Vt. lawmakers push to increase aid to low-income families

Published: Feb. 23, 2023 at 6:13 PM EST
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont lawmakers are trying to figure out a way to potentially double the amount of aid given to families and children in need.

They plan to do that by getting rid of what’s called the “ratable reduction,” which determines how much money families get through the Reach Up program. That program receives state and federal funding and helps about 3,500 Vermont families -- including over 6,000 children -- by providing supplemental household income.

The amount of money families receive is determined by the Department for Children and Families. After that number is determined, the ratable reduction is applied. The current reduction is 49.6%, meaning families currently in the program get about half of what they need.

Representatives on both sides of the aisle say they hope to see that number greatly reduced so that families can get more help. “Right now, we’re reducing that benefit by half -- which is kind of crazy when you think about it -- when we determine that this is what the family needs to meet their basic needs in the state. And then we give them half of that,” said Rep. Rey Garofano, D-Chittenden-8-1.

“I’m sure there are people who hope we can get there -- 100% --and I think that that probably will prove not to be feasible. But I would hope that we could move the needle some because otherwise some of these folks are not going to get out of poverty,” said Rep. Anne Donahue, R-Northfield.

Lawmakers say they are still in the initial stages but that they hope to create a plan over the next five years.