The County Courier newspaper in Enosburg Falls VT is running a Candidates’ Forum
Q & A series. Here is this week’s question and my response:
Q: Given that Vermont is on track to be the state to best contain the coronavirus in the nation, do you agree with the response by the legislature thus far? Would you like to have seen a different response thus far? How would you like to see the legislature proceed in responding to the virus in the next biennium?
I will start by thanking my colleagues in the Legislature and the Administration for their tireless efforts to ensure the safety of all Vermonters and for the work that we are doing collaboratively to mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
My hope when the Governor announced his Economic Relief Package on May 15 was that we could expediently disburse Federal Coronavirus Relief Funds to the Vermonters who needed it most. I didn’t anticipate that it would be another six, slow, frustrating weeks before the details would be hammered out and the bills passed that would put money into the accounts of those businesses and entities suffering great financial losses. I remain disappointed with the majority party leadership‘s decision to hold back funds for potential future use in hopes of a change in directive from the Federal government - these funds were available for immediate use, and should have been used as such, particularly for our agriculture sector, which eventually saw a 40% cut from the Governor’s recommendation for relief.
Going forward into the next biennium, it will be crucial for us to work cooperatively to delve into economic recovery measures that address the roots of economic instability, as well as the impact of on-going COVID-19 restrictions. Much can be accomplished in the realm of workforce development and education, creating jobs and a workforce that has the education and skills necessary to bring manufacturing, agriculture, forestry, and service industries into the 21st century and beyond. I look forward to that challenge and welcome comments and concerns, which can be directed to me through my website www.hangoforhouse.com