first_imgI want to thank Senator Illuzzi, chairman of the Senate EconomicDevelopment Committee, for proposing language that moves the pending housingbill in the right direction.  Ive advanced responsible, common sense reforms to address thehousing crisiswithout increasing the tax burden.  The mostimportant proposals are the creation of a land bank to make surplus state landavailable for housing, and the New Neighborhoods initiative to expeditepermitting for housing in existing residential areas.  With the lowest foreclosure rate in the country, Vermont has done much better than otherstates.  Because of our strong consumer protection laws Vermont continues to have one of the lowestpercentages of sub-prime adjustable rate loans of any state in thecountry.  Nevertheless, Vermonters have not been entirely immune frompredatory lending practices or the repercussions of the national economic downturn in the real estate markets.   I believe we must do more to helpfamilies at risk of losing their homes.  As Governor, I have no more importantjob than securing and strengthening the economy for all Vermont families.  Indeed, the foremostresponsibility of all electedofficials is to tackle the economic challenges that face our state.  Andthe dimensions of our current challenge are clear. ### Ive asked the Banking Division to help Vermonters on the brinkof foreclosure negotiate with their lenders 60 day grace periods.  This willprovide relief and time for our mortgage assistance specialist to helphomeowners and lenders map out other financing mechanisms and alternatives toforeclosure. JAMES H. DOUGLAS            GOVERNOR ***Safe and affordable homes are important economic assets for families,peace of mind for workers who want to live near their job and theirchildrens school, and important recruiting tools foremployers.   The economists have been clear: housing development andrelated industries are key to our economic success, and making homeownershipmore accessible to working Vermonters has to be a significant piece of oureconomic growth strategy.  I asked them to reach beyond the usualsolutions of Montpelier. I told them clearly and this plan reflects it that Vermont cannot tax orregulate its way out of this downturn. ***Expanding the economy requiresthat we put homeownership within reach of every family and help those who maybe perilously close to seeing that dream slip away.  Over the last several years wevetaken a number of positive steps to make our economy stronger, but the unusualconditions of the national economya sub-prime mortgage crisis, spikingenergy costs, and an international credit crunchrequire Vermont to take decisiveaction. The proposals I present today are by nomeans the only steps we cantakein fact, there is more we can do over the long termbut theseare steps that we can take before the Legislature adjourns.  The problem we have is a simple one: Supply.  There justarent enough moderately priced, affordable houses being built.  Permittingcosts and a short supply of developable land are instead driving the market toproduce expensive homes that are priced out of reach of working Vermonters. This initiative will make $10 million available for Vermontersto finance manufactured homes and an additional $7.4 million available for cash downpayment, closing or repair assistance to other borrowers. v\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);}o\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);}w\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);}.shape {behavior:url(#default#VML);}st1\:*{behavior:url(#default#ieooui) }JAMES H. DOUGLAS            GOVERNOR The House, on the other hand, has resisted this idea.   ButIm hopeful the Speaker will recognize that now is not the time to erectbarriers to job creation and economic growth.  Now is the time to removethese barriers and put the economic security and prosperity of our familiesahead of politics.  ***In addition, I am offering a Targeted Manufacturing Payroll Tax Creditdesigned to provide support to manufacturing companies in areas of our statewith the highest unemployment rates.  These companies are particularlyimportant to their communitiesin many cases employing multiplegenerations of the same familyand they are important to themanufacturing legacy of Vermont.  We must promote business growth. We must welcome new jobs and new industries. We must tear down barriers torecovery, and keep them down for areturn to prosperity.  We must control spending and lower taxes.  Andwe must work tirelessly for the people of Vermont.  ***The Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) can provide an economicstimulus by offering very low-interest capital to businesses.  The Economic Growth Subsidy Program I propose would offer $18 million in lowcost capital for business expansion and start-ups.  These resources are aproven means of stimulating business capital investment, which in itselfencourages additional economic activity.  During this economic crunch, we need toextend assistance to homeowners who are having trouble making ends meet orfirst-time buyers who need an extra boost.  Through VHFA, I am proposingto leverage state retirement funds to provide $17.4 million in additional capacitythat will provide affordable and responsible financing and refinancing optionsfor low and middle-income Vermonters. It may not be a problem of our making,but some of the solutions to the recession are in our hands today.  