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Before it’s too late

From the Editor

Being a member of the fourth estate, even if a bit player, exposes one to bouts of extreme depression. There’s so much bad news out there these days that even an editor of a rural weekly has to admit it’s tough seeing the glass half full.

Now along comes another bummer to report: Vermont property owners are looking at a likely statewide tax hike.

One more government burden added to the backs of the working man and woman—added alongside rising fuel costs, inflation pressures, stagnant wages, depressed real estate values, increased food costs, etc., etc.

For those of us who had hoped for a modicum of compassion for homeowners from Montpelier, it was political business as usual for our legislative oligarchy—at least when it comes to the dreaded property tax. At this moment, property tax relief in Vermont looks about as likely as finding dry land at the North Pole.

Democrat and Progressive members of the Vermont House voted strongly for a 5-cent increase in the statewide property tax Feb. 20. Sure it was the first round of voting, but the eventual outcome has all the markings of a fait accompli, Montpelier style.

The final vote in the State House last week was 96-45, a “split” between the pro-property tax hike Democrats and the anti-tax hike Republicans.

Republicans stressed that the Democrats’ property tax increase proposal is coming at a time when public school enrollment in Vermont has declined in excess of 10 percent and middle class residents are feeling the pinch with stagnant wages and stagnant property values. Here’s my question: why do Republicans continue to appeal to reason and logic in Montpelier? It’s so, well, out of fashion these days when emotions intentionally govern the day.

After talking with a friend in Florida on the phone last week, I learned that Vermont stands in even starker contrast than the Sunshine State.

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