LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: OCTOBER 2021 I hope the beginning of autumn is treating you well. I’d like to share an update of what’s happening in this off-season. While the House is not in session, I still find it important to work within my district to keep folks informed, especially as we are still navigating the pandemic. OCTOBER BUSINESS LISTENING SESSION
On October 4th, I co-hosted an event with Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale and Main Street Alliance at Santiago’s in the New North End. We spoke about what kinds of grants, both federal and state, helped businesses, labor shortage issues, and the help women and BIPOC business owners need for capital investments to grow and thrive. We heard requests for streamlined applications and technical assistance experts knowledgeable about each region of the state. Going forward, I will continue to seek input from small business owners on how the state and City of Burlington can help them. RENTAL AND UTILITY ASSISTANCE
There are currently two programs for Vermonters who are having difficulty making rent or utility payments: Vermont Emergency Rental Assistance Program (VERAP) and Vermont Covid-19 Arrearage Assistance Program II (VCAAP II).
VERAP can help with rent, electricity, natural gas, water/sewer, trash removal, fuel, and other energy costs. It is a program directed at folks who are experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic, facing a risk of homelessness, or households that are bringing in an income at or below 80% of the area median income. Note that this can help for late or incomplete payments all the way back to April 2020 The program ends December 31, 2021, or until all funds have been depleted. To apply and/or learn more, click here.
VCAAP II solely handles utilities, like electricity, landline telephone bills, natural gas, water, and sewer or wastewater systems. Like VERAP, it is also aimed at people that are 30+ days late on these bills and can be used by homeowners, renters, and business owners. To apply, click here or call 1-823-295-8988. This program ends October 24, 2021, or until all funds are depleted, so apply as soon as possible if it relates to you!
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE TAX REFUND
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), signed into federal law on March 11, 2021, included a retroactive personal income tax provision for tax year 2020. The provision excluded from taxation the first $10,200 of an individual’s unemployment insurance benefits, so long as the modified adjusted gross income (AGI) reported on the tax return is less than $150,000 in 2020. This unemployment exclusion also applies to Vermont personal income taxes filed for tax year 2020. Some Vermonters filed before the federal and state exemptions were enacted. To help these Vermonters get refunds from this exclusion, the Vermont Department of Taxes started issuing refunds to qualified taxpayers who filed electronically before April 1, 2021 over the summer. Please consult the state Department of Tax website for more information. PER PUPIL EDUCATION FUNDING Currently, there is a legislative taskforce dedicated to proposing changes to our education funding system to ensure all students equitable access to educational opportunities. As part of their charge, they have been reviewing a study by the University of Vermont to examine the system’s use of weighted per pupil formulas. The study made some important recommendations to modernize the formulas to account for today’s student population and what it costs to educate kids experiencing poverty, attending rural schools, and those learning English.
Two Chittenden 6-2 constituents (Burlington School Commissioner Jeanie Waltz and former Burlington School Commissioner Liz Curry) offered powerful testimony (click here to view) on the importance of examining our funding system at the last taskforce public hearing.
Learn more at an upcoming event I am hosting alongside Rep. Taylor Small, Rep. Tanya Vyhovsky, Rep. Brian Cina, and Rights & Democracy on October 13th, 7-8:30 pm via zoom. Please register in advance here. Be well as the days get colder and the nights get longer. And please, reach out if I can assist you with any state related matters.
Emma Mulvaney-Stanak VT State Representative Chittenden 6-2
Old North End | New North End, Burlington, VT House Commerce Committee Member (she/her/hers - here's a resource on personal pronouns) Social Media @staterepemma
Picture: A group of a dozen or so individuals listening to the story of owners of Santiago's on how they opened their business and ways to improve community support. People are masked around a table with coffee.