Tag Archives: Doug Farnham

And By “Those Populations” I Mean, You Know, People

Huzzah, huzzah, the great amorphous bipartisan centrist policy apparatus has burped out another moral failure. I’m talking about Gov. Phil Scott’s plan to wind down rental assistance and emergency housing, which belies his perpetual commitment to protecting the most vulnerable.

Well, yesterday, the Legislature’s Joint Fiscal Committee, including its Democratic majority, signed off on the plan.

Does this help explain why so many Democrats were happy to vote for the Republican governor, or why so many were uneasy at the prospect of fierce housing advocate Brenda Siegel becoming governor and putting everybody’s feet to the fire?

Yep.

To be fair to the distinguished panel, they didn’t have much choice. The Legislature isn’t in session, and the JFC (unfortunate acronym alert) doesn’t have the authority or time to craft a replacement policy. But it would have been nice to hear a little more kicking and screaming.

We did get some pushback from Rep. Emilie Kornheiser, vice chair of House Ways & Means. “I am having trouble seeing my way towards March, April, when a lot of people will be handed tents.”

Tents. And we like to call ourselves the greatest country in the World.

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Sorry About That, Struggling Vermonters

I’ve got a post sitting on the backburner called “We Have No Idea How Well State Government Performs.” The thesis is that Vermont’s government is woefully deficient in checks and balances. The Legislature is too slammed to do any green eyeshade stuff. The executive branch provides the bulk of the available information. The Joint Fiscal Office does some useful things and so does the auditor, but their reach is limited.

So we’ll probably never know who’s responsible for the monumental screwup with the Vermont Emergency Rental Assistance Program (VERAP). It’s out of money, folks. Rental assistance will diminish in a month and disappear entirely for thousands of households before the onset of winter. Oh, and utility assistance will end before the calendar turns to 2023.

According to the administration’s own numbers, 3,015 recipients will see their rental benefits end on September 30. Another 5,400 will get reduced benefits through the end of November, and then nothing.

The explanations on offer are threadbare, sheepish and inadequate. There are broad hints of administrative malfeasance.

This ought to be a scandal. Will it be? Based on past performance, probably not.

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