Shumlin expects Legislature will wait on stimulus package

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(Host) Senate President Peter Shumlin says it’s likely that the Legislature will wait for details of an upcoming federal economic stimulus package before launching its own initiative.

Shumlin says the goal of both the state and federal plan will be to rebuild the state’s transportation system, develop new renewable energy programs and help create thousands of new jobs.

VPRs Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) On Wednesday, newly elected House Speaker Shap Smith surprised his colleagues when he called for the passage of a 150 million dollar public works and transportation bond package, moments after taking his oath of office.

Smith says the details of the plan are still being worked out including the identification of a possible revenue source to finance the bond.

At the same time, Democratic leaders in Congress are on a parallel track as they consider the passage of a massive economic stimulus plan that would address a number of similar issues.

Speaking on VPR’s Vermont Edition, Senate President Peter Shumlin said he supports Speaker Smith’s approach but he thinks it would be prudent to wait and see what Congress does, before passing separate legislation in Montpelier:

(Shumlin) "Here’s what we’re going do, the Speaker and I are going to work with the governor and the Congressional delegation to come up with the most creative list for the federal stimulus package… to make sure we can get the very best deal for Vermont there’s huge potential for us in that stimulus package to help create jobs to build an economy that will be based on renewable energy getting off our addiction to oil and really making Vermont a leader."

Shumlin says he views the Vermont initiative as an opportunity to provide money for programs that aren’t addressed by Congress:

(Shumlin) "Once we figure out exactly how well we do in Washington we will then come up with our own Vermont based jobs creation package and the Speaker did a great job of outlining some of his ideas to rebuild transportation infrastructure get job training going a lot of creative ideas you’ll see a lot more coming from the Senate as well and we’re going to work cooperatively to come up with the most imaginable jobs bill that we can back home."

Vermont officials are hoping that Congress will provide states with a lot of flexibility to use the new federal money.

They also want the stimulus bill to allow individual states to spend any new transportation money without providing state matching funds.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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