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GOP candidate Milne details property tax plan - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

GOP candidate Milne details property tax plan

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Voters shot down school budgets all over Vermont this spring, as some communities saw double-digit property tax hikes.

Across Vermont, those who don't pay based on their income saw rates go up by an average of 5 percent.

"One of the biggest things I'm hearing around Vermont is we need a predictable funding system for our schools," said Scott Milne, the Republican gubernatorial candidate.

After weeks of alluding to his campaign of ideas, Milne provided more details Thursday about his call for a two-year cap on the state property tax. He says doing so would make tax burdens more predictable.

In a weekend debate, the Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont, said capping rates is not possible without capping local control.

"I'm not surprised that he became an expert on it before he understood it, but it clearly does not affect local decision making," Milne said.

Milne says the cost would shift to other taxes unless schools cut spending. The income tax is most likely-- a legislative proposal to move all school costs to that source stalled before lawmakers left Montpelier last May. Costs are not expected to drop next year. Milne says he would leave how to fill the gap his proposal would create up to legislators.

He is not sharing cost-cutting plans, at least not yet.

"We'll be talking about our strategies for lowering school costs clearly over the next few weeks," Milne said. "The most important thing to do if you want to be a good governor, Kyle, is to get elected. We've got a strategy to get elected."

Milne says that strategy is forcing the governor to talk about his time in office, not what he will do if he takes over.

Milne says that strategy received a boost Thursday, as new U.S. Census Bureau figures show declining incomes for Vermonters and more residents living below the poverty line than did last year. He says that contradicts the governor's claims of an improving economy.

Governor Shumlin's campaign manager did not respond to our interview request.

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