Symington says college scholarship program approval unlikely

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(Host) House Speaker Gaye Symington says it’s very unlikely that Governor Jim Douglas’s college scholarship program will be approved by the legislature this year unless the governor finds a different funding source for the proposal.

Douglas wants to use $175 million over the next 10 years from the state’s second installment of the national tobacco settlement fund to pay for his plan.

Speaking last night on VPR’s Switchboard program, Symington said she supports the goals of the scholarship program but she says that source of money has already been promised to help support other essential programs:

(Symington) “We’ve made promises to seniors. We’ve made promises to low income Vermonters for health care. We’ve made promises to Vermont youth to help them with smoking cessation and prevention programs. The money has already been promised we can’t break promises to make new promises.”

(Host) Symington says she’s certainly willing to consider other sustainable funding sources for this proposal if the governor wants to offer some options.

(Symington) “If the Vermont scholarship plan is important we need to fund it responsibly and the legislature is very willing to work with the governor to find a way to do that.”

(Host) The governor insists that the tobacco settlement money is a good way to pay for the program because it’s available during a ten year period when the state needs to encourage more young people to work in the state.

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