Miscellaneous Education Changes (H.461) - April 5, 2023

The Senate Education Committee met on Wednesday to review H.461, which makes a number of changes to education laws.

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Green Mountain Recreation Fund (H.131) - April 5, 2023

On Wednesday the House Agriculture & Forestry Committee was introduced to H.131 by Representative Sims. She explained the forest economy learning journey legislators attended last year where they visited some recreational sites to highlight some of the rural economics of Vermont.

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Financial Literacy

On Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee took up financial literacy in high school education, which has been a hot topic this year. Jess DeCarolis (Student Pathways Director, Agency of Education) shared that the Agency of Education (AOE) could not support requiring a specific class as a graduation requirement, calling it “highly disruptive” and “incredibly destabilizing to the public education system.” Her remarks were directed at H.228, to which she submitted written testimony. Chairman Campion jumped in to say that they had not “invited her here to talk about H.228,” but rather they were interested in “what is happening currently around financial literacy.”

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Vitale v. Vermont

The House and Senate Education Committees met jointly on Tuesday for a presentation from Legislative Counsel on the Vitale v. Vermont Supreme court case. Chairman Campion introduced the topic by noting that the decision came out in March and because the Senate Education Committee is likely to take up the independent schools’ bill soon, he thought it was prudent to get a briefing on this case.

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VEGI Changes (H.10) - April 4, 2023

Chairmen Marcotte shared on Tuesday in the House Ways & Means Committee that the impetus for the H.10 was that “others” saw what has been described as “mission creep” with some Vermont Employment Growth Incentive (VEGI) awards that did not fit within the statutory requirements. There was concern that they were moving away from the mission to increase employment. Testimony from Tom Kavet (the state economist) and the Joint Fiscal Office (JFO) indicated they were using VEGI as an “employment retention program” and that would be a policy shift that the Legislature did not authorize.

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EITC and Child Tax Credit Updates

On Tuesday, Chairwoman Kornheiser asked Legislative Counsel to walk the House Ways & Means Committee through the draft language making changes to the two tax credit programs.

Legislative Counsel explained that the draft language which would amend the EITC and Child Tax Credit has lots of moving parts; part-time and full-time residents would both eligible. The Child Tax Credit was described as a “refundable credit” against Vermont income tax liability. Taxpayers receive $1000 per qualifying child five years old or younger. The payments will change, under this bill, from a lump sum payment (at filing) to a quarterly payment system that the tax department will create. This is similar to how the tax credits for individual health insurance plans work today.

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Legislative Update: April 2, 2023

This week we saw three major initiatives clear key votes on the House and Senate floors. The major housing bill this session, S.100, cleared the Senate floor on Tuesday, as did the bill divesting state pension funds from fossil fuel investments (S.42). In the House, the bill (H.483) tightening admissions and other requirements on independent schools that publicly tuitioned students choose to attend passed on a voice vote after passionate speeches from both sides.

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Miscellaneous Education Changes (H.461) - March 31, 2023

On Friday afternoon, Representative Conlon (Chair, House Education Committee) provided the Senate Education Committee with an overview of their committee bill, H.461.

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Department of Economic Development - March 31, 2023

Joan Goldstein (Commissioner, Department of Economic Development) joined the Senate Economic Development Committee on Friday, along with Abbie Sherman (Executive Director, Vermont Economic Progress Council).

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Independent and Public Schools

On Friday, Emily Simmons (General Counsel, Agency of Education) gave the Senate Education Committee an overview of the statutory obligations surrounding public tuitioning for independent schools.

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