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YCQM: October 7, 2012 - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

YCQM: October 7, 2012

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

>> Announcer: FROM VERMONT'S MOST TRUSTED NEWS SOURCE, WCAX BRINGS YOU YOUR NEWSMAKERS, YOUR NEIGHBORS. THIS IS "YOU CAN QUOTE ME."

>>> GOOD MORNING, EVERYONE. THANKS FOR JOINING US. I'M KRISTEN CARLSON.

>> AND I'M KEITH McGILVERY. OUR GUESTS THIS WEEK ON "YOU CAN QUOTE ME," THE TWO LEADING CANDIDATES FOR STATE TREASURER, DEMOCRAT BETH PEARCE AND REPUBLICAN WENDY WILTON.

>> THANK YOU BOTH TO BEING HERE.

>> THANK YOU, MY PLEASURE.

>> GOOD MORNING.

>> A LOT OF TIMES THE TREASURER'S RACE DOESN'T GET A LOT OF ATTENTION. IT USUALLY DEALS IN BONDS AND NUMBERS, BUT YOU GUYS ARE FAIRLY HEATING THINGS UP. THERE'S BEEN A TESTY EXCHANGE OF EMAILS AND A LOT OF POLITICAL OBSERVERS ARE CALLING THIS THE RATION TO WATCH. BETH, YOUR CAMPAIGN HAS CALLED WENDY WILTON A LIAR, AND MS. WILTON, YOUR CAMPAIGN HAS RAISED THE ISSUE OF HOME OWNERSHIP. BECAUSE BETH PEARCE IS NOT COMMITTED TO VERMONT. DO YOU WORRY THAT MIGHT OFFEND SO MANY VERMONTERS WHO RENT?

>> I WANT TO MAKE IT CLEAR THAT I DID NOT RAISE THE ISSUE. MY OPPONENT ACTUALLY RESPONDED TO A QUESTION POSED BY SOMEONE FROM THIS STATION, AND IN ANSWER TO THAT, DISCLOSED THE FACT THAT SHE DOESN'T OWN A HOME IN VERMONT. MY CAMPAIGN RESPONDED WITH CONCERN ABOUT THE COMMITMENT ISSUE. HAVING SAID THAT, THERE ARE A LOT OF ISSUES IN THIS CAMPAIGN THAT ARE REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT TO TALK ABOUT, TRANSPARENCY, INDEPENDENCE OF THE OFFICE, MANAGEMENT OF THE OFFICE WITH REGARD TO OVERTIME AS WELL AS ISSUE PERTAINING TO PUBLIC INFORMATION AND OBTAINING PUBLIC INFORMATION FROM THE TREASURER'S OFFICE. I'D LIKE US TO STAY FOCUSED ON THAT AND REALLY DISCUSS THOSE ISSUES.

>> AGREED, BUT AGAIN, YOUR CAMPAIGN, I HAD SEVERAL EMAILS THAT CAME INTO MY INBOX AS DID MOST REPORTERS STATEWIDE AND YOU DID RAISE THE ISSUE OF HOME OWNERSHIP, SO WHY DO YOU THINK HOME OWNERSHIP MATTERS?

>> WELL, I THINK IT MATTERS IN THIS REGARD. THAT WITH A HIGH-RANKING OFFICIAL LIKE MY OPPONENT, SHE'S THE THIRD HIGHEST RANKED POSITION IN THE STATE OF VERMONT. SHE CERTAINLY HAS THE CAPACITY TO BUY A HOME, AND IN BERRY WHERE SHE LIVES, HOMEG ARE REASONABLY PRICED, SO THERE MIGHT BE AN EXPECTATION THAT SHE CERTAINLY HAS THE CAPACITY. WHETHER OR NOT IT'S IMPORTANT TO VOTERS IF SHE SHOWS A COMMITMENT BY HOME OWNERSHIP LIKE I HAVE DONE OR NOT WILL TRULY BE UP TO THE VOTERS TO DECIDE?

>> MS. PEARCE, YOUR REACTION?

