The Legislature formally came to a close May 13, passing the largest budget in state history of $8.4 billion, fueled by American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.
Among the highlights, the Cloud Computing Tax did not pass, thanks in part to the background the VTTA provided legislators and our ongoing efforts. Funding for most, but not all, economic development and workforce measures supported by the VTTA passed, as well as new funding for housing and broadband expansion.
Here are a few highlights of the concluded session of note for the VTTA (Vermont Technology Alliance)
No Cloud Tax
The House and Senate conferees came to agreement on S.53, the bill dealing with corporate tax changes, which also had included a proposal to add the Cloud Tax in the House version. The good news is that agreement on the final bill does not include the Cloud Tax, which means implementation of this tax was held off for another session.
Economic Development/Workforce Development
The House and Senate conferees came to an agreement on a final $99.5 million economic development and workforce bill, S.11. Many, but not all, of the proposals supported by the VTTA were included. Unfortunately, one proposal that was axed was funding of marketing efforts to attract workers to Vermont. Here are some of the key provisions that did make it:
- Grants to Graduating College Students
$2.5 million will be allocated to the University of Vermont Office of Engagement, in consultation with the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, to administer a statewide forgivable loan program of $5,000 per graduate for recent college graduates across all Vermont higher education institutions who commit to work in Vermont for two years after graduation. This could be a positive incentive that VTTA members can use when recruiting new graduates.
- Workforce Relocation Grants
Funding was continued for the workforce relocation and remote worker incentive programs, at approximately $3 million; half of the original $6 million proposed. Improvements to the program include the ability to initially approve an applicant for a grant before they relocate to the state, and the elimination of restrictions on who can apply for the grants, which means tech and other related positions are eligible to participate.
VEDA Short-Term Forgivable loans
The Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) was allocated $19 million of ARPA funds to create a Short-Term Forgivable Loan Program to support Vermont businesses impacted by COVID-19. To be eligible, a business must have experienced at least a 22.5 percent reduction in its adjusted net operating income in calendar years 2020 and 2021 combined as compared to 2019.
Regional Workforce Expansion
The bill includes funding of $1.5 million to the Department of Labor for a two-year pilot program to launch a coordinated regional system, beginning in up to three regions of the state, to help workers find jobs and employers find workers.
Work-Based Learning and Training
The bill also includes $1.5 million for work-based learning and training programs, such as internships. This will include establishing a statewide platform for listing internships, apprenticeships and other opportunities, and assistance to employers to create work-based learning and training opportunities.
Community Recovery and Revitalization Grant Program
Funding of $10.5 million is provided for a Community Recovery and Revitalization Grant Program, previously known as the capital grant program. The purpose is to make investments to retain and expand existing businesses and nonprofit organizations with a preference for projects located in regions and communities with declining or stagnant grand list values. Maximum awards are $1 million or 20 percent of the total project cost.
- Paid Leave Grant Program
A Paid Leave Grant Program funded with $15 million in ARPA money will award grants to employers to reimburse the cost of providing COVID-19-related paid leave to employees. An employer may apply for quarterly grants to reimburse employers for the cost of paid leave provided to employees between July 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023.
The bill also includes funding for the trades and health care professions. You can see an outline of all the provisions in the bill here.
Information provided by the Vermont Technology Alliance.