VTDigger

MONTPELIER — In the past decade, Vermont has spent $285 million supporting the dairy industry and mitigating its environmental impacts. Those findings are from a new report by the Vermont State Auditor’s Office, which dove into what it called the “complex web” of state and federal policies and programs that regulate the dairy industry. “Can we determine, through analysis, if we’re achieving our goals? Because it’s costing us a lot of money,” said state Auditor Doug Hoffer. “This can force policymakers to revisit decisions that were made 10 or 20 years ago, and ask if they’re still really...
MONTPELIER — A $100 million broadband expansion bill was approved unanimously Tuesday by the Vermont Senate. The plan would funnel federal dollars both to the state’s communications union districts and small internet service providers to bring fiber to areas with no high-speed broadband. Boosting internet access has been a priority for both lawmakers and Gov. Phil Scott during the Covid-19 pandemic, when children needed broadband to learn remotely and parents needed it too, so they could work from home.  An estimated 60,000 addresses in the state still don’t have an internet connection, or...
MONTPELIER — Trudy Namubiru, a single mother and New American who moved from Uganda in 2018, said she loves her job as an accounts payable specialist at the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity.  But the pandemic has brought financial stresses, such as increasing costs of housing and of caring for her 5-year-old daughter. As a middle-income earner, Namubiru said she doesn’t qualify for many subsidies that help out low-income families.  That’s where the child tax credit expansion comes in. The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan includes a one-year refundable income tax credit worth...
The number of Vermont COVID cases each day has fallen 61% since April 1, the steepest drop in daily numbers in a year, officials said at a press conference Tuesday. The state reported 504 cases this week, down from 797 last week. Cases are dropping in every age group, even categories with a low vaccination rate, said Mike Pieciak, commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation, for the state’s weekly statistical presentation. As of Tuesday morning, 324,100 Vermonters had been vaccinated against COVID-19, the state reported; of those, 100,000 had received their first dose of the...

PANTON SELECTBOARD CHAIRMAN Howard Hall, left, shown here in 2019 with Town Hall Committee Chairman David Raphael, has hopes for federal pandemic relief money his town will get but will be careful about how it is spent. Independent filed photo/Steve James
PANTON — Panton Selectboard chair Howard Hall is looking forward to a “Christmas bonus” that his rural, creekside town on the western edge of Addison County expects to receive in June. But that gift — as much as $200,000 from the federal government’s American Rescue Plan Act — also raises plenty of questions for the local leader, whose hometown has just 677 residents. Hall would like to spend some of the money, which amounts to close to one-third of the town’s $624,000 annual budget, on digitizing Panton’s municipal records. That’s a costly project taxpayers likely would not be thrilled to...
VERMONT — Gov. Phil Scott on Tuesday unveiled a plan to spend $1 billion of federal COVID-19 aid on major investments in broadband expansion, affordable housing and initiatives to address climate change. If approved by the Legislature, Scott’s proposal would direct $225 million to a broadband plan his administration says would provide high-speed internet to 53,000 Vermont addresses with poor service or none at all. The plan would direct $249 million towards affordable housing, bringing 5,000 new units to market. Vermont’s housing commissioner, Josh Hanford, said the proposal offered the “...
MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott last Friday lifted some COVID-19 restrictions on Vermont restaurants, bars and clubs. The policy was due to take effect on Wednesday, March 24. Bars and clubs were allowed to sit people of different households together with a maximum of six people per table, according to the governor’s website. Other social distancing and capacity requirements remain in place. Like restaurants, bars are limited to 50% occupancy. Seating must be available for all patrons, with parties spaced six feet apart. Bar seating is allowed only if there is a physical barrier, like plexiglass...
With the Johnson & Johnson vaccine coming online and the federal pharmacy program ramping up, Gov. Phil Scott announced Tuesday that school staff, child care workers and more Vermonters with high-risk conditions would become eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine starting next week. Phase 5 of the state’s vaccination program will open March 8, Scott said, which will include high-risk Vermonters aged 55 and over. Starting March 15, those with the same high-risk conditions aged 16 and over will become eligible.  School staff and child care workers will also become eligible March 8, and...
MONTPELIER — Vermont is now getting 22% more COVID-19 vaccine doses per week from the federal government than its previous allocation, Gov. Phil Scott announced Tuesday. Scott learned in a call with other governors that morning that doses would increase another 5%, on top of an 8% increase announced last week by the Biden administration, which is working to boost the number of doses sent to states. Compounded, Scott said, the increase works out to 22%. That means Vermont will get about 10,800 doses a week for at least the next three weeks, which Scott said will aid greatly in planning ahead...
VERMONT — As Vermont continues to grapple with an economic crisis brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, Gov. Phil Scott on Tuesday pitched a state budget that preserves state government programs and makes major investments in affordable housing, broadband, higher education, environmental protection and IT modernization.  Until recently, the Scott administration and lawmakers had expected that next year’s budget would require austerity measures and drastic cuts. Officials learned last week, however, that state coffers had been filled to the brim by an infusion of federal dollars since the...

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Addison County Independent