Vt. Gov. Pushes Legislature to Pass Economic Relief Package

The Vermont Senate passed only a portion of Gov. Phil Scott's $400 million economic recovery proposal

Gov. Phil Scott urged lawmakers to pass his $400 million economic relief bill Friday and detailed Phase 2 of the package.

The Vermont Senate passed only a portion of Scott's economic recovery proposal.

"If we don't protect these businesses now and we don't protect the jobs associated with those business, in a year or two from now we'll be suffering. It will almost be a self-fulfilling prophecy," Scott said. "If we do this right, if we preserve the businesses and give them a life line, then we'll be able to get through the hump, so to speak, the budgetary hump and have our economy back to normal in another year or so."

In a Friday press conference, the Scott Administration announced an additional $90 million will be dedicated to financial assistance, housing, community recovery and broadband expansion in Phase 2 of the package.

"People in business for generations, over years through recessions, through thick and thin just could not foresee how they were going to make it through this crisis," Economic Development Commissioner Joan Goldstein said.

The $90 million in Phase 2 includes $55 million for financial assistance in the forms of grants and seed capital, $20 million for a broadband expansion program and $11 million in community and housing recovery and mortgage assistance.

The pandemic revealed the "absolute necessity," of broad band access, according to Goldstein, as Vermont residents with internet access have been able to stay safe by working from home, participate in online learning and access tele-health. Appropriately 23% of the population has insufficient broadband, Goldstein said.

"We really can't afford to wait," Goldstein said. "Regardless of semantics, this is a $400 million package intended to allow the economy and businesses to survive and thrive - to inject $400 million immediately into the economy, the community and spur economic activity to make up for tax revenue we've lost."

State Health Commissioner Mark Levine said Friday that about one in five patients show symptoms from the outbreak in Winooski, Vermont, a densely populated suburb of Burlington.

Vermont has seen 84 new cases of the novel coronavirus, with 34 related to an outbreak in Winooski, bringing that particular outbreak to a total of 81 cases. The death toll remains at 55. To date, nearly 50,000 people have been tested in Vermont.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott announced Friday a plan to once again allow visitors from out of state with restrictions.

Earlier this week, Scott addressed Vermont's plans for schools moving forward into the fall, noting that the state's official guidance will be released next week. All students will have a daily health check and may need to be closed if there are outbreaks in their communities.

Indoor dining at bars and restaurants also resumed in Vermont this week, with establishments capped at 25% capacity. Reservations are required.

Vermont has allowed visitors from the other New England states and New York to visit the state without quarantining -- so long as they come from one of the 55 counties that have virus infection rates of less than 400 per million residents. Vermonters are also allowed to travel to those areas and then return without quarantining.

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