While federal negotiations continue on raising the U.S. debt ceiling, Vermont’s State Treasurer is cautioning that the seeming impasse could negatively impact Vermont’s hard-earned Triple-A bond credit rating. ‘Yesterday, we learned from Moody’s Investor Services that even the highest-rated states, including Vermont, would have their ratings reviewed next week in light of the continued U.S. debt ceiling debate,’ said State Treasurer Beth Pearce. ‘However, I’m confident Vermont’s track record of fiscal responsibility will serve us well in any rating review. Vermont has the highest credit rating in New England, one of the highest ratings in the country, a strong cash position and healthy reserves.’ Pearce said such disappointing news concerns her because the State’s high bond rating enables Vermont to borrow funds for critical infrastructure needs at very low rates and save taxpayers millions of dollars in interest payments. On July 13, Moody’s placed the U.S. government’s debt ratings on review for possible downgrade. Moody’s informed the Treasurer’s Office that it also was concerned that states would be negatively impacted by disruptions caused by the failure to raise the U.S. debt ceiling. State and federal governments sell bonds to investors to borrow money to make investments in areas such as public infrastructure. In Vermont, money raised by a bond sale funds a wide range of capital purposes, including State building construction and maintenance, health and public safety, and pollution control projects. The higher such bonds are rated, the more creditworthy a rating agency evaluates the bond issuer to be. Vermont bonds are rated Triple-A by Moody’s and Fitch Ratings and Double-A+ by the Standard & Poor’s Ratings Service. ‘The debate in Washington is a painful reminder that even though Vermont is fiscally sound and we are responsibly managing our finances through this economic downturn, we also are affected by national public policy decisions. It would be regrettable if all of the hard work and sacrifice that State government, employees and taxpayers have made to earn Vermont’s excellent ratings is put at risk due to events beyond our control,’ said Pearce. Vermont’s next general obligation bond sale is not scheduled until mid-October and Pearce said the State has sufficient cash balances and receipts to delay that sale even further if necessary. ‘We are fortunate that we can get through any short- or even medium-term bond market disruption,’ explained Pearce. ‘Many states are not in such an advantageous position. If a resolution to the debt ceiling issue is not forthcoming, debt markets will be volatile. States and municipalities with lower credit ratings may have difficulty accessing the market at affordable interest rates, if at all. I remain hopeful, however, that a resolution will take place before the deadline.’ The Treasurer’s Office has worked closely with State officials to review rating agency concerns and to develop contingency plans. Vermont has sufficient liquid cash reserves to manage delays in receipt of federal funds, and all of its existing debt is fixed rate and long term, which protects it from both rising interest rates and ‘rollover’ risk.
* radio- or television-based instruction These figures could still go up, said Bermejo. As to the “learning delivery modalities” or methods of teaching and learning, Bermejo said an initial survey showed that over 85 percent of learners preferred online and blended learning. * online class – but only possible if students have the needed gadgets such as laptop or desktop computer, cellphone, and strong internet connection In the previous school year, 453,000 learners enrolled. For the upcoming school year, enrollment is done through text (short messaging system of mobile phones), phone calls, email, and the social media application Viber, said Bermejo. While the enrollment period will officially end on June 30, he said, schools would continue accepting enrollees beyond that date. Bermejo said the school leaves a box at the barangay hall or daycare center or in a strategic/accessible area in the village where parents or students can drop their learner enrollment survey form. There is also the drop box enrollment system. Belleza said all these may be “blended”./PN Blended, said Bermejo, refers to a combination of radio- or television-based instruction, online and modular teaching. “Ang aton target maka-exceed sang number of enrollees last school year 2019-2020,” said Bermejo. “Nagapasalamat kita sa cooperation sang local government units up to the barangay level. Daku ang ila bulig sa pag-inform sa aton ginikanan about the enrollment through the drop box system. Barangayofficials themselves guard the boxes,” said Bermejo. DepEd Region 6 information officer Lea Belleza previously said “learning delivery modalities” being explored were face-to-face learning, distance learning, blended learning, and homeschooling. Face-to-face learning may be allowed in areas considered as “low-risk” for coronavirus disease 2019 transmission but health safety measures must be strictly observed such as regular disinfection of schools, frequent hand-washing, wearing of facemask, observing physical distancing, and checking of body temperature. For distance learning, DepEd-6 eyes three strategies. These are the following: ILOILO – From June 1 to 25, 186,355 learners in this province enrolled online for school year 2020-2021, according to Dr. Roel Bermejo, superintendent of the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Division of Iloilo Schools. “Sa subong it is too early for us to determine which modality to pursue,” he stressed. * modular – printed or electronic materials would be issued for students to study; this includes worksheets, too, that students must answer and other learning materials that teachers would deem necessary for the students Parents are mostly the ones contacting the schools, he added.
James Hinchcliffe, Fastest Car on Day 1 of Qualifications for the 100th Running of The Indianapolis 500 (Photo by Brent Lee)INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Day one of qualifying for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 started off soggy. All day, drivers complained of hard-to-drive cars, with some of them finally finding additional speed in the extra hour added to today’s qualifying. Wind and varying track temperatures were among the factors given blame by frustrated drivers from big teams to small.The Fast Nine Shootout cars are set for tomorrow. James Hinchcliffe led the group posting a speed of 230.946 mph. Joining him in The Fast Nine are Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power, Townsend Bell, Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden, Mikhail Aleshin, Carlos Muñoz, and Simon Pagenaud. Track conditions were best during the last hour of qualifying, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., which allowed some drivers to bump their way into The Fast Nine.Mikhail Aleshin (Photo by Brent Lee)Will Power (Photo by Brent Lee)They’ll now compete shoot-out style amongst themselves Sunday. The rest of the field (positions 10 through 33) will also compete again Sunday for their qualifying spot, now locked out of starting any better than Row 4. In the end, 5 Hondas and 4 Chevys made up The Fast Nine — whose cars are now locked-in to starting the race in the first 3 rows. Townsend Bell, who also works as an IndyCar TV commentator the rest of the season, said, “I think what we saw today was a really balanced field.”Townsend Bell (Photo by Brent Lee)Practice finally began at 12:37 p.m. The field of 33 was broken into 2 groups, each of which was scheduled for 20 minutes of green-flag practice. However, a few minutes into Group 1’s practice session, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Rookie Max Chilton lost control of the back of his car turning into Turn 2, and spun his car. Unfortunately for the rookie, his spin was stopped when his left front tire came into contact with the Safer barrier wall. It took the Halmotro Safety Team a few minutes to get Chilton out of his car, but he did walk away.Ryan Hunter-Reay (Photo by Brent Lee)Group 1 had 8 minutes of practice time left once the track was cleaned from Chilton’s crash. Group 2 was then shortened to 15 minutes of practice time.Practice came to an end just before 1:20 p.m. The cars then headed back to the garage area to undergo technical inspection before being rolled back to the track for qualifying — which began at 2:20 p.m. Qualifying was scheduled to end at 6 p.m. at the start of the day, but that was bumped to 7 p.m. due to the rain delay.Rookie Alexander Rossi had the fastest practice lap, at 231.249 mph (Honda), followed by Ryan Hunter-Reay, at 231.107 mph (Honda), and Tony Kanaan posted a speed of 230.360 mph (Chevy). Overall, only 21 cars took part in the practice.32 cars attempted to qualify, with the one omission being rookie Max Chilton — due to his practice crash. However, only 30 cars qualified. Pippa Mann’s crash during her attempt left her with no time. And Gabby Chaves withdrew his initial qualifying time, to try again — then failed to complete his second run.