The County Courier newspaper of Enosburg Falls VT is sponsoring a weekly candidate’s Q & A on relevant topics.
Here is this week’s question and my response:
Q: Unless there is an unprecedented federal bailout, the State of Vermont is looking at a deficit of about $300 million due to the pandemic. How would you like to see the legislature close the budget gap, and should Vermont run a deficit for 2021 (as the Federal Government has for years) in order to get through the response process of the coronavirus and get to better times?
A. The Administration’s budget was unveiled today, and It was confirmed that the deficit is at $180 million, rather than the expected $300 million, greatly helped by strong tax revenues from 2019 earnings and targeted belt-tightening and reallocation of funds across State government. It is heartening to say that this was done without major cuts to important programs for Vermonters in need, and some new programs will be implemented using the remainder of CARES Act funds and one-time monies. Those programs include more equitable stimulus money for previously ineligible recipients, a much-needed increase in childcare programs as parents return to the workforce, expanded aid to businesses hit by economic hardship, and a continuation of additional unemployment benefits. My gratitude goes to the Administration for their hard work keeping Vermont’s economy stabilized while attending to the needs of the most vulnerable populations without plunging the State into greater debt. As we move forward, every Legislative committee must take a hard look at the programs and services that they mandate and weigh the true benefits with the costs of maintaining them. At best, certain duplicative or obsolete programming must be eliminated and every program must undergo scrutiny and re-design to become the most efficient it can be for the price tag. I look forward to being a part of this difficult yet rewarding work as the fallout is projected to continue into FY’22 and ‘23, and I encourage my colleagues to join me in supporting the framework of the Governor’s budget.
The County Courier of Enosburg Falls VT is running a weekly candidates’ Q & A in relevant issues.
Here is this week’s question and my response.
Q: It seems that politics have become more and more divisive in recent years. If elected, what would you do to ensure that you will represent all of your constituents, not just those who align themselves with your party, and how would you work across party lines to ensure your constituents have the best representation possible.
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?
The County Courier newspaper in Enosburg Falls VT is running a series called “Choose Your Candidate”. This is the first week’s Q & A
Q.Please introduce yourself and tell us about why you chose to run under the party label you e chosen, and what you hope to accomplish if elected.
A.I am Lisa Hango, and I have represented Franklin-5 since six weeks into this biennium when I was appointed to a vacant seat in my District. The towns I serve are Highgate, Franklin, Berkshire, and Richford in a two-person District, and I live in Berkshire.
I identify as a Republican particularly because the values and economic freedoms traditionally espoused by the party most closely align with my own views. Being in the minority party has necessitated that I am able to work collaboratively with people on all sides of the issues while maintaining those core beliefs.
I aspire to serve my constituents by continuing to be reliable, responsive, and responsible - I strive to acknowledge and respond to each inquiry in a timely manner and to do the research to make well-informed decisions that are representative of all Vermonters’ needs.
Since the Legislature adjourned, a number of Coronavirus Relief Bills have been enacted; Assistance for Agriculture (dairy and non-dairy), Healthcare and Human Services (long-term care facilities, adult days, hospitals, independent providers, home health agencies), Housing (landlords, tenants, and homeowners) and Business have been launched. If you have any questions or concerns about this legislation or your qualifications for relief, please contact your Legislator – we are happy to assist you.Read more
Dear Constituents -
Since the Legislature adjourned on June 26, Legislators have been busy with their jobs and farms, catching up on long-neglected household chores, attending online community meetings, and fielding phone calls and emails for information about bills passed and how to access Coronavirus Relief Funding for businesses, farms, and individuals. Although we are on a temporary adjournment, we are accessible by phone, email, or website. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with your concerns and comments at [email protected]Read more
The Legislature has temporarily adjourned. Our work allocating $1.25 Billion in Coronavirus Relief/ Economic Recovery Funds is complete, a Quarter 1 budget was approved, and the Transportation, DMV, Pay Act, and Capital Bills were all passed. Within those bills, assistance is provided to all sectors of our economy, including but not limited to: healthcare and human services entities, frontline workers, renters, homeowners, landlords, agriculture and forest products producers and processors, nonprofits, small businesses, restaurant operators, municipalities, schools districts, state parks. Funding was allocated for: mental health and legal needs, marketing and technology assistance, broadband and connectivity expansion, housing and food stability, cleaning and disinfecting public properties – all with respect to increased expenses due to COVID-19. I remain disappointed that more funding was not allocated to the Agriculture sector, and another Franklin Co member hoped to put forth an amendment raising the amount to reflect the Governor’s ask, but it was not to be.Read more
This week in the virtual Statehouse has seen a whirlwind of proposals to spend Coronavirus Relief Funds, and like the weather in Vermont, if you didn’t like one, wait a minute and a new one was proposed…Nearly four weeks ago, the Administration put forth a $400 million Relief package, with major allocations to housing, businesses, healthcare providers, and agriculture. As of this week, much of this funding has been designated to agencies and departments to be used for COVID-19 related work, but unfortunate gaps in aid to agricultureremain. It is my hope that by the time the Legislature adjourns on June 26, these holes will be filled and more families will be out of danger of losing their livelihoods. I am grateful that the Commerce Committee has provided more funding this week for many of the small businesses, nonprofits, minority and woman-owned enterprises, restaurants, highway contractors, andcreative organizations that employ our family, friends, and neighbors. A bright spot on the Ag and Forestry products horizon is that the Working Lands Enterprise Fund will receive funding for related business ventures and that aid is provided to assure that our parks and natural recreation areas remain safe and open. For those of you who have enquired about additional funds for hazard pay to essential workers – only certainoccupations were allowed by the federal definition of “essential” worker and are included in the relief bill for those front-line workers.Read more
To all of Franklin County’s students who have graduated, please accept my heartfelt congratulations on a job well done. These are unprecedented times, and your perseverance and dedication is to be commended! I wish you all the very best in your future endeavors.
This was a very long Legislative week, with Committee meetings and House Floor sessions on Zoom stretching our screen time over many hours, as we tried to make sense of the guidelines on Coronavirus Relief Funding (CRF) and get the most money we could into the pockets of Vermonters. On Monday, my Committee, along with Senate Economic Development and Housing, fast-tracked $23 Million to the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and its community partners to begin work to rehabilitate up to 250 units statewide for the purpose of re-housing homeless Vermonters who are currently residing in motels. Discussion on remaining funds continued throughout the week, with House General voting out another $52 Million in housing money to Appropriations on Wednesday and a joint session with the House Human Services Committee and DCF on funding wraparound services to keep individuals and families with complex, high needs housed going forward.
Dear Constituents –
This week, my Legislative work was all about housing. My General, Housing, and Military Affairs Committee pored through several proposals, including the Administration’s, allocating Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) to alleviate and prevent homelessness in preparation to contribute to a four-part bill along with Small Business, Marketing, and Agriculture assistance. We have begun to meet more frequently by Zoom in order to hear more testimony and discuss these proposals, as the deadline to pass this legislation approaches. I am pleased to say that there is a strong desire to help landlords, as well as tenants, navigate the financial difficulties that they are experiencing, and there is hope to pass more emergency legislation next week. House floor sessions, also by Zoom, have increased in length and frequency in order to cover all of the bills coming out of committees and over from the Senate. All of these meetings are public and can be viewed on YouTube by livestream or recorded; the links are available on the Vermont General Assembly website and each committee’s webpage.