Funding for Vermont high speed rail, affordable housing on congressional chopping block

first_imgby Anne Galloway April 12, 2011 Four days after congressional leaders struck a budget deal with President Barack Obama, U.S. Senate and House staffers are scrambling to figure out how the continuing resolution target of $38.5 billion in reductions to fiscal year 2011 federal spending will impact the states.Congress will vote on the continuing resolution bill on Thursday, and there’s a good chance that details about how the cuts will affect programs on the state and local level will still be unknown, according to the offices of Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Peter Welch. Budget-writers have taken a top-down approach and assigned total amounts for reductions without clearly defining the source of the cuts in each area. Once the congressional cuts have been approved for a given agency, federal bureaucrats will then take on the task of determining what programs should be jettisoned.According to a statement from Sen. Bernie Sanders’ office, half of the $38.5 billion in cuts come from education, healthcare, and employment services. Defense spending, on the other hand, would be increased by $5 billion under the proposal.Congressional office staffers say the continuing resolution agreement for fiscal year 2011 will set a new baseline for the fiscal year 2012. Much deeper cuts are anticipated in the annual appropriations bill.Leahy, Sanders and Welch have all vociferously opposed the reductions targeted by the House GOP. In remarks to the Gannett news service on Friday night, Leahy described the Tea Partiers pushing the cuts arrogant ideologues. Welch told the Bennington Banner the latest iteration of the temporary budget fix ‘raises the question as to whether this is more about an ideological problem.’ More than 2200 Vermonters participated in a town meeting phone call on the subject Monday night.Sanders said he won’t vote for the continuing resolution when the temporary budget solution for fiscal year 2011 comes up for a vote on Thursday. He said in a statement: ‘Today, in order to reduce deficits that Republicans helped create, they now are slashing programs of enormous importance to working families, the elderly, the sick and children. At a time when the gap between the very rich and everybody else is growing wider, this budget is Robin Hood in reverse. It takes from struggling working families and gives to multi-millionaires. This is obscene.’Though the situation is still fluid, information is beginning to emerge about Vermont’s share of the reductions. For the most part, the cuts will not affect the state budget directly, but funding for programs like weatherization and community action councils, and projects that the state counts on ‘ such as affordable housing and wastewater treatment plants ‘ will take a hit.The Low-Income Heating Emergency Assistance Program will remain funded under the same formula for the time being, which means the state won’t see a reduction in the current fiscal year. LIHEAP has been targeted for a 50 percent cut in the president’s budget in fiscal year 2012.The continuing resolution also hurts Vermont’s chances for receiving $80 million for the western corridor (Burlington to Rutland) high speed rail project. Competition for the grants will be much more intense because the total amount available via the Florida high-speed rail giveback will drop by $400 million, according to Brian Searles, the secretary of VTrans. The state applied for the money two weeks ago. There are 90 applications for proposals in 22 states, Searles said.‘We still have a strong application and we have a match built in,’ Searles said. ‘We think we still have a good chance.’Statewide, positions for 15 police officers funded under the COPS program would be eliminated.Funding for weatherization will be eliminated; Vermont will lose more than $1 million.The state will lose about $6.5 million in federal funding for affordable housing and community projects, according to Gus Seelig, the director of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, which administers federal grants to communities. About $1.5 million to $2 million in Community Development Block Grants for projects like the Food Venture Center in Hardwick and Commonwealth Yogurt in Brattleboro, will disappear.‘My guess is, when you look at the totality of the cuts it’s going to be very for the state to make it all up,’ Seelig said. ‘It means we’re going to do less housing and less community development as a result.’Erhard Mahnke, the coordinator for the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition said funding from the Community Development Block Grant, the HOME program and earmarks will decrease the number of affordable housing projects in Vermont be 20 percent.‘There are good projects in pipeline that will not be funded,’ Mahnke said.The spin-off to the large economy will be much larger than $6.5 million, according to Mahnke. A slump in affordable housing construction would ripple out to builders, developers, architects and engineers.Given the potential economic impact of the cuts on the state’s workforce, Mahnke suggested the federal cuts might stir the Democratic leadership to look more closely at the revenue said.Community action councils, which deliver an array of services to the state’s poorest residents, will see a $150,000 cut in federal funding through Community Service Block Grants.Nationally, community health centers would be cut by $600 million ‘ a cut of nearly 20 percent. In Vermont there will be less money available for three proposed community health centers in Bennington, Addison and Orange counties and four satellites.The biggest blow comes from the elimination of earmarks. Vermont has, for many years, been the recipient of an outsize share of discretionary congressional funding for special projects because Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is a long-time member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Until this year, he had funneled hundreds of millions in federal funding into a wide range of projects. This year’s quota from Leahy alone would have been $150 million, according to his office. The 2010 list of federally funded earmarks from Leahy’s office included $10 million to IBM, $4 million to the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, $3.2 million to General Electric, $1 million for the Biomass Energy Resource Center, among dozens of other requests, according to pulled down $78 million in earmarks in 2010, ranging from $8 million to the Vermont National Guard, to $487,000 for the Area Agencies on Aging, $200,000 to the Vermont Division of Historic Preservation, to $200,000 for the Vermont FoodBank. Welch’s earmarks totaled $10 million that year. Anne Galloway is editor of vtdigger.orglast_img read more

