A move to secure additional federal funding for Tropical Storm Irene repairs has come up empty.
The state expects to get about $30 million in federal relief and insurance payments to rehab the Waterbury state office complex and build a new state hospital. But the Federal Emergency Management Agency determined some of the work was not eligible for traditional relief, leaving the state short of the full $43 million price tag. The Congressional delegation sought additional funding, but those provisions were stripped from the Hurricane Sandy measure signed this week by President Obama. Vermont Congressman Peter Welch says it means starting over on a new Irene funding bill.
"What is true is that budget politics in the Congress are brutal. We have not passed a budget in four years, that just tells you how bad it is. That's our job to do, so anything with a dollar sign on it becomes extremely contentious. We had a good shot with the Sandy bill. It slipped through our fingers, so we have to go at it again and find whatever vehicle might work," said Welch, D-Vermont.
Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding downplayed the setback in Washington, calling the delegation's bill a "long shot." Spaulding says that will not affect construction plans.