Vermont is set to receive a total of $2.7 billion from President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan.
On Tuesday, members of the Scott Administration outlined their priorities for spending $1 billion in discretionary funding over the next four years. Administration Secretary Susanne Young called the state’s allocation “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to strengthen our economy and our communities.”
State officials envision significant investments in broadband, business growth, housing, climate change, and water and sewer infrastructure. The largest amount of money, more than $250 million, is being considered for broadband expansion to homes that do not have high-speed connectivity.
“This spend would give access to highspeed broadband to 52,759 addresses across the state,” said Commissioner June Tierney with the Public Service Department.
The second highest budget is housing. Housing and Community Development Commissioner Josh Hanford proposed spending almost $250 million to create 5,000 more housing units by 2024 and reduce reliance on the state’s current emergency housing program.
“As a result of the pandemic, over 2,000 Vermont households are still living in hotels and homeless shelters and middle-income families have been priced out of home ownership in Vermont,” said Hanford.
Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore says she would like to allocate a total of $200 million to address climate change, half of which implement state’s climate action plan by December 1, 2021.
Officials also proposed $170 million for water and sewer infrastructure and $147 million for economic growth and workforce expansion.
“First, we have to work out what are we going to spend this one, what do we agree is important, what do we agree is going to make a difference to the future of Vermont,” said Young.
She says these proposals are expected to be approved this year but the money will become available over the next four years.