By Guy Page
If you want to understand spending and taxation issues the Legislature will face when it convenes Jan. 9, bookmark the Vermont Joint Fiscal Office (JFO) website. Then check it often. Here’s what Headliners found today.
Tax Structure Commission members to meet Jan. 8
The Vermont Tax Structure Commission was created by the Vermont Legislature this year to review options and issues for tax reform with an emphasis on the educational finance system.
Commissioners to the three-person board are: Stephen Trenholm, appointed by the Governor; Deb Brighton, appointed by the Speaker of the House; and Bram Kleppner, appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate.
The Tax Structure Commission met Friday, Dec. 14 at the State House. The next meeting is scheduled for 4-6 pm Jan. 8 in the Ethan Allen Room of the Vermont State House, according to its webpage on the Joint Fiscal Office website. No minutes of the Dec. 14 meeting are as yet available. A quick Google search on the three commissioners reveals the following:
- Steven Trenholm is director of the Tax Group at Gallagher, Flynn & Co., a South Burlington accounting firm. He is also a graduate of Bentley University and a member of the Essex Junction Fire Dept., according to his Linked In site.
- Deb Brighton has been a “benefits cliff” and minimum wage policy analyst for the Joint Fiscal Office to the Vermont Legislature in 2017-18. A resident of Addison County and award recipient from the Vermont Land Trust, she is also the former advocacy director for Vermont Family Forests and co-author of a 2010 report warning on forest fragmentation.
- Kleppner, a Burlington area resident, is CEO of Danforth Pewter and is also Vermont Chair of the Population Media Center. As co-chair of the Medicaid and Health Exchange Advisory Board, has authored articles in support of single payer health insurance.
Scott administration says another year of frugal school spending will pay off
While the Tax Structure Commission ponders longterm solutions to education funding, Vermont’s tax commissioner Nov. 30 urged told legislative leaders to repeat in 2019 the frugal 1.7% education spending increase of 2018.
“If districts can collectively limit the statewide spending increase to that same 1.7% this year, it would allow for 2.5% per-pupil spending growth and still free up over $21 million” for tax reductions or major investments, Kaj Samson said in a letter to House Speaker Mitzi Johnson and Senate Pro Tem Tim Ashe posted on the JFO website.
Chittenden, Franklin rank 1-2 as youngest Vermont counties; Essex is oldest
Chittenden County residents are youngest in Vermont, with a median age of 36.4 years old, according to “The Aging of Vermont: How the Counties Differ,” a revealing Nov. 28 report by Joyce Manchester of the Vermont Joint Fiscal Office.
Franklin County is the second youngest, at 39.7. The oldest median age county is Essex, at 49.2. The median age for all Vermonter is 42.6 years old, almost five years older than the median age for all U.S. citizens. “Median age” means half of the residents are above that age, and the other half are below.
Why does this matter? “Some counties in Vermont have older populations than others, suggesting that their needs for services such as child care or senior programs might differ significantly,” Manchester notes.
Vermont is the second oldest state in the Northeastern U.S.. Only Maine (44.0) is older.
Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership; the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare; and Physicians, Families and Friends for a Better Vermont.