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VERMONT

Vermont

State Recovery Act Website: http://recovery.vermont.gov/

Vermont's state Recovery Act website scored 15 out of 100 possible points (ranking 34th) on Good Jobs First's 51-state study of state stimulus websites entitled Show Us the Stimulus. The poor score reflects the fact that the state only included a breakdown of spending by broad and narrow program category and had a somewhat centralized site with info linked located on a few state agency pages. Contractor information: none.

Vermont scored better-30 out of 100 (ranking 35th, revised July 31st, 2009)-on its disclosure of information specifically about highway projects funded by the Recovery Act.  The state's transportation data website includes descriptions of projects, contractor award amounts and names, the expected duration of the project as well as the portion completed, and an indication that the information had been updated within the last month. Contractor information: available here.

For detailed scoring information, see the Vermont appendix of Show Us the Stimulus.

Coordination & Oversight

Tom Evslin, named as Chief Recovery Officer, was Secretary of the Agency of Transportation under former governor Richard Snelling, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Vermont State Colleges, and vice-chair of the Snelling Center, a non-profit dedicated to good governance in Vermont. Evslin ran a software business in Vermont for many years before working for Microsoft and then AT&T. Evslin agreed to be paid the minimum wage to lead the Office of Economic Stimulus and Recovery and has volunteered to return his entire salary to state coffers.

The speaker of the Vermont House, Shap Smith, proposed to set up a panel to oversee the state's spending of stimulus funds that would include one person from the House, the Senate and the administration. The governor's office agreed that accountability is critical but did not want to create an entity that overlapped with the already created Office of Economic and Stimulus Recovery.

The Vermont Public Assets Institute and the Ethan Allen Institute recently launched a new transparency website, available here.

Policy Debates

The state Senate passed an economic development bill (S. 137, sponsored by the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs) that offers tax incentives and tax credits (as well as broadening the use of tax increment financing districts) to help businesses come to or expand in Vermont. The Senate Economic Development Committee Chairman, Vince Illluzi, said the bill would help the state take advantage of the stimulus funds. This bill is on its way to a conference committee with House members where some portion may face opposition. Some opponents argue that the state does not have the money to fund these incentives and credits.

Although the ten most populous city, towns and counties in each state are supposed to receive funds from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program (which gets additional funding from ARRA), Vermont and six other New England states face a difficulty in that they do not have a traditional county government structure, which is deemed necessary to receive funds directly from the Department of Energy. Currently, both the DOE and the Office of Management and Budget are reviewing the flaw in this funding formula.

The Public Assets Institute remains critical 0n the FY 2010 budget which does not provide information about how proposed cuts would affect service delivery or mitigate the negative effects of cutbacks and hurts state employees the most, despite receiving stimulus funds.

Last updated on: 31 August, 2009

Watchdog Groups

Public Assets Institute

Resources

The Public Assets Institute released an issue brief in April 2009 titled Keeping an Eye on Vermont's Stimulus Funds; online here.

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