Workforce and Economic Development Bills Progress as Appropriations Questions Loom

With only a few short weeks before the Legislature’s target adjournment date of May 6, uncertainty reigns for the two largest bills focused on economic and workforce development.

The Senate Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs Committee took testimony on various components of H.703, the workforce development bill. The Committee focused attention on the bill’s incentives for recent college graduates to stay and work in Vermont, incentives to retain nurses and other healthcare workers, and investments to train childcare workers and attract educators to Vermont.

Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee raced to finish work on the omnibus economic development bill, H.159, and is expected to pass the bill out of Committee late Friday afternoon. The House Commerce and Economic Development Committee began work on the VEDA forgivable loan section. Committee members disagreed with the Senate Economic Development Committee’s approach to restricting eligibility beyond the federal ARPA guidelines, and are inclined to give VEDA greater flexibility to administer the loans according to the unique needs of each business and sector.

However, the Senate Appropriations Committee has signaled that cuts will be necessary across both bills. The Vermont Chamber will continue to advocate for the relief funding that businesses were promised last year to not be reduced any further. Contact Amelia Seman if you would like to provide input on workforce or economic development.