Vermont lawmakers said yes to increasing the statewide property tax. It's a major component in school funding. The state collects the funds from towns and distributes it on a per-pupil basis to districts around the state. Local voters decide how much additional money they want to spend on schools when they vote on their school budgets on Town Meeting Day.
Wednesday, the Vermont House approved a 5-cent hike for homeowners and 6 cents for commercial property owners. They blame rising costs, fewer students and dropping property values.
"I think even people who voted for it-- it was difficult. When we raise property taxes by a nickel, that's a very difficult thing to do and I don't think anybody was real pleased about doing this," said Rep. Dave Sharpe, D-Bristol.
The House is set to give final approval to the bill Thursday. It then goes to the Senate.
Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont, said last week he does not view the increase as a tax hike, because total school spending is set by decisions at the local level. Wednesday, Shumlin urged local school boards to hold the line on spending increases.