Education

Education Issues

Shumlin hit on funding source for child care

January 16, 2013; Dave Gram; Brattleboro Reformer

"The earned income tax credit is one of our most effective anti-poverty programs," said Sen. Anthony Pollina of Washington County. "Diverting money from this important benefit is a tax increase on over 40,000 Vermonters who are least able to afford it: lower income people, working families and others struggling to make ends meet."

Rep. Chris Pearson, a Burlington Progressive, said he wants the state to have a discussion about possible new taxes, including a tax on the extraction of natural resources, which Vermont does not have.

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Progs slam Shumlin over plan to fund childcare by cutting benefits to poor

January 15, 2013; Peter Hirschfeld; Vermont Press Bureau

A group of Progressive lawmakers this afternoon took an aggressive stance against Peter Shumlin’s first high-profile proposal of 2013, saying his “half-baked” plan to fund new childcare subsidies would “pit working families against one another.”

Shumlin won plaudits last week for proposing that Vermont spend an additional $17 million on childcare subsidies for low-income parents. But his plan to fund it – reducing an “earned income tax credit” that now delivers refund checks to more than 40,000 low-income tax filers – has drawn a scathing rebuke.

At a press conference in the Cedar Creek room, Rep. Chris Pearson, a Burlington Progressive, said it can’t be considered a “serious proposal.”

"I have yet to hear from any Democrat who supports this idea. Republicans have articulated their concerns, and Progressives are solidly opposed to this funding scheme,” Pearson said.

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Opposition Develops To Shumlin's Plan For Funding Child Care

January 15, 2013; Bob Kinzel; VPR News

There's growing opposition at the Statehouse over Governor Peter Shumlin's plan to take $17 million from the state's Earned Income Tax Credit program to finance an increase in child care subsidies.

About 45,000 low income working Vermonters take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit. It's a federal and state program that's designed to help working families with some of their basic living needs.

The maximum state credit is roughly $1,200 and the program allows families to get a refund if the credit is larger than their tax liability. The state spends roughly $25 million on the program by supplementing the federal credit.

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Progs Question Gov's Funding Vision for Education

January 15, 2013; Sue Prent; Green Mountain Daily

Emphasis on educational priorities in Governor Shumlin's inaugural address was met with restrained enthusiasm by Progressive legislators, who spoke out today in a press release.

Like many of us, they recognize that the devil is in the details, and as desirable as pre-K and higher educational opportunities are for Vermonters, how those initiatives are funded is critically important.

Already known for his reluctance to raise tax contributions by the wealthy, the Governor's address suggested only one potential funding opportunity, the Earned Income Tax Credit.

The legislators are concerned that the Governor's vision for redirecting support from the EITC will mean that new educational opportunities will be built on the backs of those least able to afford it.

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The First Week

Legislative climate caucus starts with a bang

Last session, I co-founded the Climate Caucus with Rep. Margaret Cheney (D-Norwich).  Our goal is to elevate climate change as a priority and to try and come up with workable solutions.  In his opening remarks last week, House Speaker Shap Smith mentioned our imperative to address climate change.  Perhaps we are already having an impact!

During the first week of the Legislature, we held our kick-off Climate Caucus meeting and over 40 lawmakers participated.  It was the best attended meeting in our history!  People were eager to come up with a package of bills to push this year.  Ideas included a no-idling bill, divesting state funds from fossil fuels, more park and rides, and more.

In the coming weeks, the climate agenda will take shape and we'll get a better sense of what Democratic leaders are willing to consider.

Wrong funding source for great priorities

As you may have heard, Gov. Peter Shumlin has vowed to make education a focus of the year.  He promised to make Pre-K universal and Higher-Ed more affordable.  Unfortunately, the only specific funding scheme the governor mentioned involved reducing the Earned Income Tax Credit.  This is the most effective anti-poverty program we've got!  Across the board, legislators are un-enthusiastic about tapping this as a source of funds.

More affordable Higher-Ed and Pre-K are great priorities, but we must not increase the tax burden for poor and working class families in order to make them a reality.

Good news and bad news for Vt. poor

January 13, 2013; Peter Hirschfeld; Times Argus

“I’m not sure it has to be a choice between improving access to childcare and taking money from families that can just about least afford it,” Pearson says.

Pearson is already working with lawmakers on a counterproposal that would keep the $17 million appropriation — double what Vermont spends on childcare subsidies now — but raise new revenues to pay for it.

The package will likely include tax hikes for wealthy Vermonters, and possibly the elimination of certain tax exemptions that tend to benefit richer residents.

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