A VTDigger poll conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute shows that 65 percent of voters want the Legislature to revamp the statewide property tax system. Forty-seven percent of voters support school district consolidation and 40 percent of registered voters in the survey did not cast ballots for school budgets on Town Meeting Day.
The poll asked three questions: Whether respondents voted to reject or approve their local school budgets; whether registered voters supported or opposed the idea of consolidating school districts; and whether registered voters believe the property tax system should be changed or stay the same.
Lawmakers are trying to find ways - in the waning days of the session - to improve educational quality and reduce costs over the long term.
In the poll, 47 percent of registered voters support a plan to consolidate districts. Support for consolidation increases with respondents' levels of education, and men are more likely than women to support consolidation. Regionally, Chittenden County is far more likely than other regions to support consolidation; in the northern counties, registered voters are evenly split.
Overall, 22 percent of the sample said they voted to reject their local school budget. While those who support consolidation were slightly more likely to have reported voting to reject their local school budget than were those who oppose consolidation - 27 percent contrasted with 19 percent - the difference is not statistically significant. However, those who believe that the statewide formula for property taxes needs to be revised (65 percent) were significantly more likely to reject their local school budget than were the 13 percent who believe that the current system of property tax is fine (30 percent compared to 12 percent).
Support for revising the property tax formula crosses party and regional lines as well as education, age and gender. Of those who do not own their home (13 percent of our sample), however, only 33 percent say that the formula needs to be revised, while 53 percent have no opinion on the matter.
This report is based on data from 682 interviews drawn from a random sample of registered voters in Vermont. Interviews were conducted by phone by from March 31 to April 7, 2014. For a sample of this size, the margin of error at the 95 percent confidence level is +/-4 percent.