Revisiting Vermont school budgets due to COVID fallout

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) COVID-19 is devastating state revenue and school budgets have been thrown for a loop. The Scott administration says it has options to ease some of the money burdens.

Speaking to the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday, Vt. Finance Commissioner Adam Greshin said looking at revenue alone is not the answer to budget concerns right now. He added the state should also look at spending changes.

Greshin proposed two broad options.

One, as commissioner, Greshin has the authority to set education payments to districts. That is done in many states but not Vermont.

The second he called a more democratic or more Vermont way: a revote on budgets later this year.

"We could ask districts to revote their budgets later in the summer, as the state is going to do with the general fund, once the dust settles and we have a better view on the revenue picture," Greshin said. "Then districts can lock in a full year budget late summer, early fall and the tax commissioner and district school boards and voters go to the polls with eyes wide open."

Greshin says the options are not ideal and won't be easy, as both would require statutory changes.

For example, in the town of Springfield's charter, the town budget can be revisited if it fails or if fewer than 15% of the voters vote.