>> I THAT I COUPLE THINGS HERE. NUMBER ONE, IT WAS RAISED THROUGH POLLING QUESTIONS AND I'M CONCERNED ABOUT THAT. THE RACE NEEDS TO BE ABOUT ISSUES AND IT NEEDS TO BE ABOUT THE GOOD WORK THAT THE TREASURER'S OFFICE HAS DONE AND THE IMPORTANT WORK WE NEED TO DO. WHEN MY OPPONENT TALKS ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT HOME OWNERSHIP QUALIFIES YOU TO BE AN OFFICE HOLDER IN VERMONT, I GET VERY CONCERNED BECAUSE PEOPLE IN VERMONT RESPECT DIVERSITY. WE RESPECT IT IN TERMS OF LIFESTYLE AND IN TERMS OF YOUR CHOICE OF HOME. I THINK ANY INDICATION OR IMPLICATION THAT SOMEONE HAS LESS TO OFFER IN PUBLIC SERVICE BECAUSE OF THE CHOICE OF HOME IS FRANKLY OUTRAGEOUS. FROM MY PERSPECTIVE, WE NEED TO RESPECT THE DIVERSITY OF LIFESTYLES OF ALL VERMONTERS. WE HAVE VERMONTERS WHO OWN HOMES, VERMONTERS WHO ARE RENTERS, WE HAVE VERMONTERS WHO HAVE MOBILE HOMES AND VERMONTERS DISPLACED IN MOBILE HOMES BY IRENE AND FOLKS THAT ARE HOMELESS IN THIS STATE AND ALL HAVE DESERVE A VOICE.

>> I'M CURIOUS, IN THE NEWSPAPER, YOUR CAMPAIGN MANAGER WAS QUOTED AS SAYING THAT YOU CHOOSE TO RENT BECAUSE OF FISCAL PRUDENCE. HOW SHOULD WE INTERPRET THAT? IS HOME OWNERSHIP TOO EXPENSIVE? VERMONT? HOW SHOULD WE INTERPRET THAT?

>> AGAIN, I THINK IT'S MATTER OF CHOICE ON MY PART. I'M NOT FOND OF DEBT AND SO I MADE IN CHOICE IN MY LIFE ABOUT HOW I LIVE. I CONTINUE TO EVALUATE THAT. MY SIBLINGS HAVE ALL OWNED HOMES AND MY SISTERS AND MY BROTHERS, AND THAT'S THEIR CHOICE. I MADE A DIFFERENT CHOICE ABOUT LIFESTYLE THAT DOESN'T CHANGE THE FACT THAT I AM A VERMONTER, I'M COMMITTED TO VERMONT. I HAVE 35 YEARS OF PUBLIC SERVICE. I TAKE MY WORK VERY SERIOUSLY, AND MY WORK IS ABOUT THE GOOD ECONOMIC PROSPERITY AND THE FUTURE OF VERMONT. I INTEND TO BE TREASURER WITH THE VOTERS' HELP FOR A VERY LONG TIME AND FINISH OUT MY CAREER AS TREASURER IN THE STATE OF VERMONT AND LIVE HERE FOR THE BALANCE OF MY LIFE.

>> QUICKLY, ANY REACTION BEFORE WE MOVE ON, WENDY?

>> I WOULD SAY, LET'S GET BACK TO THE REAL ISSUES.

>> SLRT.

>> ON THAT SCORE, I WOULD ALSO SUGGEST THAT I WOULD LIKE TO SEE MORE DEBATES BETWEEN MY OPPONENT AND MYSELF. I'D LIKE TO CHALLENGE BETH TO TWO MORE DEBATES, PARTICULARLY ONE IN SOUTHERN VERMONT, BECAUSE I'VE HEARD FROM FOLKS IN SOUTHERN VERMONT AND THEY FEEL THEY WOULD LIKE TO SEE A DEBATE SOUTH OF ROUTE 4 AND I WOULD LIKE TO PARTICIPATE IN THAT. THERE'S SO MANY ISSUES IN THIS CAMPAIGN I WOULD LIKE TO TALK ABOUT, I'M SURE MY OPPONENT WANTS TO TALK ABOUT, SO I THOUGH THAT CHALLENGE OUT THERE. LET'S MOVE ON TO THE REAL ISSUES.

>> MORE DEB BAPET, IS THAT POSSIBLE?

>> THAT'S SOMETHING WE CAN CERTAINLY TALK ABOUT.

>> I DO HAVE ONE FOLLOW-UP ON THE RENTING. FOLKS ACROSS VERMONT ARE CONCERNED WHETHER YOU COULD BE TRINT THEIR FAIR SHARE TO SCHOOL FUNDING. DOES THE LANDLORD IN THE PASS ALONG SOME OF THOSE TAXES?

>> THEY DO AND MANY HARD-WORKING VERMONTERS CHOOSE TO RENT. THIS IS NOT A STRIKE AGAINST ANY OF THOSE FOLKS, ABSOLUTELY, BUT I THINK THAT THERE'S AN EXPECTATION THAT A PUBLIC OFFICIAL WHO'S PROBABLY EARNED ABOUT A MILLION DOLLARS BETWEEN AL SALARY AND BENEFITS OVER NINE YEARS REALLY OUGHT TO BE MAKING A SERIOUS COMMITMENT TO THE STRAIGHT AND DEMONSTRATE IT TO THROUGH ABILITY TO PURCHASE A HOME.

