by Timothy McQuiston, Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont unemployment rate increased one-tenth in December 2020 to 3.1 percent, as released today by the Vermont Department of Labor. Vermont is tied for third lowest rate. However, the rates are calculated based on total labor market, which has fallen precipitously across the nation. In Vermont, there are now over 19,000 fewer people in the labor force and over 21,000 fewer working.
Vermont Business Magazine Vermonters age 75 and older began booking appointments for their COVID-19 vaccine Monday. On just the first day, more than 21,100 appointments were scheduled for the coming weeks – a rate state health officials called greatly encouraging. The vaccinations will take place at Health Department clinics, Kinney Drugs and other locations around the state beginning January 27.
by Jeff Tieman, VAHHS President and CEO However long it may seem, it was only 10 months ago that our state went into a state of emergency to protect Vermonters from a new, scary and highly contagious virus. At the onset of COVID-19, it felt like we were driving through a furious snowstorm and our windshield wipers failed. Visibility was limited and the road was winding, unknown and potentially very dangerous.
by John McClaughry In the coming fiscal year the Vermont legislature will vote to spend over $1.7 billion to educate our preK-12 students. What are students, parents and taxpayers getting for this startling expenditure?
To answer that question, Katharine B. Stevens and Meredith Tracy of the American Enterprise Institute recently released a study for all 50 states entitled “Still Left Behind: How America’s Schools Keep Failing Our Children”. The authors used the most recent data (for the 2017-18 school year) for K-12 spending and results.
Vermont Business Magazine Jim Curran, Executive Director of Dismas of Vermont, Inc (DOV), has announced the planned March 2021 opening in Rutland of a fifth “Dismas House.” The facility, to be located on Royce Street, will be dedicated entirely to meeting the unique reintegration challenges facing formerly incarcerated women. Dismas of Vermont currently operates four residential homes in Vermont that assist individuals transitioning from incarceration back into the community.
Vermont Business Magazine To offer more support to those who wish to quit smoking, Community Connections at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital (NVRH) will be offering its first ever Freedom From Smoking course, a group course designed by the American Lung Association, on February 2, 2021. Because most people already know that smoking is not healthy, Freedom From Smoking focuses on how to quit, rather than on why. According to the American Lung Association’s Freedom From Smoking webpage, the program uses pharmacology and psychology to help tobacco users control their behaviors. It also acknowledges that there are many methods to effectively quit, and therefore the program includes a variety of evidence-based techniques.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) I consider holding the office of the president pro tempore and the responsibilities that come with it to be one of the highest honors and most serious responsibilities of my career. When I preside over the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, I will not waver from my constitutional and sworn obligations to administer the trial with fairness, in accordance with the Constitution and the laws.
Vermont Business Magazine The SBA Vermont District Office hosts free webinars from 9 am to 10:30 am Wednesdays about the Paycheck Protection Program First Draw and Second Draw options. What is a PPP loan, terms, eligibility, and the application process? What is the difference between them? What has changed with the Economic Aid Act? Details on both programs will be presented.
The Vermont State Police is investigating a shooting that occurred Sunday, January 24, 2021, in southeastern Vermont. The state police was notified at about 6:25 pm Sunday that a man suffering multiple gunshot wounds had been dropped off at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital. Responding detectives spoke with the victim, later identified as Colby Boyce, 23, of Guilford. Boyce was subsequently flown to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, and is currently in the intensive care unit.
by David Coates, KPMG (retired) For over ten years, these columns have been critical of the treatment of the state’s retirement systems (state employees and teachers) which now in their present forms, are neither sustainable nor affordable without significant reforms. This has just changed with the State Treasurer’s report to the Legislature. The Treasurer and I have disagreed over the years on how to solve these problems. However, I must acknowledge and commend her for the recommendations she has made to the General Assembly on how to reduce pension and OPEB (retiree healthcare) liabilities to ensure the retirement systems are able to continue to pay their participants.
by Timothy McQuiston, Vermont Business Magazine Vermont State Treasurer Beth Pearce January 15 issued her long-awaited report on how to fix the looming $3 billion unfunded liabilities in the state’s pension and retirement health plans. The report calls for the state to increase payments on the one side while requiring retirees to contribute more financially. However, Pearce does not recommend changing benefits for any current retiree nor does she recommend changing the retiree plans from the existing “defined benefit” to a “defined contribution.”
Vermont Business Magazine Vermonters who are age 75 and older are now able to make an appointment for their COVID-19 vaccination. Vermont is the first state in the country to have a higher percentage of its population vaccinated than the percentage of residents who have been infected with the virus. As of today, the VDH is reporting 122 new cases of COVID-19 and one more death for a statewide total of 171.