On January 12, 2022

Changes are coming to state’s incentivized relocation program

Money could flow in advance of move to incite decision, officials propose

By Fred Thys/VTDigger

The Scott administration and state senators are considering overhauling Vermont’s programs that pay people to move to the state.

“(M)y budget will support the Senate’s worker relocation incentive program — with some changes — to bring in more families who contribute to our communities, schools and economy,” Gov. Phil Scott said Wednesday, Jan. 5, in his State of the State address.

Instead of paying people once they move to Vermont, the administration is considering either paying them before they move or awarding grants before they move and sending the money once they have resettled in Vermont, Vermont Commissioner of Economic Development Joan Goldstein told the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs on Thursday.

Goldstein cited a report to the Legislature commissioned by the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation and conducted by Philadelphia-based PFM Group Consulting LLC that proposed the change.

“We may make that change,” she said.

Senators appeared to agree with the proposal.

“Rather than it being an incentive to get people to move to Vermont, it is something that people who have already moved to Vermont then go to seek to collect, but it’s not necessarily anything to do with them making the decision to move here in the first place,” said Sen. Randy Brock, R-Franklin.

“If we can fine-tune it to make sure that we don’t have people who are already here who had never heard of the program and all of a sudden they say: ‘Give me $5,000,’ I think we want to avoid that situation,” said the committee’s chair, Sen. Michael Sirotkin, D-Chittenden.

A person relocating to Vermont this year has received an average of $4,700, Kristen Ziter, financial analyst for the Department of Economic Development, told senators.

Ziter proposed removing the list of occupations that restricts who can be reimbursed for moving to Vermont. She cited plumbers and preschool teachers as people Vermont needs more of, yet those two occupations are not on the list.

She also proposed doubling the appropriation for the program as the Legislature adjusts the fiscal year 2022 budget for the final six months of the fiscal year, saying it is oversubscribed and the $480,000 allocated will not cover all applications.

Vermont’s fiscal year begins July 1. The Legislature can adjust the budget for the remainder of the fiscal year now that it has reconvened.

“This seems like such a small, productive program,” Sirotkin said.

“We need to get in on a course and not have another hiatus where we run out of money,” he said, referring to interruptions in funding of the three programs paying people to move to the state that Vermont has implemented since 2018.

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