Local government

Despite school tax transparency concerns, Scott signs Town Meeting bill into law

By Guy Page

Despite his misgivings about Town Meeting ballots not disclosing per-pupil costs of school budgets, Gov. Scott has signed a bill extending for two years the current pandemic-era alternatives for Town Meeting.

On January 25, Governor Scott signed a H.42, “An act relating to temporary alternative procedures for annual municipal meetings and electronic meetings of public bodies.”

Town Meeting is traditionally held on the first Tuesday of March, although some school districts opt for a later meeting in anticipation of legislative spending decisions on education. The newly-signed law includes giving municipal boards the choice of forgoing the traditional, in-person Town Meeting in favor of meeting by Zoom or holding voting by Australian ballot. 

Scott’s reservations were less about Zoom and more about the lack of financial transparency with tax-burdened voters. 

“I’m signing this bill at the request of Vermont municipalities who value an extension to pandemic-era flexibilities,” Scott said. :However, I have concerns with the removal of the disclosure of per pupil costs from Vermonters when voting. Voters deserve this transparency, and I see no defensible reason why we should extend its omission from ballots.

Scott also thinks the Legislature should extend the universal mailed ballot to Town Meeting – something the bill doesn’t do. 

“Further, over the past several years, when signing elections legislation, I have continued to call on the Legislature to extend the automatic mailing of ballots to all Vermont elections – including municipal and primary elections. As I have said, we should all support increasing voter participation. Currently, universal mail-in voting only applies to general elections, which already has the highest voter turnout,” Scott said. 

Had Scott vetoed the bill, the Legislature likely could have overridden the veto on the strength of the 110+ votes of the Democratic/Progressive supermajority.

“I look forward to reading the Office of the Secretary of State’s report this month, as required by Act 60 of 2021, on how we can implement universal vote by mail for all elections this biennium, thus increasing accessibility and participation in the democratic process for all Vermont elections,” he added. To view a complete list of action on bills passed during the 2023 legislative session, click here.

Categories: Local government

5 replies »

  1. Taxation without representation. What happens when the whole Truth comes out about the “pandemic” and who benefitted financially or otherwise? Legislation founded upon fraud, deception, and withholding evidence will not stand. All of their actions and laws built upon a lie is null and void.

    • Public-school costs are easily calculated. It’s the annual school budget divided by students enrolled.

      The ‘actual’ number of students, from the ‘October Count’. Not the State’s convoluted and arbitrarily exaggerated ‘equalized student enrollment’ nonsense.

      And why use the entire school budget passed on town meeting day? Because it includes all education costs – not just the limited line items recognized in the State’s cost-per-student calculations. Consider these State-wide public school employment statistics, for example.

      FYI – according to the Agency of Education, for the 2019-20 school year, there were 23,962 teachers and paraprofessionals working in our public schools – serving fewer than 80,000 students. That’s less than a 4 to 1 student teacher ratio. But more importantly, when counting all public-school staff, from Superintendents to consultants to bus drivers, there were more than 75,500 employed in the public school system in FY 2019-20. Do the student ratio.

      Then consider that these are well-paid jobs with exceptional (and largely unfunded) retirement benefits… the cost of which will be added to future education budgets.

      And keep in mind, according to the U.S. Dept of Labor, 40% of Vermont’s workforce is employed by the heavily tax subsidized education, health, and government sectors – an insurmountable voting bloc. We don’t need more public-school employees. We need School Choice.

      • Read up on the infamous Milgram Experiment. It explains why the ‘little people’, like Rep. Troy Headrick of Burlington, have a propensity to impose their small minded hubris on others.

        C. S. Lewis was right. ‘It would, indeed, be better to live under robber barons than under these omnipotent moral busybodies…’.

      • If we want the government schools to become public schools again, we must distance ourselves from the state AOE which acts under the guise of the federal department of education. Currently we have an education industrial complex and no one seems to care whether the enrolled kids succeed or not. They can all fail as long as its equitable

  2. I am looking forward to the end of the current fraud by mail scheme. As far as extending that to town meeting day, current law requires that all school votes be co-mingled, and counted together for the district. I’m fine with seeing that particular PITA go away, but …

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