Legislature Adjourns After Passing Several Vermont Chamber Priorities
The Legislature adjourned Friday until October or January after passing bills that address several legislative priorities the Vermont Chamber worked to support over the past five months. A bill with a tranche of economic development proposals, including investments in tourism marketing, foreign trade, technology-based economic development, workforce development, and BIPOC business support was just one result of the session.
Other legislation that made it over the finish line includes additional economic recovery grants, the largest investment in broadband buildout in Vermont history, investments in child care, health care cost savings for businesses, and additional incentives to recruit workers to Vermont. While these actions will benefit the business community, regrettably the Legislature did not meaningfully respond to the reality of overwhelming unmet financial need in the business community as a result of the pandemic. Lawmakers advanced only $30 million in relief grants, despite the Agency of Commerce and Community Development identifying over $500 million in existing known unmet need. The Vermont Chamber’s lobbying team recognizes the challenges the business community has faced over the last 14 months and worked extensively to understand members’ individual policy needs and advocate for legislative outcomes with the goal of ensuring economic recovery and supporting Vermont’s economic future.
The Legislature passed a $7 billion budget that includes many unprecedented investments across state government, including in economic development. Some notable allocations are:
- $20 million to the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) to fund additional economic recovery grants
- $20 million to Vermont State Colleges for system transformation over the next four years
- $11 million to ACCD to be used in the same manner as the Brownfield Remediation Fund
- $800,000 to ACCD for technology-based economic development grants
- $1.5 million for the Better Places Program
- $2 million to the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing in additional funds, beyond the agency’s regular budget for marketing and regional stimulus
- $650,000 for additional funds for new and remote worker programs
- $100,000 for adult CTE scholarships
- $300,000 for adult CTE program improvements
- $150,000 to ACCD for outreach and technical support for BIPOC-owned businesses
- $300,000 to support foreign trade with Canada
- $900,000 to ACCD to fund the Entrepreneurs’ Seed Capital Fund
Funds for much of the budget rely heavily on resources provided to Vermont in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). This massive injection of federal money allowed legislative leaders and the Governor to advance bold proposals that may have otherwise not come to volition for many years. Please contact Vermont Chamber Government Affairs Director Charles Martin with questions.