Thats why, in anticipation of Tuesdays economic analysis, I askedmy team to pull together a robust and responsible plan to get Vermont back on track. Governor Announces Economic Growth Initiativecenter_img On Tuesday, we heard from theStates economists who reported that Vermont would not be immune from the effectsof this national downturnconfirming what Vermonters already feel at thegas pump and grocery store.  Thats why I am pleased to announce today the creation of the Vermont Mortgage Assistance Program.  Thisprogram will have a dedicated Mortgage Assistance Specialist within thedepartment of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration(BISCHA), who will staff a new toll-free assistance line for Vermonters who areat risk of defaulting on their mortgage.  That number is1-888-568-4547.  State of Vermont Today, I present a 15 point initiativethat will encourage immediate economic growth, create jobs, and help to ensurethat Vermontemerges from this challenge with a stronger and more resilienteconomy.   In total, this package has the potential to generatemore than $214 million in direct economic activity and millions more inindirect economic multipliers.  The majority in Montpelier must understand these economicrealities and must refocus their attention away from boutique issues,endless studies and pet projects; they must join me in the hard work ofeconomic relief.    Im also proposing that we pledge aportion of the States moral obligation commitment to back $30-$60 millionthat the VHFA can use to provide low interest mortgage financing to eligiblelow and middle-income borrowers.  They should also act on my Urban Homestead proposal.  Allthroughout Vermontsdowntowns there are buildings with thriving commercial space on the first floorbut underutilized space on the upper floors.  By providing Urban Homesteadtax incentives, we can encourage first-time homeowners to invest in thesespaceshelping to significantly increase economic activity in ourdowntowns and village centers.  State of Vermont   OFFICE OFTHE GOVERNOR ***To help create more jobs, I also call onthe Legislature to pass my proposal to immediately target up to $10 million in Vermontemployment growth (VEGI)tax credits toward Vermontbusinesses that use environmentally friendly processes or createenvironmentally friendly technology.  And I will also present to theLegislature Tuesday a package establishing Opportunity ZonesIndustrial facilitiesthat have been vacant for five years or more and can be renovated and leasedtax free to employers who locate there and create more jobs.  The economic value of these housing and job creation provisions aloneare very substantial.  The Agency of Commerce and Community Developmentprojects that over the next year the New Neighborhoods initiative can result inmore than 400 new homes, create more than 600 new jobs and inject into oureconomy nearly $22 million in direct construction wages, while adding $44million to the grand list.  Over three years, this initiative could resultin 1,200 new homes, over 1,000 new jobs and $90 million or more in constructionwages. Essex Jct., Vt. At the 2008 Vermont Home and Garden Show Saturday, April 19, 2008, Governor Jim Douglaspresented a 15-point economic package to encourage growth, create jobs and helpVermont emerges from the current national economic challenge with a strongerand more resilient economy.    In total, the package has thepotential to generate more than $214 million in direct economic activity andmillions more in indirect economic multipliers. The text of the Governorsannouncement is below. ***In 1976, as my wife Dorothy and I werejust starting our family, we struggled to find a lender to finance the purchaseof our first home.  Luckily, the Vermont Housing Finance Agency was thereto help.  Through one of VHFAs assistance programs, we were able tobuy our home in Middlebury that we still live in today. As the national economy softens and thecountry confronts a recession, our families are feeling the economic squeeze.Vermonters want Montpelierto take immediate and aggressive steps to strengthen the economy, create jobsand provide relief from rising costs for those who need it most.  Thoseactions will be my main focus with the Legislature in the coming weeks. I again call on the Legislature to pass the updated New Neighborhoods initiativeorsomething substantially like itthat streamlines our permit process andprovides incentives for communities to approve new construction. These targeted proposals are an importantbridge for those Vermonters who need a helping hand to afford their first homeor simply to stay in the home they love. Official Statement of the GovernorAnnouncing an Economic Growth InitiativeSaturday, April 19, 2008 Today, I offer the Legislature a simpleinvitation: join me in helping Vermontbecome the first state to emergefrom the national recession.  Join me in shaping an economy for thefuture. Join me in the hard work we were sent to Montpelier to do.   Based on an analysis conducted by the Department of Labor, this 2%credit on taxable payroll would apply to manufacturers in many northeastern andnorthwestern communities.  ***Vermontswood product industry has faced difficult times in recent years.  I willbe asking the Agency of Natural Resources to continue to increase the amount of timberoffered on state land each year.  This will be done in asustainable manner, in keeping with our commitment to the health of forestecosystems.  By extending the States forest resources responsibly,we can provide an important opportunity to an industry that is essential to thelast_img read more