>> LET ME RESPOND TO THAT. BASICALLY, AGAIN, MY RENT DOES COVER THE COST OF PROPERTY TAX AND THE LIKE. I THINK THAT MY LANDLORD MAKES GOOD FINANCIAL ASSESSMENTS, BUT WHAT SHE JUST SAID, I, AGAIN, RESPECT DIVERSITY IN VERMONT. WE HAVE CHOICES IN LIFESTYLE AND MY CHOICE SHOULD NOT DIMINISH MY CAPACITY TO SERVE. NOR SHOULD IT DIMINISH THE CAPACITY OF ANY OTHER VERMONTER. YOU HAVE MADE THESE STATEMENTS, YOU MADE THEM PUBLICLY, AND I DO THINK THAT WE NEED TO MOVE ON, BUT I DON'T THINK YOU CAN WALK AWAY FROM THOSE STATEMENTS. I THINK THEY'RE OFFENSIVE AND THEY'RE NOT PART OF WHAT VERMONTERS EXPECT IN POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT.

>> THE VOTERS WILL DECIDE.

>> SEPARATELY, BUT BOTH OF YOU RAISED CONCERNS OVER TRANSPARENCY. YOU THINK THE STATE -- YOUR OFFICE IS MORE TRANSPARENT NOW THAN IT'S EVER BEEN. EXPLAIN TO US HOW SO.

>> ABSOLUTELY. TAKE A LOOK AT OUR WEBSITE. THE TREASURER'S OFFICE HAS INVESTMENT INFORMATION GOING BACK TO 2003, ACTUARIAL DATA BACK TO 2001. WE HAVE MATERIAL ON UNCLAIMED PROPERTY AND I DO WANT TO MENTION TO VOTERS IF THEY HAVEN'T CHECKED OUT THE UNCLAIMED PROPERTY SITE, THEY SHOULD. THEY MAY HAVE PROPERTY THAT IS RIGHTFULLY THEIRS AND WE'D LOVE TO GET THAT BACK TO THEM. OUR SITE THE VERY TRANSPARENT, MORE TRANSPARENT THAN WHEN I CAME INTO OFFICE AND WE CONTINUE TO BUILD. CAN WE CONTINUE TO IMPROVE ON TRANSPARENCY? ABSOLUTELY AND WE'RE MAKING STEPS EVERY SINGLE DAY TO DO THAT BECAUSE OUR GOVERNMENT IS ABOUT GOOD FISCAL MANAGEMENT, TRANSPARENCY, PARTNERSHIP, COLLABORATION FOR ALL VERMONTERS.

>> WENDY, OBVIOUSLY MUCH DIFFERENT OPINION FROM YOU. WHAT'S YOUR TAKE?

>> ABSOLUTELY. IF IT WAS SO WONDERFUL, WHY DO WE HAVE A D-MINUS IN TRANSPARENCY FROM THE U.S. PUBLIC INTEREST RESEARCH GROUP. THAT IS UNACCEPTABLE IN THIS INFORMATION AGE. WHAT I PROVIDE TO THE CITIZENS OF RUTLAND THAT THE STATE AND THE TREASURER'S OFFICE IS NOT REPORTING AT THIS TIME IS CURRENT FINANCIAL DATA THAT WILL HELP OUR LAWMAKERS ONOUR CITIZENS UNDERSTAND THE CURRENT STATE BUDGET, WHERE WE ARE FISCALLY, AND ONE PLACE THAT'S EASY TO UNDERSTAND. MANY OF THE REPORTS THAT MY OPPONENT IS TALKING ABOUT ARE REALLY DIFFICULT TO INTERPRET IF YOU'RE NOT A FINANCIAL PROFESSIONAL. THAT'S WHAT'S REALLY MISSING IS A FUNCTIONALITY WITHIN THE TREASURER'S OFFICE THAT'S SORT OF LIKE A TRANSPARENCY PIECE THAT THE AVERAGE VERMONTER CAN GO ON AND UNDERSTAND WHAT'S OUR STATE BUDGET, WHAT ARE OUR SPENDING PRIORITIES, WHAT IS OUR PERFORMANCE TO DATE. THE LAWMAKERS DON'T HAVE IT EITHER. THAT'S WHAT I WILL PROVIDE. I'LL SHINE A LIGHT ON THE STATE'S FINANCES FOR THE PEOPLE OF VERMONT IN A WAY THAT THEY CAN UNDERSTAND AND PUT IT ONLINE TO THEY HAVE ACCESS TO IT. AND I ALSO WANT TO TELL YOU THAT THE CITY OF RUTLAND DOES HAVE THIS. SINCE I'VE BEEN TREASURER, THE WAY WE'VE ACTUALLY GOTTEN RUT LAND OVER THE HUMP AND INTO A GOOD FINANCIAL STANDING IS PRIMARILY THROUGH TRANSPARENCY. ONCE WE CLEANED UP THE ACCOUNTING, WE STARTED REPORT, NOT JUST TO THE BOARD, BUT ALSO TO THE PEOPLE AND TO THE MANAGEMENT OF THE CITY AND THIS IS ONE OF THE WAYS THAT RUTLAND GOT ON THE PATH OF SOLVENCY AND STAYED THERE.

