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Democrats to Debate Vermont's Education Future

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All five Democrats hoping to be governor will debate the hot topic of education Monday at a University of Vermont forum.

Gov. Jim Douglas, in both his state of the state and budget addresses to the legislature, called on lawmakers, school boards and schoolteachers to make sweeping changes in the state's education fund — from raising the amount of money households earning $60,000 to $90,000 pay as part of their income, to reducing the number of teachers and forcing existing teachers to pay a greater share of their health care premiums.

But, in his state of the state address, Douglas also proposed an increase in funding to higher education: $5.5 million to be shared by UVM, the Vermont State Colleges, and the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, as well as $1.5 million for so-called Next Generation scholarships.

On Monday, all five Democrats will take part in a forum moderated by former Vermont Associated Press bureau chief Chris Graff. The event, to be held at the University of Vermont in the Davis Center, is being sponsored by faculty from Castleton State College, St. Michael's College and UVM.

Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, who was invited by forum organizers, declined to attend. He wants to wait until after the Democratic primary before debating an opponent.

“The lieutenant governor will not be participating in any gubernatorial forums until we know who our opponent is,” said Corry Bliss, Dubie’s campaign manager.

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