The Vermont House is rapidly passing bills to target coronavirus relief funds to Vermonters, businesses, and vital systems that were impacted by COVID-19 disruptions. All told, these House bills propose distributing nearly $1 billion to Vermont communities before the end of the year. Passage is expected this week, and we plan to finalize all of the measures before the fiscal year ends on June 30.
For the most part, the House and Senate are working collaboratively with the Administration to ensure dollars get to the hands of those that need them most. While there are occasional policy disagreements, we’re trying to resolve our differences to move funds into our communities. For instance, we’ve already fast tracked about $265 million to cover emergency relief efforts. These investments include: 1) approximately $225 million that was expedited this spring for needs such as personal protective equipment (PPE), respirators, and the rental of space for hospital overflow; and 2) $40 million in the State FY2020 budget adjustment for COVID-19 expenses.
The House has been working to invest the remaining monies for other pressing demands. This includes the FY2021 Q1 budget, which proposes to appropriate $47 million for COVID-19 related costs. Additional major investments include: $302 million to stabilize our health care and human services systems, $160 million for businesses and economic development needs; $75 million for to support housing and reduce homelessness; $50 million for PreK-12 education; $45 million for broadband projects; $30 million for agricultural relief; and $11.5 million for higher education.
All of the $1 billion must be spent by year end to ensure these dollars swiftly flow to Vermonters, businesses, and institutions in need. This cash infusion will provide needed stability and stimulus to our local and regional economies.
Throughout this process, I have been closely engaged with the House Education Committee’s deliberations about how to stabilize and provide support to our childcare and PreK-12 education systems, as well as our institutions of higher education. We are finalizing details with the Senate Education Committee. I will provide an update in my next update, so stay tuned for that.
The impacts of COVID-19 remain with us each day. Please be in touch with me or Rep. Houghton if we can be of assistance. Though the first day of summer will arrive this weekend, and skies are bright and sunny, we know that many community members continue to feel the hardships that interrupted daily life this spring. If you want to connect, please email me at [email protected] or try me at (802) 734-8841.
Thank you for keeping in touch.
Rep. Dylan Giambatista