Another huge chunk of money has arrived in Vermont, the second amount sent specifically to Vermont by the federal government.   

The Vermont House has already given approval to nearly $80 million which provided critical assistance to working families and businesses struggling due to the pandemic. The intent of all of this federal money was to address health disparities, increase social equity, and stimulate economic recovery.

Both amounts of federal money are COVID-19 RELIEF & RECOVERY AID for Vermonters.  Other states have received their own envelopes.

Already Vermont state legislators have  approved a COVID-19 relief package that includes funding for:

*Small businesses that received no federal assistance

*Pandemic-related services for New American and immigrant communities

*Housing and community supports for Vermonters struggling with mental health issues

*One-time stimulus checks for the poorest Vermonters on Reach Up

*Added investment in VT Farmers to Families Food Box program

*Improving the indoor air quality of school buildings for student safety

*New housing creation for homeless Vermonters, (not hotel costs)

*Increased data collection to track disparities and improve health equity

*Additional investment in pensions system for state employees and teachers

*Vermont Foodbank, $1.37million related to costs of purchasing food locally and distributing food to the needy on  “the last mile”

*Gap Recovery Grants, $10 million related to businesses ineligible for previous economic recovery grants

*School Indoor Air Quality Grants, from unexpected CRF money allocated to AOE

*Human Services’ suite of grants to New Americans/immigrants and Reach-Up recipients

*Health Care suite of grants addressing health care disparities and urgent mental health needs

*Tax language to codify the link-up of Vermont tax statutes with federal income tax law changes already reflected in tax forms already in use for 2020 income tax filings

*State Lands Improvement grants accelerated to take advantage of the construction season

*Vermont Housing and Conservation Board’s  $10 million to accelerate construction of housing

*Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired $100,000 to support reducing social isolation

*Working Lands, $3 million for on-going needs

*Broadband line extension

The new money that arrived on March 15 will be in addition to the projects listed above.  There is no doubt additional revenue will be needed to help Vermont in economic recovery.   But we should remember that at some point, someone will have to pay all this money back.  The federal government gets to print money when needed, but to keep our nation’s economy strong, we need to make sure it is paid back. Will our kids pick up the debt and accumulating interest? Let’s make sure that money goes where it will it will help to repair  the state’s economy.

I’ll keep my eyes open and you know what is happening and how the changes will most likely impact us .  

Do some good today.  

Carolyn Branagan

Georgia, Vermont

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