What a whirlwind of a week for lawmakers in the Vermont State Legislature. In the midst of the Covid-19 crisis we received word that the Vermont State Colleges were planning on closing three campuses across the state, mostly in rural areas. After an outpouring of many emails, phone calls, and Facebook chats from many people across the state, Chancellor Spaulding decided to withdraw his proposal for closure. Even though we’re looking at a loss of nearly 500 jobs in just those three campuses, there are still many financial issues facing these institutions that started even before the Covid-19 crisis. The State of Vermont has grossly underfunded the VSC system for years, combined with lower student enrollment that have left these institutions in trouble.
I’m hoping that we can focus on solutions to this problem in the months to come because the students who access our State Colleges are our best means for economic development. These students become our workforce as they usually stay in Vermont upon graduating. They are our nurses, our teachers, our physical therapists, our dental hygienists, our graphic designers, our journalists, our cooks, our small business leaders, the list goes on and on. I know this because I am a product of the Vermont State College system and I know of its potential.
The Legislature has also been working on helping Vermonters who have had trouble with their Unemployment Insurance and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance filings. The long waits and frustration I’ve heard from constituents hasn’t gone unnoticed by leadership. State representatives now have access to a form that will go directly to the Vermont Department of Labor and someone will contact the person having issues. All you need to do is email me at [email protected] or call me at (802) 309-3522 and provide me your full name, phone number, last four of your social security number, the date you filed and the issues you are having and I’ll be able to get someone to reach out to you in a timely manner.
These have been real hard times on many Vermonters and we are really working hard to fix these issues. As the great State of Vermont begins to open back up, please stay safe and contact your leaders with any questions, comments or concerns. I appreciate the ability to help my fellow neighbors and I thank you for allowing me to represent you during this time.
Representative Casey J. Toof
Franklin 3-1 St. Albans City & Town