Throughout his tenure as Vermont governor, and even more so during the pandemic, Phil Scott has been a friend to the business community. Ever solicitous of their needs, ever willing to step up when a helping hand is required.
But finally, I have identified the boundary of this unending love. It’s at the level of microbusiness — those with five employees or fewer.
This morning, the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee heard testimony about the state’s Microbusiness Development Program and its Covid-19-specific effort called EMBRACE*, which provides advice and grant funding to these smallest of businesses. And one of the things I learned from the testimony was that, in his FY2021 budget, Scott proposed eliminating the program’s funding.
*Economic Micro Business Recovery Assistance for the COVID-19 Epidemic. Must have taken a committee quite a while to come up with that.
The Legislature restored the money. Which turned out to be a very timely thing, because the Covid-19 pandemic pushed many microbusinesses to the brink of disaster. EMBRACE did a lot to keep them alive.
In his FY2022 budget, Scott has proposed to level-fund the program. But in each of the last three years, it has received an extra $100,000 over its base amount. Scott doesn’t want to continue that. And with the pandemic still raging, microbusinesses still need a lot of help.
Meanwhile, Scott’s budget is full of grant programs and tax credits for bigger businesses and favored classes of white-collar workers.
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