>> I'D LIKE TO RESPOND TO THAT.

>> THANK YOU.

>> I THINK THERE'S A LITTLE BIT OF CONFUSION ABOUT WHAT A TREASURER DOES AND WHAT THE ROLE OF THE TREASURER IS, AND WE'VE ACTUALLY MADE THIS APPARENT IN PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENTS AND MY OPPONENT CONTINUES TO BRING THIS UP. THE D-MINUS RELATES TO THE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE AND MANAGEMENT. THEY REPORT TO THE GOVERNOR. THE U.S. REPORT, IF YOU TAKE A LOOK AT IT, IT REFERENCES THE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT AND IT REFERENCES THEIR WEBSITE. WHEN YOU CLICK ON, THAT YOU GO TO THEIR WEBSITE. THEY ARE THE BUDGET AND FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT OFFICE AND THEY PUT THAT INFORMATION OUT. I WILL TELL YOU THAT THE GOVERNOR HAS INHERITED THAT WEBSITE AND IS MAKING SUBSTANTIAL CHANGES TO IT AND LOOKING FORWARD TO THOSE CHANGES. BUT THAT'S A WEBSITE THAT TALKS ABOUT FINANCE AND BUDGET, WHICH THE TREASURER'S OFFICE, WHAT THE TREASURER DOES, WE'RE THE STATE'S BANKER, THE STATE'S INVESTMENT OFFICER AND WE MANAGE THE STATE'S BONDING PROGRAMS. WE'RE NOT THE BUDGET OFFICE, AND TO TAKE A D-MINUS OF SOMEBODY ELSE'S AND TO PUT IT BACK ON THE TREASURER'S OFFICE I THINK THE DISINGENUOUS.

>> I WANT TO SAY SOMETHING, THAT YOUR CAMPAIGN MANAGER SAID. YOU USED THE WORD DISINGENUOUS AND YOU'RE HERE FACE-TO-FACE WITH MS. WILTON. YOUR CAMPAIGN MANAGER RYAN WILSON RELEASED AN EMAIL YESTERDAY ON THURSDAY, SAYING THAT IT'S A LIE, THAT SHE'S REPEATING THIS LIE. IS WENDY WILTON A LIAR?

>> WELL, THE MATERIAL IS INACCURATE AND WRONG. SHE KNOWS IT. WE PUT OUT SOME INFORMATION ON THAT, I BELIEVE ABOUT A WEEK AGO, AND SHE CONTINUES EVEN AS OF YESTERDAY TO PUT OUT THAT THE D-MINUS IS OUT THERE AND IT'S CASTING ASPERSIONS ON THE TREASURER'S OFFICE FOR THE WORK THAT'S DONE IN ANOTHER DEPARTMENT. NOW, WE WORK WITH THAT DEPARTMENT AND WE WORK VERY CLOSELY WITH THAT DEPARTMENT AND I'M ENCOURAGED BY THE CHANGES THAT THEY ARE MAKING. THEY HAVE GOT A WHOLE TRANSPARENCY PROJECT THAT THEY'RE WORKING ON, BUT I THINK IT IS UNFAIR TO TAKE THE WORK OF A SEPARATE DEPARTMENT THAT DOES NOT DO THE FUNCTIONS OF THE OFFICE, EVEN MY OPPONENT IS UNAWARE WHAT THE FUNGS OF THE TREASURER'S OFFICE, PLUS SHE'S BEING DISINGENUOUS.

>> I'M COMPLETELY AWARE OF WHAT THE TREASURER CAN AND CANNOT DO AND THIS IS TOO NARROWLY A DEFINED VERSION OF WHAT THE TREASURER CAN DO. THE TREASURER IS AN INDEPENDENTLY ELECTED STATE OFFICIAL AS PRESCRIBED IN OUR CONSTITUTION AND IF THE TREASURER OF THE STATE OF VERMONT, IF THEY'RE INDEPENDENT ENOUGH, WOULD BE ABLE TO TAKE THIS INFORMATION FROM ANOTHER STATE DEPARTMENT AND PUT IT ON THEIR WEBSITE IN THE INTERESTS OF TRANSPARENCY. I AM A TREASURER OF THE FOURTH LARGEST COMMUNITY IN THE STATE OF VERMONT. I HAVE TAKEN A VERY SERIOUS RESPONSIBILITY IN TERMS OF REPORTING TO THE PUBLIC AND TO THE BOARD. I DO IT AS PART OF MY JOB EVERY DAY, AND THERE'S NO REASON IN THE WORLD WHY THE TREASURER OF THE STATE OF VERMONT CANNOT DO THE SAME. I THINK VERMONTERS EXPECT IT. THEY DON'T CARE WHAT DEPARTMENT IT COMES FROM. THEY WANT TRANSPARENCY BECAUSE THEY KNOW TRANSPARENCY WORKS. AND I WILL DO THIS AS STATE TREASURER. I WILL SHINE THE LIGHT ON THE STATE'S FINANCES. THE TREASURER IS A REPORTER OF FINANCIAL INFORMATION. THAT ANNUAL REPORT THAT THE STATE PUTS TOGETHER THAT'S AUDITED, THE TREASURER PARTICIPATES IN THAT. IF THAT ISN'T REPORTING, I DON'T KNOW WHAT IS, SO THERE'S NO REASON WHY THE TREASURER CAN'T ALSO DO THIS PIECE.

