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Big property tax increases projected

Gov. Jim Douglas urged Vermont State Legislative leaders this week to make property tax reform a top priority next session. If left unaddressed, rates will skyrocket a staggering $0.22, an increase of more than 25 percent in the next three years.

Lawmakers learned this week that residential and non-residential property tax rates next year will increase $0.02, further adding to the burden of our struggling families and businesses.

The governor has pushed for comprehensive changes for the past several years but lawmakers have not acted to reform our education funding system.

"During this difficult economic time, we cannot allow property taxes to continue to increase on the people of Vermont. We must act quickly to reform our education spending system," said Douglas. "The time for studies and hearings is over. We must act during the next session to address this economic crisis."

In his statutorily required letter to lawmakers making the mandatory, formula driven, property tax rate change, Tax Commissioner Rich Westman echoed the governor's call for action, "Education funding is a fundamental state responsibility. Sustainability and equity are cornerstones of that system and when those fundamentals are in question, solutions and actions are expected. It will be necessary for all of us to engage the very difficult decisions before us with speed and determination, lest Vermonters be further burdened beyond the difficulties of the current recession"

A previous letter to lawmakers signed by Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca and Finance and Management Commissioner Jim Reardon outlines comprehensive and responsible proposals for bringing down education spending.

Douglas said he welcomes additional proposals from lawmakers and hopes that they can work together to address the issue.

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