Scott administration releases plan to spend billion dollar relief package

Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 6:07 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont Governor Phil Scott and his cabinet Tuesday made their pitch to spend more than a billion dollars in one-time investments paid for by the federal American Rescue Plan.

The Scott administration wants to invest the windfall in five sectors, including housing, water and sewer, broadband, economic grants, and climate change initiatives.

There’s almost $249 million upfront that will go towards building 5,000 housing units over the next three years. The mixed-income housing will include permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness, farmworkers, and cash for rehabilitating existing structures.

Another $250 million is being set aside for broadband in an effort to provide high-speed internet to the so-called “last mile” in rural areas as well as boost cell phone coverage statewide.

The plan includes $143 million for business grants and capital investment for “shovel ready” projects in towns. That includes funding to improve hiking and biking trails and other outdoor recreation.

An estimated $170 million is dedicated to sewer and clean water projects, including stormwater and phosphorus mitigation, and replacing lead pipes in low-income neighborhoods.

Finally, $200 million is earmarked for weatherization, electric vehicle charging stations, electric heating, and buying out properties vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Unlike the last federal relief packages, Vermont will have about three years to spend all the money. Many of the governor’s and Vermont lawmakers’ priorities overlap, including broadband and climate initiatives. But lawmakers still want to invest $150 million in the state’s pension funds, something the governor says he does not support this session without other reforms.

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