Commentary: State Board of Ed is Short-Sighted

This commentary originally appeared in the Brattleboro Reformer. You can click here to visit their page

Editor of the Reformer,

I have lived in Vermont since 1973. I have participated in the annual Vermont ritual of town meeting in two small rural towns in Windham County. I have always found our state government to be responsive and thoughtful and to always have the interests of its children uppermost. That is why I am stupefied at the actions of the Vermont Board of Education in regards to forcing school mergers via Act 46. 

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2018 Ethics Commission Annual Report Summary

On January 15th, the Vermont Ethics Commission published their 2018 Annual Report. If you’d like to read the whole document, you can do so at the link here. Otherwise, below is a breakdown of some notable content coming out of that report.

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Leadership Changes at CFV

Campaign for Vermont Announces Leadership Changes

McDonald and Lajeunesse elected Board, LaMontagne named Interim Executive Director

Montpelier, VT, March 23, 2018 - Campaign for Vermont, today announced the election of Pat McDonald, of Berlin, as President of the Board and Gabriel (Gabe) Lajeunesse, of Montpelier, as Vice President of the Board.  In addition, the board announced the appointment of Eric LaMontagne as interim executive director, replacing Benjamin Kinsley who stepped down to take a new position elsewhere in Vermont.

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February Legislative Update

It may sound cliche, but knowledge is indeed power. Here is an update on what your government is working on in the areas of workforce development, government transparency, and ethics.

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Gov Scott Thin on Specifics in Annual Budget Address

Governor Phil Scott presented his annual Budget Address for the second time on Tuesday, laying out his vision for spending $3.86 billion. His budget director referred to it as a “no-frills” event – we couldn’t agree more.  It was light on specifics particularly as it relates to cutting property taxes.

This year’s state budget increases spending by $82 million or 2.3% over last year. Three weeks ago, in his State of the State Address, Governor Scott promised no increases in taxes or fees, including property taxes. But in his Budget Address this week he failed to provide specifics on how he would avoid a property tax increase. Instead, he placed this responsibility on the Legislature.

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2018 Blog Series: Why Your Property Taxes are Going up

Last week was Governor Scott’s State of the State Address, which seemed to be well received be legislators and commentators on both sides of the isle. However, a few things jumped out at me, one of which was the Governor’s hold-the-line stance on statewide property taxes. Historically, this is difficult to promise. Despite having a statewide system, Vermont property taxes are quite complex in how they impact Vermonters’ actual tax bills.

We actually have three statewide tax rates: residential, income-sensitized, and non-residential. Both the residential and income-sensitized rates are applied to a local multiplier (which is determined by a district’s per pupil spending) while non-residential is a flat statewide rate. To make this even more tricky, the local multiplier that effects residential and income-sensitized rates is calculated using a statewide base that is set by the Legislature. Complicated, isn’t it?

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Ethics Commission Gets to Work

Email Blast Sent to Supporters on January 12, 2018. Subscribe!WCAX_Brian_Levin_Interview_Cropped.jpg

“It’s a first step. Vermont was one of the last states to enact a state ethics commission, so it’s an important first step to establish it and give it some essential functions.”

-Brian Leven, Executive Director, VT State Ethics Commission

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What does prosperity mean to you?

Email Blast Sent to Supporters on December 31, 2017. Subscribe!

Dear Friends,

What does prosperity mean to you?

For some it may be being able to go on a yearly vacation or purchasing the newest iPhone. For others it may be having enough left over to invest in college savings, or your retirement account. And for some it may mean not worrying that an unexpected car repair could use up what little savings they have, or that they won’t receive harassing calls from bill collectors at all hours of the day and night.

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What is $2,000 to your family?

Email Blast Sent to Supporters on December 29, 2017. Subscribe!

Friends --

What does $2000 mean for your family? Putting off an important dental procedure? Not being able to invest in your child’s college fund or send them to summer camp? Skipping vital home repairs? Not being able to travel to see family and friends? Perhaps it’s having to choose between being able to set the thermostat above 58 all winter, or eat nothing but rice and chicken until the snow thaws.

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How much more will it cost you to live in VT?

Email Blast Sent to Supporters on December 28, 2017. Subscribe!


Fellow Vermonters,

How much more will it cost you to live in our great state next year?  Let’s take a look at what happened in 2017.

August: Vermonters receive news that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont (BCBS-VT) insurance premiums will rise 9.2%, the largest increase ever. For a standard family silver level plan, this means an increase of nearly $113 per month, or $1,352 per year.

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