>> LET'S MOVE ON. YOU HAVE A RESPONSE?

>> I WOULD. A COUPLE OF THINGS. NUMBER ONE, I'M VERY PLEASED YOU MENTIONED THE STATE'S FINANCIAL REPORT BECAUSE THE TREASURER'S OFFICE DOES PARTICIPATE IN THAT. WE CREATE THE PENSION STATEMENTS, THE CASH DISCLOSURES, AND VARIOUS OTHER INFORMATION ON BONDING IN THAT REPORT. AND THAT REPORT, THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL REPORT HAS WON THE CERTIFICATE OF EXCELLENCE IN FINANCIAL REPORTING FOR SEVERAL YEARS NOW, AND WE'RE VERY PROUD OF THAT WORK, AND I'VE ALSO COMMENDED THE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE AND MANAGEMENT FOR WORKING ON THAT. THAT REQUIRES TIMELY REPORTING A AN AND IF YOU READ WHAT THE GOVERNMENT'S FINANCE OFFICE ASSOCIATION SAYS ABOUT THAT AWARD, THAT AWARD REPRESENTS TRANSPARENCY. AND WE CONTINUE TO IMPROVE UPON THAT AND DO THAT GOOD WORK. NOW, ON THE OTHER SIDE, WHEN YOU TAKE A LOOK AT IT, LOOK ON OUR WEBSITE IN THE BUSINESS OF THE TREASURER'S OFFICE. WE HAVE BOND DISCLOSURES, WE HAVE INVESTMENT DISCLOSURES. YOU CAN LOOK UP, ANY SINGLE INVESTMENT MANAGER, TAKE A LOOK AT THEIR PERFORMANCE, SOMETHING THAT IS NOT AVAILABLE TO THE RUTLAND WEBSITE, AND YOU CAN ALSO TAKE A LOOK AND DRILL DOWN TO EVERY SINGLE HOLDING THAT WE HAVE ON A QUARTERLY BASIS. THAT'S SOMETHING THAT'S VERY TRANSPARENT, IT'S ABOUT THE WORK OF THE TREASURER'S OFFICE AND I TAKE THAT WORK SERIOUSLY AND WE'RE OPEN AND AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC AT ANY TIME.

>> VERY QUICK FOLLOW-UP, MS. WILTON, BEFORE WE MOVE ON TO OTHER ISSUES.

>> I JUST RESTATE WHAT I SAID BEFORE, THAT AN INDEPENDENT TREASURER, A TRULY INDEPENDENT TREASURER COULD ACTUALLY TAKE ON THE MANTLE OF THIS REPORTING AND DO IT.

>> ALL RIGHT. LET'S TALK ABOUT PENSION FUNDS. IS THE STATE GOING TO MEET ALL OF ITS PENSION FUND REQUIREMENTS AND OBLIGATIONS FOR STATE EMPLOYEES AND TEACHERS? BETH PEARCE?

>> THE PENSION FUNDS. WE HAVE THREE PENSION SYSTEMS. THE STATE, TEACHERS AND MUNICIPAL RETIREMENT SYSTEMS AND THEY'RE IN VARIOUS LEVELS OF FUNDING. THE MUNICIPAL SYSTEM IS IN THE 90% FUNDED. THE STATE SYSTEM IS ABOUT 79.6, 79.8, SOMETHING IN THAT RANGE, AND THE TEACHER'S SYSTEM IS SOMEPLACE IN THE 63 TO 64%.

>> IS THAT WHERE YOU WANT TO SEE IT? WILL THE MONEY BE THERE IN THE FUTURE?

