STATEMENT FROM GOVERNOR PHIL SCOTT IN ADVANCE OF EMERGENCY BOARD MEETING ON ANTICIPATED BUDGET SURPLUS
Montpelier, Vt. – The state’s fiscal Emergency Board (also known as the E-Board) is chaired by the Governor, and includes the Chairs of Senate and House Appropriations, Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees. The E-Board is scheduled to meet Monday to assess anticipated revenues for the end of Fiscal Year 2018 in June. Governor Phil Scott today issued the following statement in advance of the meeting:
“I’m pleased the E-Board will meet this afternoon in order to come to consensus on expected revenue for the remaining two months of the fiscal year, after hearing from both the administration and legislative economists.
“It appears there is agreement there will be a one-time surplus of at least $20 million (and likely higher) to end this fiscal year. Anticipating this surplus, I included it in my five-year education plan, intended to prevent a $58 million property tax increase, keep tax rates level for five years, reverse chronic deficits in the Education Fund and use savings from proposed policy changes to invest in more educational opportunities for our children. The Senate also accounted for this surplus in the budget they passed last week. I also anticipate there may be a discussion about the possibility of additional surpluses.
“Coming out of this meeting, it is my hope we can agree on the source and amount of funds available in order to move forward on an agreement on my five-year plan to keep education taxes level and reinvest efficiency savings in our children. What I cannot support is using this one-time surplus without addressing our recurring structural problems or failing to return the surplus to taxpayers through tax relief.
“With a student enrollment that’s declined by nearly 30,000 in twenty years and is expected to decline by another 7,000 in the next eight years, our outdated and outsized system diverts tax dollars away from students and is resulting in unsustainable increases in tax rates. My plan is an opportunity to address both issues in a thoughtful way.
“The timing of school budget development in the fall and the legislative session in the spring has made it difficult to implement policies to help schools address these inefficiencies, which is why we face this challenge year after year. That’s why my proposal not only prevents a $58 million education tax increase this year, but also provides tools that will help school boards, schools and communities address a recurring structural problem and increase our capacity to invest in educational opportunities without raising property tax rates over a predictable five-year period.”