Nine Appropriations Bills Released This Week
Vermont Business Magazine Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Monday announced that more than $189 million in Congressionally Directed Spending priorities for the Green Mountain State were included in the nine appropriations bills released by the Chairman’s office on Monday.
Leahy noted that these targeted projects are investments in Vermont’s future, supporting education and workforce development, new and improved infrastructure, research and development, and preservation of the state’s heritage and environment. Monday’s announcement brings the total of Leahy-secured Congressionally Directed Spending projects for Vermont to $253 million across all 12 annual Appropriations bills that fund the federal government.
Leahy said: “These projects reflect months of outreach and the priorities of Vermonters from around our state. As Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee I am proud to have championed the return of Congressionally Directed Spending, which takes decisions on how to spend our tax dollars away from unelected bureaucrats in Washington, and places them back in the hands of our community leaders. Projects like the Park Street School Redevelopment and Black River Innovation Campus, supporting the Vermont State College System (VSCS), and providing the resources our nurses need to take care of Vermonters are excellent examples of the good we can accomplish with federal resources in our state.”
The Vermont State College System (VSCS) is undergoing a system-wide transformation to become a more adaptable and innovative public higher education system that meets the needs of all students, employers, and the state. This overhaul will establish a redesign of systems, processes, and a new way of operating that ensures fiscal sustainability and high quality educational opportunities.
The $3.7 million included by Leahy will fund three important steps of the transformation process, including the creation of a robust workforce development program, consolidation of virtual services and databases into one statewide library, and the development of an institutional research infrastructure. This transformation will ensure that Vermonters, especially the most vulnerable, continue to have access to affordable public higher education.
Leahy also included $3 million for the Park Street School Redevelopment & Black River Innovation Campus, which will support the Springfield Regional Development Corporation’s (SRDC’s) ambitious project to create a high-tech business incubator and community space at the former Park Street School in Springfield, Vt., as well as the development of the Black River Innovation Campus. SRDC has been working with the Black River Innovation Center (BRIC) to develop a digital economy ecosystem around entrepreneurship in the region. The utilization of the redeveloped Park Street School campus will help create jobs in the Springfield area by attracting high-tech business entrepreneurs to a region that historically lacks high-tech work space infrastructure that has become such an integral part of the growing industry.
Leahy also secured $9 million for the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET). Entrepreneurs in rural states like Vermont have limited options when they seek capital to launch and fund new companies. VCET manages an evergreen Seed Fund that helps next generation companies start, scale and succeed in Vermont. VCET started the Seed Fund with the help of funds championed earlier by Leahy in fiscal year 2010. Since then, VCET and the Seed Fund have invested more than $4 million into more than 20 companies, raising more than $200 million in capital and generating nearly as much in revenues while creating jobs in Vermont. The recapitalization of the Seed fund is expected to allow VCET to invest into another 90 early and scaling stage Vermont businesses and create an estimated 1,350 jobs with a focus in lower-income areas throughout the state.
Vermont is currently facing a critical nursing workforce shortage. The state’s aging workforce, the effects of the pandemic, and a growing need for care in the state makes it more important than ever to reverse the effects of this nursing crisis. Congressionally Directed Spending of $1.2 million included by Leahy will help the Vermont Business Roundtable develop a sustainable statewide career pipeline that strengthens nurse education, supports nursing students, and attracts Vermonters to careers in health care. This program will not only allow more diverse candidates to enter the nursing workforce, but expand access to care for all Vermonters by increasing the number of quality health care providers.
Leahy also secured $85 million to make improvements to the land port of entry at Highgate Springs to improve travel at the Canadian border.
Leahy, as the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, led in restoring the practice of Congressionally Directed Spending with new reforms and an unprecedented level of transparency. More about these reforms is available here. A full list of Leahy’s Congressionally Directed Spending requests across the nine bills can be found here.
Full summaries and bill text of the nine appropriations bills released on Monday can be found here. This is the key step in the legislative process for Leahy’s provisions, and the bills must now be considered by the full Senate, conferenced with the House, and signed by the President before becoming law.