>> FIRST AND FOREMOST, I NEED TO SAY TO RETIREES AND EMPLOYEES THAT WORK FOR THE STATE, YOUR PENSION FUNDS ARE SAFE. WE HAVE MADE STRUCTURAL CHANGES TO THOSE PLANS THAT SAVE THE TAXPAYERS $20 MILLION PER YEAR, AND THOSE CHANGES HAVE BEEN MADE OVER THE LAST THREE OR FOUR YEARS, AND MUCH OF IT WITH MY INVOLVEMENT. I'VE BEEN AT THIS SINCE 2005 WHEN WE DID SOME STUDIES OF THE TEACHERS SYSTEM WHICH WAS WOEFULLY UNDERFUNDED AND WAS NOT ADEQUATELY FUNDED IN TERMS OF THE ANNUAL REQUIRED CONTRIBUTION. WE HAVE AN INDEPENDENT ACTUARY DETERMINE WHAT THE FUNDING LEVEL SHOULD BE AND THE STATE FRANKLY WAS NOT MAKING THOSE PAYMENTS. BACK IN 2005, WE GOT TOGETHER WITH THE ADMINISTRATION IN A BIPARTISAN EFFORT, THIS IS WITH GOVERNOR DOUGLAS, AND WE WERE ABLE TO MAKE A RENEWED COMMITMENT TO FUNDING AND THAT HAS CERTAINLY HELPED. THAT'S A COMMITMENT, BY THE WAY, THAT RUTLAND DOES NOT HAVE. RUTLAND DOES NOT FULLY FUND IT'S SYSTEM. IN ADDITION TO THAT, WE MADE STRUCTURAL CHANGES TO THE PLANS AND WE ARE IN A PATH FORWARD TO PAY DOWN THAT LIABILITY. AND THAT LIABILITY IS ABOUT $1.2 BILLION, BUT IT'S SCHEDULED OVER A PERIOD OF TIME, SIMILAR TO A MORTGAGE, THROUGH 2038. ON THE OTHER LAND, RUTLAND DOES NOT HAVE A MORTGAGE. RUTLAND HAS AN AMORTIZATION PROCESS. THAT'S THE EQUIVALENT OF SPREADING THAT OVER TIME, THAT GOES OUT EVERY YEAR. IT KICKS THE CAN DOWN A LITTLE BIT FURTHER. IT'S 30 YEARS THIS YEAR, IT WILL BE 30 YEARS NEXT YEAR, IT WAS 30 YEARS THE YEAR BEFORE, SO THEY ESSENTIALLY REFINANCE IT EVERY YEAR.

>> MS. WILTON, YOUR RESPONSE TO THAT. LET'S TALK PENSION, HOW DOES THE STATE LOOK WHEN IT COMES TO PENSION OBLIGATIONS?

>> NOT GREAT. I'M VERY CONCERNED. I'M CONCERNED ABOUT THE PENSION IN RUTLAND AS WELSH BUT AS TREASURER, I'VE DONE WHAT I NEEDED TO TO ALERT THE BOARD AND THE MAYOR WHO WILL BE MAKING THE DECISIONS TO INCREASE THE FUNDING OF THE PENSION, AND I'VE PROVIDED THEM WITH ALL OF THE INFORMATION AND OPTIONS THAT THEY NEED. THAT'S SOMETHING RUTLAND DEFINITELY NEEDS TO MOVE FORWARD WITH, BUT THEY HAVE WHAT THEY NEED. NOW, IN TERMS OF THE STATE PENSION FUND, I'M VERY CONCERNED ABOUT IN $1.2 BILLION IN LIABILITY. MY OPPONENT'S IDEA IS, WELL, THE STATE, MEANING THE STATE STACKS PAIRS, ARE GOING TO BE ON THE HOOK FOR THE UNFUNDED LIABILITY FROM THIS POINT GOING FORWARD FOR ABOUT 25 YEARS. THAT'S AN AWFUL LOT OF MONEY TO FIND IN THE GENERAL FUND, PARTICULARLY WHEN WE'RE LOOKING AT A 50 TO $70 MILLION SHORT FALL FOR THE NEXT FISCAL YEAR. WE HAVE A DOWNGRADE IN REVENUES AND WE'RE LOOKING AT A $55 MILLION DEFICIT IN THE EDUCATION FUND. TOUGH PILL TO SWALLOW, SO WHILE SHE'S RECOMMENDED THIS, SHE CAN'T GUARANTEE THAT THE LEGISLATURE WILL CONTINUE TO FUND IT AT THIS LEVEL. AND THAT'S A PROBLEM. SHE'S MADE A PROMISE, PERHAPS TO THE EMPLOYEES, THAT SHE CAN'T KEEP. NOW, OTHER PEOPLE HAVE SUGGESTED THAT WE CONVERT TO A DEFINED CONTRIBUTION PLAN, A 401(K) STYLE RETIREMENT PLAN FOR ALL NEW EMPLOYEES. THAT'S NOT AN ANSWER EITHER BECAUSE I KNOW THAT WILL INCREASE THE COSTS FOR THE STATE OF VERMONT OVER THE NEXT 10 TO 15 YEARS THAT WILL BE REALLY TOUGH FOR THE STATE TO MANAGE AS WELL AS DEALING WITH THE UNFUNDED LIABILITY. SO I WOULD SAY MY APPROACH TO THIS, IF I'M ELECTED TREASURER, IS TO REALLY LOOK AT A MULTI-PRONGED APPROACH LIKE THEY DID IN THE STATE OF RHODE ISLAND. THE TREASURER THERE HAS DONE A WONDERFUL JOB. SHE IS THE MODEL FOR NATIONAL PENSION REFORM. IT WAS A MULTI PRONGED APPROACH WHERE EVERYBODY CONTRIBUTED SOMETHING TOWARD THE SOLUTION AND REALLY WAS RESPECTFUL TO BOTH THE EMPLOYEES AND THE TAXPAYERS ALIKE, AND THAT'S WHERE I WOULD GO.

