties. The House and Senate have faced tumultuous times, with many veteran legislators expressing dismay at the lack of collaboration between the chambers. 

Vermonters rightfully expect more from their representatives, and it is our unwavering commitment to listen to your concerns, respond to your queries, and advocate tirelessly on your behalf. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out at I’ve also heard from several of you who may be interested in testifying on specific issues, I would love to have you come under the Golden Dome!

Update on Paid Equity Legislation

I've been enthusiastically engaged in my efforts on H.704, a bill concerning the disclosure of compensation in job advertisements. This is the bill I presented on the floor, which passed almost unanimously, a few weeks ago.

Despite its presentation to the Senate Committee of Economic Development, it became evident that the bill faced unexpected opposition in the Senate, hindering progress to gender pay equity. 

Nevertheless, a committed group of Senators and Representatives have been working diligently, albeit separately, to find a way forward for this bill. Its aim is to address the persistent issue of pay disparity in our state. It's a stark reality that women still earn only 84 cents for every dollar earned by men nationwide, and in Vermont, that figure stands at 93 cents. Our mission remains clear: we must continue our efforts until women receive equal pay for equal work.

Housing Update

Yesterday, Commissioner Alex Farrell was on WVMT discussing H.687 and S.311. His candid update and push back on the Lieutenant Governor’s mischaracterization of the housing crisis is well worth a listen. 

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