House, Senate Divided on Act 60 Sharing Pool

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(Host) House and Senate leaders say they’re hopeful that they’ll be able to reach a compromise on an Act 60 reform bill but it’s clear that disagreements over the future of the sharing pool will be the major issue of dispute between the two chambers.

Both the House and the Senate support raising the statewide property tax rate to boost the student block grant of Act 60 to roughly $7,000 dollars but the House eliminates the sharing pool unless a community spends more than $10,500 per student.

Speaking last night on VPR’s Switchboard program, Senate President Pro Tempore Peter Shumlin says this provision undermines the basic principles of the Brigham decision:

(Shumlin) “If you want to go back to court, eliminate the sharing pool. If you want to provide an educational system like we had where all towns don’t care about funding an educational formula, get rid of the sharing pool. You can minimize the sharing pool by raising the block grant and some other things, but by eliminating it you’re living in a fantasy world in my view, where you’re not acknowledging the supreme court has weighed in and that the decision is a good one.”

(Host) House Ways and Means Chairman Dick Marron says it’s fair to eliminate the sharing pool because many property wealthy towns will share millions of dollars through a higher statewide property tax rate:

(Marron) “I think that there’s still a tremendous amount of sharing of resources that’s going on under this proposal 42 towns will be paying in $48.7 million into the education fund net from the statewide property tax.”

(Host) A House-Senate conference committee is expected to begin work on this issue next week.

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