Bill would give state aid to tsunami victims

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(Host) Backers of a plan to appropriate $50,000 from the state’s General Fund for tsunami relief are hoping their bill will be put on a fast track for consideration. However there are some concerns about the proposal at the Statehouse.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) When lawmakers convened at the Statehouse last week, one of the bills they found awaiting their consideration was a plan for the state to make a financial contribution to the tsunami relief efforts in Southeast Asia. The sponsor of the bill is Montpelier Representative Francis Brooks. He wants the Legislature to send $50,000 to the International Red Cross for to support relief programs for victims of the tsunami. The money would come directly from the state’s General Fund:

(Brooks) “I think it is the right thing to do. We have problems here in the state of Vermont but a third of our population did not disappear off the face of the earth in a 24 hour period. I just think that the souls of 150,000 people and those of millions who are homeless would be calling out this was one way.”

(Kinzel) There are a number of concerns about this proposal at the Statehouse. Some members, who didn’t want to be interviewed, said $50,000 was a lot of money at a time when the state is facing fiscal problems. Others said it wasn’t large enough to make much difference and some questioned if it’s appropriate for the state to get involved at all.

Brooks acknowledges these concerns and believes that they can be dealt with:

(Brooks) “My thought was that the great state of Vermont and all that it stands for, it should offer some help because of this great tragedy. I don’t think that the total amount of money that I’ve heard nationwide is enough because you’re talking about a restoration process to help people restore their homes, their towns, their cities to keep disease down. All of these things I think would be ways that the aid could be taken care of.”

(Kinzel) House leaders hope to reach an agreement about the future of this bill in the next few days.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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