Ancel says education cost containment law superior to budget cap plan

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(Host) The head of the House Education committee says the new education cost containment law passed by lawmakers this session is far superior to a budget cap plan proposed by Governor Jim Douglas.

Speaking last night on VPR’s Switchboard program, House Education chairwoman Janet Ancel noted that the new law affects only towns that spend above the statewide per pupil average.

Towns in this category will have to submit a supplemental budget to voters for spending increases that exceed the rate of inflation plus one percent.

Rep. Ancel says this approach is much better than the governor’s hard budget cap of 3 % that could be exceeded only if a super majority or 60% of voters supported the higher amount.

(Ancel) “I’ll be honest for me what it accomplished is it got the discussion of the caps off the table and that was an important thing for me I think that the proposal to cap spending was a dangerous one I think it would have a very negative effect on schools I have very strong issues with the super majority that was required I don’t feel that that’s the way we do voting in Vermont I don’t think it’s democratic to do that.”

(Host) The new law has some strong critics. Laura Soares is a long time school board member in Randolph:

(Soares) “Going to the voters with two budgets would complicate matters. First of all it demeans school boards and voters. It makes it look as though we haven’t been up to this point trying very hard or very thoughtful and that we needed some sort of mechanism such as this to make us so.”

(Host) The new law will apply to school budgets beginning in March of 2009.

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