Letter to the editor: Lawmaker fact-checks critics
Gov. Scott, the state’s chambers of commerce and even our own Addison County Economic Development Corporation last week and this week have gone on the attack because the state Legislature did not quickly rubber stamp Gov. Scott’s recent proposal for $400 million in economic aid.
Here’s a fact check: The $400 million proposal put forward by the Scott administration was well-intended, but devoid of the statutory language needed to make it law. A PowerPoint presentation is not the same as fleshed-out legislation. Further, both the executive and legislative branches are constantly learning about the eligible uses for the federally funded Coronavirus Relief Fund. Most of Gov. Scott’s proposals were, in the end, skating the edge of eligibility, or in the form of loans, which few businesses said they wanted, being already saddled with debt.
Last week, the House and Senate approved $93 million in one bill, designed to get money into the economy quickly — $70 million of which will be direct grants to businesses that have suffered major losses in revenue, not loans. A partner bill with another $80 million for business grants is expected to be approved this week for a total of $150 million in business grants — significantly more than the governor proposed, and passed quickly after waiting seven weeks for the governor’s proposal. And work is being finalized on legislation that will ultimately get $950 million into the economy through housing improvements, school preparedness, childcare and a myriad of other needs that the state is experiencing.
I hope this foray into a political blame game is a onetime departure from the non-partisanship we experienced for the first two and a half months of this unprecedented crisis. And I hope the organizations that took up this false call will do some better homework next time.
Rep. Peter Conlon
Editor’s note: Peter Conlon is the state representative for Cornwall, Goshen, Hancock, Leicester, Ripton and Salisbury.