Vermont already has one of the highest tax burdens in the nation, yet that burden appears set to get worse this year if we cannot get a handle on our spending addiction. As pointed out by Anne Galloway in her latest Vermont Digger article, our statewide property tax is going up this year by as much as five cents due to a failure to reign in spending on schools:
The statewide property tax will increase three cents to five cents this year, according to the Shumlin administration.
Unless schools make an effort to cut spending or the state makes a change in the base education rate formula, the statewide property tax rate will go up five cents for every $100 worth of property value. The current rate for commercial property is $1.38 and the rate for homestead property is 89 cents. Rates can be higher in local jurisdictions, which are based on local spending levels.
Vermont has the fifth highest per pupil spending on public schools in the nation according to a August 2012 Huffington Post article: “D.C. public schools spent the most per pupil of any state in 2010, $18,667. The District of Columbia was followed by New York ($18,618), New Jersey ($16,841), Alaska ($15,783), Vermont ($15,274) and Wyoming ($15,169). This group is largely consistent with a July 2011 analysis by 24/7 Wall Street that ranked states by how much they spend on education.”
Despite Vermont’s higher than average spending, it really does not deliver very good results when demographic factors are considered in gaging educational achievement. This is a matter that Vermont economist Art Woolf has written on frequently. One would think that we could easily find a way to cut some of this spending to avoid even higher taxes, yet that is not likely to happen any time soon in this state given our political climate.
If we cannot keep our tax burden under control now, what is going to happen when really big spending programs like Green Mountain Care kick in?