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MONTPELIER — The Vermont House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a multi-million dollar bill that includes $10 million in relief for businesses that did not quality for federal CARES Act dollars last year.

The bill, H. 315, was drafted by the House Appropriations Committee, also provides $20 million in down payment on the state’s unfunded pension liability, $10 million for outdoor recreational trails and recreation, $10 million for the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and $1.4 million for for Vermont Foodbank, among other needs.

It also sets aside $15 million for school air quality, as well as funding for mental health support and programs assisting new immigrants.

The House passed the bill 142-4. A third reading is expected Friday.

The pension paydown, while a small portion of the estimated $600 million growth in the state’s unfunded pension liability, is intended as a signal to Wall Street bond rating agencies that the state is serious about addressing the problem.

The bill now heads to third reading.

Greg Sukiennik covers Vermont government and politics for New England Newspapers. Reach him at

Greg Sukiennik joined New England Newspapers as a reporter at The Berkshire Eagle in 1995. He worked for The AP in Boston, and at, before rejoining NENI in 2016. He was managing editor of all three NENI Vermont newspapers from 2017-19.