State Government

Spend big fed $$ to overcome chronic worker, housing shortages, Scott proposes

Gov. Phil Scott delivers 2022 budget address

by Guy Page

Gov. Phil Scott wants the Legislature to solve Vermont’s severe worker and housing shortages and other chronic problems with a “once-in-a-generation” infusion of federal pandemic recovery funds. 

Scott Tuesday delivered his sixth budget address to the General Assembly, presenting a balanced budget that does not raise taxes while making what he called “historic investments to grow and strengthen the workforce, give kids more opportunities and help communities recover and thrive long into the future.”

The $7.7 billion budget, which includes unprecedented funds from the federal government, as well as significant surpluses in both the general fund and education fund, presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in Vermont’s future, while offering tax relief to hundreds of thousands of Vermonters.

“In my 21 years in public life, there has never been a more transformative moment,” said Governor Scott. “We have, within our grasp, the chance to combine good ideas, thoughtful legislation, and unprecedented financial resources into a better, brighter future.”

Worker Shortage

Vermont was lacking workers even before the pandemic led to thousands of Vermonters leaving the workforce – perhaps permanently. Scott described the problem in stark terms. “Since February 2020, we have lost 24,000 people from our workforce. That 24,000 is larger than the population of every city and town in Vermont other than Burlington. It is bigger than some counties. It’s greater than the populations of Williamstown, Johnson, Highgate, Hartland, Pownal, Underhill, and Hyde Park combined. 24,000 is more workers than in the construction and lodging sectors put together.”

To turn this shortage around, Scott proposes spending millions to train and fund internships and youth and adult technical training. It focuses on particularly needy essential jobs, such as truck drivers and, definitely, nurses: “We all know there is an urgent need in healthcare, which is why I asked for $15 million in budget adjustment to keep more nurses here, and directed $18 million in existing funds to train, retain and recruit healthcare and mental health workers.”

It also adds $8.5 million in worker relocation marketing to “move the needle” in attracting people to move to Vermont. 

Housing shortage

New and current Vermonters need homes, Scott stressed. 

“Right now, the supply of modestly priced homes for sale is practically non-existent. As of December, the median home price was more than $369,000. As of last week, according to the Vermont Association of Realtors, there were only 136 homes for sale that a middle-income family can afford and only five in Chittenden County.”

He proposes  $15 million to encourage the construction of homes for middle-income Vermonters, and another $25 million to transform rundown or vacant units into livable homes. 

“To see how well this program is working, just ask any of the families who have moved from homelessness into newly renovated apartments across the state, from Brattleboro to Bennington, Springfield to Rutland, Barre to Lyndonville, and beyond,” Scott said. 

Scott would invest another $105 million for affordable, mixed-income housing.

The full text of Scott’s speech can be read here.

7 replies »

  1. Just wait and see what happens once the emergency funds and temporary housing vouchers run out, to most of those “homeless families” that got assisted! It is just a band-aid on a wound that needed major surgery.

  2. It is clear Scott does not watch the news. Taxpayers hurt by blue state policies flee to red states. The only people VT is able to attract are people eligible for government programs.

  3. Just wondering, if all those 24000 people came back to work wouldn’t that create a surplus of workers and drive down the wages?

  4. One reason is because your “Brave Little State ” is just a sample of apathy that elects the SAME tired DNC-proggie thought patterns while playing Russian roulette. You elect BIG GOV people you get TAXED and mandated and Fee’d to death

  5. Throwing money at a problem is how the debt cycle, I owe you so I’ll scratch your back (China) and you can hold this play air money over my head that I now owe you…and coerce me into giving up my freedoms…so I can get that money.

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