For the past 12 years, I have vigorously advocated for education reform and property tax relief. Time after time, I have tried to educate my colleagues on the unfairness and unsustainability of the current system, and have pleaded for comprehensive reform. Yet, time and again, my pleas have been dismissed by the legislative leaders.

Interestingly, this past biennium started out quite differently.

In fact, for the first two months of the session, I commended the Vermont House leadership and the Ways and Means Committee for working earnestly on meaningful reform to our education funding system in order to create a sustainable system and provide long-term property tax relief to Vermonters.

Specifically, as they were developing their initial proposal, one of the stated goals was to connect more Vermonters, better, to their spending decisions - a goal I have had through my years in the House.

I was very sorry, therefore, that the bill that eventually emerged from the committee and passed the House was a shadow of its former self, in that it did little to nothing to either reconnect people to their votes and spending decisions, or bring property tax relief to Vermont families and businesses.  For that reason, I made a valiant attempt on the House floor to make substantive changes to the education funding system that would have done both of those.  While that amendment was defeated, I was pleased that it garnered the attention of House members and provided greater opportunity for those members to learn more about the flaws of our current system.

In the end, as the tax bill progressed through the end of the session, the meaningful education funding system reform for which I had hoped never materialized.

So, where do we go from here?

I believe strongly that having more Vermonters better connected to their education spending decisions is the only way we will be able ensure spending sustainability and long-term property tax relief.  I am also hopeful that the discussions we had this past year in the House will lead to more agreement and understanding that the system is broken and beyond repair.  More importantly, I am hopeful it leads to the realization that the only way we will achieve true sustainability in the program and long-term property tax relief is to create a system in which more Vermonters are connected, better, to their spending decisions; that as many Vermonters as possible have skin in the game - even the modest amounts I suggested in my amendment.

Rest assured I will continue my vigorous advocacy for just that in the 2018-2019 legislative biennium.