Governor announces Vermont economic stimulus packageGovernor Jim Douglas announced a $214 million dollar economic stimulus package in hopes of making Vermont the first state to bounce back from the national recession. His 15-point plan, which would cost the state $3 million in spending but generate more than $70 million alone in its first year, has caused a rift between Republican and Democratic leaders who are scrambling to review it before the session comes to a close in two weeks.The package, which the administration says could generate more than $214 million for the state in the next five years, addresses issues of construction, housing, transportation, student loans, and even proposes two tax free holidays.One suggestion involves state bonding for $80 million over the next five years to pay for road and bridge repairs, which would create construction jobs and accelerate infrastructure repairs. Even though Douglas previously rejected an increase in the state’s bonding, he says that his administration reduced the state’s bonding debt, and that a harsh winter, increase in gas prices, higher construction costs, and the current state of the economy mean Wall Street investment firms will understand if the state needs more money.He also proposed reducing the $30 million annual transfer from the Transportation Fund to the General Fund by $4.5 million every year beginning in 2010. The cut would last until the transfer was reduced to $15 million that would go towards state police funding.In an attempt to address the current housing shortage, Douglas’ package proposes leveraging state retirement funds to provide $17.4 million to help first time home buyers and low income Vermonters hold onto their houses. He also wants to pass a portion of his New Neighborhoods housing proposal which would streamline permitting, generating 400 additional housing projects and $22 million in construction jobs.The plan also calls for student and small business loans, and tax credits for manufacturing businesses in areas with higher unemployment. There is also talk of a two day sales-tax free tax holiday and a week of no sales tax on Energy Star- related home appliances.Reactions were split along party lines, with support coming from Republicans and disapproval from a majority of Democrats, who believe that his housing plans are over politicized and over promised and that the entire package is hastily constructed. There is concern over whether the stimulus plan can go through legislature before the session ends in two weeks.Full text of Douglas’ speech can be found at www.vermontbiz.com.
Switzerland defender Johan Djourou would be open to a permanent move from Arsenal to Hamburg in the summer. “I know the coach, I love the club, I love the city. HSV (Hamburg) is incredible,” Djourou said in German newspaper Bild. “The club has so much potential. We have to go way up. “The fans are great. The mood is different than in England. If all goes well and the club also want to, I would stay.” The 27-year-old first moved to the Bundesliga side on loan in January 2013, with the deal extended for this season. Djourou, who came through the Arsenal youth system, would be keen to stay on. Press Association
The Georgetown Zone of the Guinness “Greatest of the Streets” is now down to the business end with the quarter-finals slated for tonight at the parking lot of the National Cultural Centre, none of the four quarter-final fixtures promises more fireworks than that of the Future Stars versus Bent Street clash.Tonight’s quarter-finals promises fireworks on the tarmac of the National Cultural CentreThe two sides are similar in their energetic high octane playing styles and will be sure to have their respective supporters on edge.The two teams who will face each other in the final match of the night progressed from the round of 16 in contrasting fashion as Bent Street scored a single goal against Ol Skool Ballers. If Bent Street’s win was hard earned, Future Stars made it look easy as they demolished a hapless Kingston by five goals to nil.Bent Street will look to Captain Okanie Fraser who has been their standout player time and again; if Bent Street is to go toe to toe with the Future Stars juggernaut they will need Fraser at his brilliant best.One factor that makes Future Stars the powerhouse that they are is that they have a team of players who can up the ante on any given night to dastardly effect. The likes of Jamal Cozier, Akeemo Anthony and Keron Solomon are all players who can upend a game on its head to the benefit of their team.Meanwhile defending champions Sparta Boss look to have an easy match against Queen Street Tigerbay but no team can be taken for granted at this stage.Two other exciting quarter-final matches on the night features Gold is Money taking on Rising Stars while Leopold Street will clash with newcomers California Square.The losers from the round of 16 will have a shot at redemption and $50,000 in the “Plate Section” of the tournament with Trap Squad taking on GTI Ballers, North East La Penitence facing Norton Street, Ol Skool Ballers versus Kingston and North Ruimveldt look to topple Upsetters. (Michelangelo Jacobus)Fixtures are as follows:Gold is Money vs Rising Stars-21:00hLeopold Street vs California Square-21:30hSparta Boss vs Queen Street Tigerbay 22:00hFuture Stars vs Bent Street-22:30hPlate SectionTrap Squad vs GTI Ballers-19:00hNorth East La Penitence vs Norton Street-19:30hOl Skool Ballers vs Kingston-20:00hNorth Ruimveldt vs Upsetters-20:30h