STATE TO MAIN

January 20, 2023

Good Afternoon – Introductions have subsided and the legislature is now in the thick of reviewing around 30 reports, studies, and forecasts that were all released this week. Top among them was an economic forecast update for Vermont’s Emergency Board from state economists who have forecasted a $165 million decrease in state revenue next year. On the heels of immense federal funding in recent years, the state’s General Fund is now expected to dip by 9%.


With an outpouring of new data comes a new phase of the session as we anticipate key legislation to be introduced in the days ahead. Here in the State House, the Vermont Chamber continues to be a champion for economic stewardship during a time of great uncertainty. One-time and ongoing investments made this session must be done so strategically with a 30,000-foot view of the economy.


As always, our advocacy team can be reached at govaffairs@vtchamber.com.

Megan Sullivan, VP of Government Affairs
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Last Chance to Register: 2023 Vermont Economic Conference, January 30, 2023

The robust agenda features remarks from Senator Peter Welch, a keynote speech from Eva McKend of CNN (formerly of WCAX), and other stellar seminars and speakers. Lunch and parking are provided for all attendees.


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“Invest Versus Spend” – Governor Scott Delivers His 7th Budget Address

Economic development initiatives took center stage in this year’s budget address, totaling $8.4 billion. In what he described as his most significant and complex budget yet, Governor Scott detailed a myriad of opportunities for investments in several key areas, including regional support, housing, higher education, and workforce training.


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Childcare Report Released, Questions on Availability Remain

A highly anticipated report from the RAND Corporation was released this week, detailing potential options for financing a childcare system with expanded state-sponsored subsidies for childcare workers and families. While legislators continue to digest the annual additional $179-$279 million price tag, the Governor suggested adding $56 million to existing programs without raising taxes. The Vermont Chamber will work toward solutions that will focus on the underlying workforce concerns to improve childcare availability. To assist with our advocacy efforts, we invite you to take a few minutes to complete this survey.


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Housing Solutions Gain Momentum

The Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs has started to review an omnibus housing bill that includes proposals to address municipal zoning barriers and project-based tax increment financing. The draft bill also includes a number of programs, including an Employer Housing Partnership Program, a Missing Middle-Income Homeownership Development Pilot Program, and a Vermont Rental Housing Improvement Program. 


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The Cloud Tax Conversation

The cloud tax made its debut in Senate Finance this week. The Vermont Chamber has successfully opposed this tax each of the last six years. With mounting legislative tax proposals and economic pressures, we will continue to advocate against adding this to the burden on Vermont businesses. 


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Budget Adjustment Proposals Up for Review 

The Vermont Chamber testified in support of several economic growth initiatives detailed in the Governor’s FY23 recommended Budget Adjustment, including investments in services to recruit and retain the New American workforce, and essential rural infrastructure. 


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Legislative Intern Spotlight: Anders Norton

There’s a stellar team of interns elevating Vermont Chamber advocacy efforts this session. In the weeks ahead we’ll introduce you to each of them, starting with Anders! The 2023 Legislative Monitoring Collaborative is made possible by the support of the National Life Group


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Program Updates

  • Short-Term Forgivable Loan Program: The program administered by the Vermont Economic Development Authority is now open for all business sectors and will provide financial assistance to businesses that continue to experience current and ongoing harm due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more.
  • Community Recovery and Revitalization Program: Funding is intended for projects that make capital improvements or capital expansions that spur economic recovery and revitalization in communities across the state. The funding is also available for capital expenditures that support childcare and affordable housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income households, and to establish or improve municipal water and wastewater systems to build housing or create jobs through business creation and expansion. Learn more.
  • COVID Paid Leave Grant Program: The application window for this program is now open. Employers must demonstrate the dates each employee was out due to COVID, the total and hourly sick leave wages paid to each employee out due to COVID, and provide documentation to support that the leave was due to eligible COVID-related reasons. Learn more.
  • First Generation Homebuyer Program: Vermont Housing Finance Agency launched this program with the goal of helping more Vermonters afford their first home. This program provides a grant to eligible homebuyers whose parents or legal guardians were likely unable to pass on the generational wealth homeownership can provide. Learn more.
  • Vermont Creative Futures Program: The Vermont Arts Council is now accepting applications for Round 2 of its Creative Futures Grants to help the creative sector recover from economic losses due to the pandemic. Grants of up to $200K will be available to nonprofit and for-profit entities based on 2019 (pre-pandemic) operating revenue. Learn more.
Vermont Chamber News

Vermont Chamber on WDEV

Chamber President Betsy Bishop joined “Vermont Viewpoint” this week to discuss legislative priorities, and answer questions from callers on the state of the Vermont economy. 


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Annual Vermont Business Economic Survey

Davis & Hodgdon Associates and the Vermont Chamber have launched our annual Business Economic Survey to understand the economic issues facing your business in 2023. 


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Help Inform Advocacy Efforts – Employer Housing Survey

The Vermont Chamber is collecting stories of businesses that have lost employees or prospective employees because of housing. If you are an employer who has experienced this, please complete this brief survey.


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Resources

Climate Workforce Retention Webinar: February 9, 2023

The Energy Action Network’s Climate Workforce Network Action Team will provide an inspiring view of low and no-cost retention techniques for climate workforce employers. The event will feature a presentation by Susan Loynd, M.A., SHRM-SCP, who is an accomplished, certified, senior human resource executive with over 25 years of experience as a business leader.


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