MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - A legislative panel considering how Vermont should spend the remaining federal coronavirus relief money has approved about $3.1 million of the administration’s $24 million worth of proposals but needs more information and time to decide on the rest.
The money must be allocated by Dec. 30 or it goes back to the federal government.
The Legislative Joint Fiscal Committee voted 9-1 on Wednesday to turn down reallocations for grants and hazard pay proposals, including a $10 million addition to an existing grant program for non-food and hospitality businesses, the Bennington Banner reported.
Secretary of Administration Susanne Young and Economic Development Commissioner Joan Goldstein warned the committee the administration’s ability to process grants and issue checks becomes more difficult as time runs short and the holidays approach.
“If you wait and approve this later, we don’t think we can get that money out the door by December 30th,” said Young.
Lawmakers including Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, however, said the proposals were given to them on short notice without enough background for them to consider.
“We didn’t get notice of these changes. It didn’t come until (Tuesday),” Sears said. “We needed more information.”
Vermont reported about 120 new COVID-19 cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, for a statewide total of more than 5,400 since the pandemic began.
According to the Health Department, 22 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Thursday, with two in intensive care.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Vermont has risen over the past two weeks from 97.57 new cases per day on Nov. 25 to 117 new cases per day on Dec. 9.
The seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Vermont has risen over the past two weeks from 1.34% on Nov. 25 to 2.4% on Dec. 9. State health departments are calculating positivity rate differently across the country, but for Vermont the AP calculates the rate by dividing new cases by test specimens using data from The COVID Tracking Project.
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