Energy and Education Boil Over

Email blast sent to supporters September 29, 2016

 

Friends,

We are energized by the recent changes at Campaign for Vermont as we work to re-engage our supporters and rebuild Vermont’s middle-class.

CFV Mission Statement:

To advocate for public policy changes by reconnecting middle-class Vermonters to their government.”

Campaign for Vermont wants to see a more informed and active electorate – particularly in a year where there is so much dissatisfaction with national politics. To be honest, your vote matters more at the local level than it does anywhere else. This is where real changes to your daily life occur: what stores come or go in your town, recreational opportunities, local schools that educate your children, and what utilities provide. All of it affects your daily life.

This is why civic engagement is so important. To that end here is a brief update on recent developments related to education and energy: 

 

Education:

Two years ago this week CFV released a report on Educational Spending and Outcomes. The findings of the report indicated that the best predictor of how well a child will do in school is not the size of the school district or how much money is spent per pupil, but rather the income of the household.

At the time the Agency of Education (AOE) disagreed with the findings as they pursued an education reform agenda that forced school districts to consolidate;  a reform now known as Act 46. However, a recent report of their own now points to the same conclusion that CFV’s did two years ago.

Campaign for Vermont believes that education reform should have been more inclusive and allowed greater flexibility for school districts. As much of the country is looking to school choice as viable way to cut costs and increase outcomes, Vermont is doing just the opposite. Act 46, as it is written, will destroy school choice for many of our Vermont communities.

There’s an even bigger problem. Act 46 will not achieve its stated goals of lowering costs while providing more opportunities. If outcomes are not dependent on the size or spending level of a school district as indicated in both our report and the recent AOE report, then Act 46 will do little to address them. That leaves us with the economic incentives, which seek to raise statewide property taxes in the short-term to pay for incentives in hopes that long-term savings are realized. The reality is that these long-term savings are theoretical and will likely be swallowed up in investment costs from district mergers and staffing increases. End result? Our property taxes will continue to rise. 

 

Energy:

Last week, Tom Pelham – co-founder and former board member of Campaign for Vermont – wrote a fiery editorial criticizing Vermont’s energy plan.

Vermont is a small state, and that must be taken into account when discussing any policy initiative. Overall, Vermont’s environmental impact is quite small; only about 8.37 million tons of CO2 per year. Much smaller than states like Texas and Pennsylvania, and mostly concentrated in the transportation (56%) and residential heating (23%) sectors, not electricity generation as the state’s energy plan targets.

Vermont’s forests remove an estimated 8.23 million tons of CO2 per year from the atmosphere, which means Vermont is nearly net-zero in carbon pollution. This, coupled with the fact that the vast majority of Vermont’s electricity generation is renewable, means that we are not effectively reducing our own carbon footprint by introducing more industrial scale wind and solar projects. Instead, we are subsidizing neighboring states that are hesitant to build their own renewable projects by selling them the credits for our renewable energy.

Bottom line: We are selling our ridgelines and farmland to out-of-state developers to benefit out-of-state energy providers. Our current energy policy is not working; it is costing taxpayers millions of dollars and is not likely to reduce our carbon footprint. 

Stay tuned for next week’s email as we lay out how to address both of the issues outlined above.

 

Be Well, 

Benjamin Kinsley
Executive Director
Campaign for Vermont Prosperity

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