Key Legislators Dispute Brock Claims About FEMA Funding

08/03/12 5:50PM By Bob Kinzel
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The leaders of the House Institutions committee say they never thought it was certain that the state would receive a substantial amount of money from the federal government to deal with damage to the state office complex in Waterbury.

This information seems to contradict charges made by GOP gubernatorial candidate Randy Brock this week.

At a Wednesday press conference in Waterbury, Brock charged that the Shumlin administration had misled lawmakers about the real prospects of the state getting a significant amount of money from FEMA to cover damage to the state office complex and the Vermont State Hospital.

Brock said the administration failed to provide the Legislature with information that indicated that there might be some problems getting the FEMA money.

"None of this information was conveyed to the Legislature," said Brock. "When we dealt with the Capital Bill which included the funding for these projects never was there any question raised to us at least to my knowledge that this funding was in jeopardy.

However the chair and vice chair of the House Institutions committee both say they were well aware throughout the session that the FEMA money was not guaranteed.

Springfield Rep. Alice Emmons, a Democrat, is the head of the committee.

"We were never sure that we would definitely get FEMA dollars. We were anticipating, we were hoping," said Emmons. " In the committee discussions we were concerned about what all the dollars would be and we could never get a firm confirmation what the dollar amounts would be. We in the committee always talked about a worst case scenario and the best case scenario."

Essex Rep. Linda Myers, a Republican, is the vice chair of the committee. She says she wasn't all that surprised when FEMA announced last month that it might scale back its funding for these projects.

"When we started writing this bill, it always was we didn't know specifically how much, we know that the state had to take on this job whether it was with help from insurance and FEMA and then money from the state," said Myers. "Or whether we were going to have to start looking at a long term way to pay for the rehabilitation of Waterbury and the State Complex."

Vermont's congressional delegation is getting involved with this issue and it's encouraging FEMA to give the state appropriate levels of reimbursement for the state Hospital and the Waterbury Office complex.

FEMA is expected to announce its decision in about two weeks.

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