Racine Opposes Level Funding of Education
01/28/02 12:00AM By Bob Kinzel
(Host) Lieutenant Governor Doug Racine says he opposes Governor Howard Dean's plan to level fund state aid to education next year.
VPR's Bob Kinzel reports.
(Kinzel) When Governor Howard Dean last week proposed no increase in the student block grant under Act 60, his decision was criticized by some lawmakers as an effort by the governor to shift the cost for education from the state to local communities.
Dean argued it was necessary to level fund education because many school budgets have been increasing by as much as 8 % a year for several years in a row.
The governor says the state cannot afford these spending levels at a time when revenues are $50 million less than projections.
Lieutenant Governor Doug Racine thinks the governor's plan will hurt many local school budgets across the state:
(Racine) "I think it is a bad idea to level fund the block grant¿. I think the state has a responsibility here and we ought to be looking at an increase in the block grant in the 3-4% range."
(Kinzel) Racine says the way to pay for this increase in education spending is to pass legislation that would block the passage of new federal tax cuts at the state level:
(Racine) "If we are able to neutralize those cuts and say it's not a tax increase for Vermonters, but we aren't going to have Congress and the president cut Vermont's taxes from Washington. We're going to make our own decisions. So if we are able to neutralize those [federal taxes] we can put the money into the block grant."
(Kinzel) The House Ways and Means committee is currently looking at this issue.
For Vermont Public Radio I'm Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.