>> WE HAVE TO TAKE A BRIEF BREAK AND CONTINUE OUR DISCUSSION WITH THE TWO LEADING

>>> WELCOME BACK, EVERYONE. WE'RE CONTINUING TO TALK WITH THE TWO LEADING CANDIDATES FOR TREASURER, REPUBLICAN WENDY WILTON AND DEMOCRAT BETH PEARCE, AND WE TOOK OUR BREAK, AND WE WERE TALKING ABOUT THE PENSION. THIS IS A BIG ISSUE IN VERMONT. IT HAS TO DEAL WITH IF THE MONEY WILL BE THERE FOR RETIREES, AND YOU WANT TO RESPOND TO SOMETHING WENDY WILTON SAID.

>> THANK YOU. LET ME START WITH THE STATE HAS A TRIPLE-A BOND RATING AND THAT'S EQUIVALENT OF A FAMILY CREDIT RATING AND TRIPLE-A IS THE HIGHEST AND WE'RE RATED HIGHEST BY MOODY'S AND FITCH AND WE'RE RATED DOUBLE-A PLUS, WHICH IS THE SECOND HIGHEST RATING BY STANDARD AND POOR'S, AND THAT RATING WAS GIVEN A MORE POSITIVE OUTLOOK BY STANDARD AND POORS, WHICH MEANS THEY MOVED FROM STABLE TO POSITIVE, WHICH MEANS WE'RE ON THE ABLE TO A TRIPLE-A OR HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO MOVE THERE AND MY GOAL AS TREASURER, BECAUSE THAT TRIPLE-A BOND RATING IS IMPORTANT TO VERMONT. IT SAVES US MONEY AND AFFECTS THE LIVES OF ALL VERMONTERS, IS TO MOVE FURTHER DOWN THE ROAD TO THE PATH OF A TRIPLE-TRIPLE-A, BUT I WANT TO READ SOMETHING RELATED TO THAT.

>> CAN YOU KEEP IT BRIEF?

>> I'LL KEEP IT BRIEF. THIS IS THE MOST RECENT EXTRACT FROM THE BOND RATING AFFIRMATION WE RECEIVED. MOODY'S HIGHEST RATING REFLECTS VERMONT'S STRONG HISTORY OF FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT, WHICH INCLUDES CONSERVATIVE FISCAL POLICIES, THE MAINTENANCE OF HEALTHY RESERVE BALANCES THAT CONTINUE TO PROVIDE A CUSHION AGAINST ANY UNEXPECTED REVENUE DECLINES AND MANAGE A DEBT PROFILE THAT REFLECTS THE STATE'S FOCUSED EFFORTS TO REDUCE THE DEBT RATIO AND MAINTAIN WELL-FUNDED RATING SYSTEMS. THE RATING AGENCIES HAVE BAKED INTO THEIR ANALYSIS, OUR PENSION SITUATION AND FIND THAT WE HAVE MADE THE APPROPRIATE STRUCTURAL CHANGE. IN FACT, THE FITCH RATING REFERS TO THE STATE -- I'M GOING TO READ --

>> BEFORE WE GET TO THAT, LET'S GET WENDY WILTON'S RESPONSE AND THEN YOU CAN MOVE ON TO ANOTHER ISSUE.

