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To The Editor:
Representative Ancel, chair of the house education committee, says, "The voters have spoken on the issue of school funding, by electing a democrat controlled legislature and not voting down school budgets this year," so she says in effect, "What needs fixing?" What she doesn't understand is most taxpayers feel helpless to change anything in Vermont with their vote, relative to tax policies. While we will apparently save $9 million, which is a paltry sum, we will be spending close to $70 million if mandatory Pre-K goes through. Where is the reduction in spending?
We collect $160 million in property taxes to provide income sensitivity for 65 percent of Vermonters who qualify, when we could save this money by making income sensitivity unnecessary; by lowering the property tax rate for Vermonters to a reasonable level, like 30 cents. Unfortunately, businesses and second home owners would have to stay where they are for this plan to work.
Since 65 percent of Vermonters pay property tax based on income, why not have a progressive household income surcharge, starting at 2 percent and save $160 million right now.
I was asked recently by the Warren Select Board if I was against progressive taxation -- what we really have here is precipitous taxation. If your income swings around $90K by as little as one dollar, you pay approximately twice the amount of property taxes on your property, because you do not receive the income sensitivity adjustment. How are you rich by one dollar that costs you thousands?
A graduated (progressive) household income surcharge would involve more taxpayers and eliminate the need to income sensitize property taxes. Then this $160 million, which will never see a classroom or contribute to education quality, can be returned to taxpayers.
This legislature has no idea of how to get things done without raising taxes or using penalties. I would say this session has proven to be one of the least productive with regard to the mandate of the taxpayers, to reduce our tax burden.