House gives final approval to Act 60 changes

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(Host) Legislation that makes some significant changes to Act 60 has won final approval in the House and will now be considered by the Senate. The final vote in the House was 107 to 32.

The proposal reduces property tax burdens by raising $70 million in new sales tax revenue. The plan increases the sales tax from 5% to 6%, and imposes the tax on beer and soda. The legislation creates a two-tiered property state system: one rate for residents that will be tied to a town’s spending on education, and a second fixed rate for businesses.

The House on Friday defeated a plan to raise part of the new $70 million by using the income tax. House Ways and Means Chair Dick Marron says the proposal will reduce property taxes in many towns by roughly 30%:

(Marron) “Mr. Speaker, I’ve spent most of the past six years working with others to find a replacement for our current education funding law. I am happy that we have finally gotten this far. Many of our earlier efforts were judged not to pass constitutional muster.”

(Host) Democratic leader Gaye Symington said she supported the bill because it meets the basic goals of her caucus: maintaining equity, reducing property tax burdens, controlling costs and simplifying Act 60:

(Symington) “Mr. Speaker, what really stands out to me about this is that it would continue Vermont’s commitment to providing equal education opportunity to all school children in Vermont no matter where they live.”

(Host) The measure now goes to the Senate for its consideration. Senate leaders say they support the basic outline of the bill, but they may want to make some changes to the plan.

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