Mourinho hits out at VAR after Manchester United draw

first_imgJose Mourinho pointed the finger of blame at VAR as his Tottenham Hotspur side were denied a Premier League victory against Manchester United by a late penalty on Friday. Jose Mourinho agreed to take charge at Liverpool in 2004 before Chelsea hijacked the deal Spurs were on course for three valuable points in the race for a Champions League qualification slot when David De Gea failed to keep out Steven Bergwijn’s first-half strike. But Bruno Fernandes’ 81st-minute penalty after Paul Pogba was bundled over by Eric Dier made sure United went home with a 1-1 draw to stay fifth, four points above eighth-placed Spurs. It could have been worse for Tottenham, but another United penalty in stoppage time was rescinded by VAR after Fernandes went down under apparently no contact from Dier. “I am not happy with the penalty and not happy with the second penalty,” Mourinho said. “I am unhappy with the VAR, not the referee on the first, the referee can make a mistake but VAR is there to do the job. “In the second I am unhappy with [referee] Jon Moss because he did not give the free kick leading up to it and then gave another penalty. In this case the VAR gave the truth. “We knew that we could have a penalty against because we know they have an incredible record of penalties given.” Loading… Mourinho also said VAR should have been used to book Fernandes for simulation after appearing to fall theatrically before the second penalty was called. While the Portuguese coach was left frustrated against the club that sacked him last season, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer praised Pogba who came off the bench in the second half for only his ninth appearance of the season. The France midfielder has been sidelined by ankle injuries and had not appeared since January, but sparked United into life when he replaced Fred just past the hour mark. “Paul did everything a midfielder should do, he tackled, won passes and showed some skills so fantastic to have him back,” Solskjaer told reporters. “He’s had a frustrating season with his injuries. Paul has shown today how he can contribute and I just look forward to getting him fitter and seeing Paul getting back to his best.” read also:Tottenham 1-1 Man Utd: Fernandes denies Mourinho victory Solskjaer paid tribute to United’s fitness staff as his side ended the match strongly. Mourinho, however, said his players had grown tired towards the end of a fast-paced game. “I liked my team performance for 70 minutes, I felt we were in control and I felt we gave them the kind of game that they don’t like very much,” Mourinho said. FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmail分享 last_img read more

Woman shot and killed by officer who was trying to shoot her dog

first_imgAuthorities in Texas are reporting that a patrol officer who was conducting a welfare check on a woman, accidentally shot and killed the woman while trying to shoot her dog.The incident occurred Thursday in a commercial district in Arlington.Officials reported that they received a call about a woman who seemed to be passed out in a grassy area. The officer went to the area and found the woman, however, when he began calling out to her, the woman’s dog began barking and then charged at the officer.The officer fired several shots at the dog, however, he struck the woman who was said to have “cried out” during the incident.The woman was taken to an area hospital where she was later pronounced dead.Authorities are now reviewing the officer’s bodycam to determine what exactly happened.It is unclear if the dog was shot.last_img read more