Scott Says Covid-19 Bills Short on Business Support; Grant Guidelines Coming This Week
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Posted by: Jeff Couture
Gov. Phil Scott on Monday said that Vermont businesses strained by the Covid-19 pandemic could soon be able to begin applying for $70 million worth of state aid, with guidelines for the business grants coming on Wednesday.
But the governor also reiterated that he doesn’t believe lawmakers have gone far enough in financial support for struggling businesses. Speaker of the House Mitzi Johnson, D-South Hero, pushed back on the governor’s criticism and said the legislative package is on par with the governor’s proposal.
During his press conference, Scott said that the economic relief package he proposed in May would have provided about $100 million in additional assistance, compared with the series of Covid-19 aid measures legislators passed this month.
This initial round of $70 million in financial assistance, which was passed by the Legislature earlier this month, is the first in a series of grant programs for businesses that are expected to be rolled out in the coming weeks.
The Agency of Commerce and Community Development plans to detail the guidelines for grant eligibility on Wednesday. (Legislators considered setting eligibility themselves, but ultimately left it up to the administration.) A spokesperson for the agency said a specific date for the portal launch has not been set.
On Friday, the Legislature passed roughly $600 million worth of Covid-19-related aid, using federal funding the state received in April under the federal CARES Act.
So far, the Legislature has spent more than $200 million of the $1.25 billion in federal funds on financial assistance for businesses.
Scott is expected to sign the proposals passed by lawmakers. But the governor has said that overall, he doesn’t believe that the Legislature has passed enough aid for the business community, and that he’s hopeful that when lawmakers return in August for a special budget session, they will work to approve more financial assistance.