Did It Work

 

Credit Meg Malone / VPR

While we hear a lot about new initiatives or funding when first announced, it's not always as easy to figure out whether they lived up to their promises down the line — and if they were a good use of taxpayer money.

In VPR's Did It Work? series, we're following up on a sampling of publicly-funded initiatives in Vermont of the past several years.

Listen to All Things Considered at 4:50 p.m. during the week of May 13, 2019, for an installment of the series each day.

Series produced by Henry Epp.

Wood stoves for sale at Chimney Sweep II, in Berlin.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

Two years ago, the state offered Vermonters money to buy a new wood or pellet stove if they got rid of an old, polluting stove. The program was so popular, they decided to do it again this year (with a few changes). So how many people have taken advantage of these different iterations of the wood stove change-out program? 

The Did It Work? logo in white text on a blue background with the VPR logo in the corner
Meg Malone / VPR

This week on All Things Considered, VPR host and reporter Henry Epp has been exploring a singular question about publicly-funded programs in Vermont, both big and small: "Did it work?"

The weeklong series follows up on a handful of initiatives over the past few years and looks how much bang — if any — Vermonters got for their buck.

A Vermont Department for Children and Families call center.
Angela Evancie / VPR File

In 2015, then-Gov. Peter Shumlin announced a plan to invest millions of dollars in Vermont's child-protection system. One of the main goals was to reduce caseloads for social workers in the Department for Children and Families. Now, nearly three years later, are caseloads any lower?

Shacksbury Cider with Japanese labels.
Henry Epp / VPR

In 2015, Vermont's Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets secured $25,000 from a federal grant to help fund a trade mission to Japan. Leaders of eight small food producers, along with a few government employees, headed to Tokyo for four days in October 2016.

The goal was to drum up new business in an international market. So, a few years later, have those companies made sales to Japan?

A tractor rakes a field of asparagus
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

In 2015, the Agency of Agriculture teamed up with the Department of Tourism and Marketing to open a Vermont produce stand at the brand-new Boston Public Market. The two agencies saw the market stall as a way to promote Vermont tourism through the sales of Vermont food products — so what happened with this $25,000 state project?

A Chevy Bolt that's green and white and has the Burlington Electric logo on it.
Henry Epp / VPR

In 2017, officials gathered in Burlington to announce new incentives and rebates aimed at getting Vermonters to buy electric cars. The idea was to make electric vehicles more affordable for more people. But since then, how many low- or middle-income customers actually bought electric cars with those rebates?