(The Center Square) – Vermont officials are chasing $150 million in federal match funding that would be used in the proposed budget to support infrastructure initiatives across the state.
Republican Gov. Phil Scott, along with cabinet secretaries Julie Moore and Joe Flynn, highlighted Thursday afternoon how important securing the federal dollars is to repair infrastructure across the state.
“In order to get the highest return for Vermont and take full advantage of recently passed federal programs, it’s critical that we ensure we have the state matching funds required,” Scott said in a statement. “Our economists predict the significant revenue windfalls that resulted from federal pandemic aid to start tapering off, so it’s imperative we reserve this funding now, guaranteeing we have access to critical funds that will support hundreds of communities and benefit hundreds of thousands of Vermonters.”
Katie Buckley, a member of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, said chasing the federal funding will help the state take full advantage of opportunities from the federal government.
“Crumbling infrastructure will not heal itself,” Buckley said in a statement. “New infrastructure to meet our housing crisis and climate initiatives and make us safer and more resilient will not just magically appear. All of it is necessary. If we do it now, Vermonters win. If we do it later, Vermonters lose.
“We will put this work off and onto the backs of our taxpayers, with a growing price tag, and we push Vermont into a deeper crisis of affordability.”
David Allaire, mayor of Rutland, said being proactive now will only help Vermont in the future.
“Good government is also about anticipating needs and being proactive, and having a degree of certainty helps people plan,” Allaire said in a statement. “That’s why I think it makes all kinds of sense for the state to set money aside now – while we have it in surpluses – to ensure we can take full advantage of federal funds in the years to come – when we don’t know if state coffers will be as full.”
Vermont’s Agency of Transportation is seeking an additional $79 million for fiscal year 2024 through 2026 that would be used for eligible planned transportation projects under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. By the state investing the $79 million it could also receive a minimum of $341.5 million in federal aid.
The funding, if received, would go to assist the state with 223 projects, including 74 paving projects, 46 roadway projects, 10 interstate bridge projects, and 40 state highway bridge projects, according to the release.
The state, according to the release, would also be eligible for $320 million in state revolving loan funding that would be used to improve water infrastructure projects.
According to the release, the funding would support $155 million to update existing drinking water and wastewater systems, and another $150 million over the next half decade would be used to replace lead service lines.