Montpelier, Vt. - Governor Phil Scott, Secretaries Julie Moore and Joe Flynn, and community leaders today highlighted the importance of securing the $150 million dollars in federal match funding, proposed in the Governor’s fiscal year 2024 budget request, to support critical infrastructure projects for communities 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,” said Governor Scott. “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 from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns and Rutland Mayor Davis Allaire joined the Governor to voice their support for ensuring Vermont sets aside the funding needed to take full advantage of federal opportunities.
“Crumbling infrastructure will not heal itself. 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,” said Katie Buckley of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns. “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. Our towns, cities and villages are waiting for the State to do deliver the federal dollars so they can do their part to make transformational changes in their communities. We are grateful to the Governor and his Administration for working so hard bring these dollars forward to ensure this happens.”
“Good government is also about anticipating needs and being proactive, and having a degree of certainty helps people plan,” said David Allaire, mayor of Rutland. “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.”
During the Agency of Transportation’s budgetary process, an analysis determined the Agency would need an additional $79 million from fiscal year 2024 through 2026 to make full use of eligible opportunities for the State to secure federal funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. With this $79 million investment, the State could secure a minimum of $341.5 million in federal aid for eligible planned transportation infrastructure projects.
“The Governor’s recommended budget presents a use of one-time General Funds surplus to make vital transportation infrastructure investments possible,” said Transportation Secretary Joe Flynn. “On top of all the benefits of securing this funding while we have the one-time money available, it would allow us to lock in projects now, which has tremendous value. Given the reality of the inflationary factor in the construction sector, any project delayed now would almost certainly cost more later, so acting now is critical.”
Investing this money now ensures the state can secure at least four federal dollars for every one State dollar, and can help prevent future project delays, which would have a cascading effect. For example, according to the Agency of Transportation, delaying a FY 24 project to FY 25 would require additional FY 25 projects to be delayed, creating more delays in FY 26, all of which could result in an estimated potential project impact of up to $655.5 million.
This match funding will support 223 projects, including 74 paving projects, 46 roadway projects, 16 bicycle and pedestrian projects, 10 rest area projects, 10 interstate bridge projects, 40 state highway bridge projects, 17 town highway bridge projects, 1 rail project, 1 aviation project, and 10 public transit projects. If the funding is not secured this year, these projects could have scheduling impacts and delays, and the State will face difficult decisions in the future to secure funding.
For water projects, Vermont is eligible to receive an infusion of nearly $320 million in State revolving loan funds as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The State Revolving Fund program is an Environmental Protection Agency partnership that provides communities grants and low-cost financing for a wide range of water quality infrastructure projects.
The State would need to provide $27 million in State match funds to receive its full allotment.
“Water infrastructure is often the most valuable asset a community owns, and therefore requires significant, ongoing investments to properly maintain it,” said Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore. “Based on Agency projections, there will be roughly $2 billion of investment needed in water infrastructure– drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater – over the next 10 years in Vermont. In order to access these federal funds, Vermont needs to provide $27 million in State match, and the Governor’s FY24 recommended Budget creates a reserve that ensures Vermont will have what’s required.”
The funding will be used to support $155 million to refurbish existing drinking water and wastewater systems to ensure this core infrastructure continues to support vibrant communities; nearly $150 million over the next five years to support lead service line replacement projects across Vermont which will improve drinking water quality; and more than $42 million to address emerging contaminants, like PFAS, by improving drinking water and wastewater treatment.