A $400 million COVID economic recovery plan from Land of Ben & Jerry’s deserves close look


Hello everyone,

Vermont’s Phil Scott has announced a bold economic recovery plan that’s worth more than a passing look.

Last week, the Republican governor from the state known for Ben & Jerry’s, the band Phish and Bernie Sanders, rolled out a proposed $400 million economic relief program. Scott was in the news today when he announced he would run for another term, but won’t campaign or raise money, due to the COVID crisis.

The program, which Scott describes as a first step in the state’s recovery, comes with $20 million for small businesses with five or fewer employees and less than $1 million in revenue. It also includes $42 million in direct assistance to landlords and tenants and help for the state’sbeleaguered dairy farmers.

Click herefor further details from VT Digger, the nonprofit online journalism site that covers the largely rural state.

The plan first surfaced locally on the ABetter Delawarepublic policy website, which went beyond its usual criticism of the state’s business climate to mention the program and interview a Chamber of Commerce official from that state.

Delaware is a state that despite its tiny size often shuns “not invented here” ideas. It is time to change that stance.

Scott says his state has the ability to pay for the program, thanks to funds from the federal CARES Act. There has been some dispute as to the flexibility of states to use those funds.

Delaware could scrape up funds for a similar program, especially if New Castle County allocates a portion of the $300 million it received under the CARES program.

State government would like to get the lion’s share New Castle money, since the county does not have to shoulder education, public health, and other costs that are often borne by counties. Under the CARES. Act, counties with more than 500,000 population also received funding.

Delaware, like Vermont, received more than $1 billion in CARE money. It appears that much of those funds will go to the state’s unemployment insurance system, which is now dealing with a reported 14 percent-plus jobless rate that is likely to be much higher than that figure.

It is also true that Delaware, thanks in part to its location on the I-95 corridor, is facing a tougher and more expensive coronavirus fight than Vermont, which has among the nation’s lowest rates of positive cases.

Delaware did respond quickly to the coronavirus crisis through the H.E.L.P. loan program for hospitality and later other businesses. H.E.L.P. could be a platform for a more expansive effort.

Delaware is a state that despite its tiny size often shuns “not invented here” ideas. It is time to change that stance. –Doug Rainey, chief content officer.

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