Messaging 101: Don’t make mistakes in press releases about education

So this happened. Governor Shumlin’s office issued a press release on Monday about education funding — specifically its projection of a two-cent increase in the state property tax for the coming year.

And there was an oopsie. First to spot it was Dave Gram of the Associated Press (and now, apparently, chief Statehouse correspondent for the Burlington Free Press):

And here is the error in context:

“The bottom line is that education spending in Vermont is supported by a wide variety of state revenue sources, not just the property tax,” Gov. Shumlin said. “That’s why I do not think simply shifting more education spending to other sources will address the burden Vermonters feel. We need to tackle this first as a spending challenge because education costs have continued to rise faster than Vermonter’s ability to pay for it, even though our student count has declined.”

It’s bad enough when a gubernatorial missive goes out with a big fat juicy typo. It’s even worse when the subject of said missive is education. Does newly-minted communications chief Scott Coriell need a little proofreading help?

1 thought on “Messaging 101: Don’t make mistakes in press releases about education

  1. Cynthia Browning

    I have not read the press release but it is interesting to me how the news coverage is focused on the property tax RATE rather than the total property tax PAYMENT. The latter is the result of multiplying the rate by the property value. In one article I read that the reason the tax rate increase is moderate is a small increase in the value of the statewide grand list. So actual payments will go up faster than the rate itself.

    There was a period of time from perhaps 2000 to 2008 when the property tax rate did not rise too much but property values rose quickly — therefore actual property tax payments rose quickly, but the Legislature could avoid raising the rate.

    Actual payments are what generate the burden, not just the rate, unless the property value is held fixed.

    Rep. Cynthia Browning, Arlington


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