>> I WOULD SAY THIS. BOND RATING IS INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT TO VERMONT. THAT'S TRUE. BETH IS RIGHT ABOUT THAT. HOWEVER, IT'S A LOOK IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR, WHERE WE WERE IN THE PAST BASED ON LAST YEAR'S FINANCIAL INFORMATION, BASED ON WHAT THEY SEE ABOUT THOSE PENSIONS, THE LATEST VALUATION WAS LAST SUMMER AND BY THE TIME THEY GET TO REEVALUATE IT AGAIN, IT WILL BE SIX MONTHS LATER. THAT'S THE REAL ISSUE HERE. WHAT I'M CONCERNED ABOUT IS OUR ABILITY TO MAINTAIN THESE BOND RATINGS. THE RATING AGENCIES ARE GOING TO LOOK MUCH MORE CAREFULLY AT PENSION ISSUES, AT OTHER KINDS OF PROBLEMS LIKE DO YOU HAVE TOO MUCH PEOPLE ON PUBLIC ASSISTANCE. THEY'RE GOING TO BE LOOKING AT ECONOMIC FACTORS LIKE THAT, OTHER THINGS THAT MAY IMPACT VERMONT IN A VERY NEGATIVE WAY GOING FORWARD. THEY HAVEN'T INSTITUTED THESE CHANGES YET. GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTING STANDARDS BOARDS HASN'T INSTITUTED THE CHANGES THAT ARE GOING TO REQUIRE BASICALLY A SUSTAINABILITY TEST. WHEN THESE THINGS COME AROUND AND VERMONT HAS TO RESPOND TO THEM, WE COULD SEE OUR BOND RATING SLIP. THAT'S WHAT I'M WORRIED ABOUT. I'M WORRIED ABOUT NOT THE LOOK IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR, BUT WHAT'S COMING UP AHEAD BECAUSE RIGHT NOW OUR PENSIONS ARE ACTUALLY FLIPPING, THEY'RE DOING WORSE. THE CHANGES THAT OCCURRED IN 2009 AND 2010 MOVED THE BALL DOWN THE FIELD, BUT NOT FAR ENOUGH. OBVIOUSLY, THEY WEREN'T AS EFFECTIVE AS THEY NEEDED TO BE, SO THAT'S A CONCERN THAT I HAVE. IT'S NOT ABOUT TODAY. IT'S ABOUT TOMORROW AND IT'S ABOUT TWO OR THREE YEARS FROM NOW WHERE I THINK THAT WE'RE GOING TO GET A LOT MORE PROBLEMS THAN WE HAVE. ONE MORE POINT THAT I WANT TO MAKE AND THAT IS THAT THE RATING AGENCIES ARE REALLY LOATHE TO DOWN GRADE ANY STATE. I'M GOING TO TELL YOU THAT. THERE WAS A GREAT BAR RON'S ARTICLE IN AUGUST GOOD THIS. TWO STATES HAVE BEEN DOWNGRADED SIGNIFICANTLY --

>> WE HAVE TO LEAVE THIS ISSUE HERE, BUT I UNDERSTAND YOUR POINT.

>> BUT THEY HAVE BEEN THE WORST --

>> VERY QUICKLY.

>> I NEED TO SAY TWO THINGS ON THAT. NUMBER ONE, GETTING BACK TO FITCH AND I'LL QUOTE THEM AGAIN, THE STATE HAS IMPLEMENTED CHANGES TO BENEFIT THE CHANGES TO EMPLOYEE CONTRIBUTIONS AND ACTUARIAL FUNCTIONS. WE WERE ALSO LISTED BY THE STATE -- CENTER FOR STATE LOCAL GOVERNMENT EXCELLENCE AS ONE OF THE CASE STUDIES OF HOW TO DO PENSIONS RIGHT. AND WHAT THEY NOTICED AND THEY SAID WHY HAS VERMONT BEEN SUCCESSFUL? FISCAL PRUDENT DENY, COLLABORATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING, WELL VERSED AND SUPPORTIVE ADMINISTRATION AND LEGISLATURE, STRONG RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS, AND WELL ORGANIZED EMPLOYEE AND RETIREE REPRESENTATIVES AND TRANSPARENCY.

>> CLEARLY A DIFFERENCE HERE ON HOW THINGS ARE VIEWED. WE HAVE A FEW MINUTES LEFT.

>> CAN I JUST RESPOND QUICKLY? THE TEACHERS RETIREMENT SYSTEM IS 65% FUNDED. THOSE COMMENTS MY OPPONENT JUST READ DON'T MATCH UP WITH THAT REALITY.

>> JUST A FEW MINUTES TO GO HERE. MS. WILTON, YOU RAISED CONCERNS ABOUT THE NEED FOR GREATER STRAITION BETWEEN THE TREASURER'S OFFICE, THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE AND THE LEGISLATURE. WHAT IS AT THE HEART OF THAT PROBLEM? HOW IS IT NOT WORKING?

>> THE HEART OF THE SITUATION IS THE STATE'S CONSTITUTION WHICH PROPOSES THAT THE TREASURER BE INDEPENDENTLY ELECTED, OF COURSE, BUT ALSO IN MY VIEW, STIPULATES THAT THAT PERSON SHOULD BE COMPLETELY INDEPENDENT FROM THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE LEGISLATURE IN ORDER TO REALLY WATCH THE STATE'S CHECKBOOK.

>> IS MS. PEARCE UNABLE TO PERFORM IN THAT FUNCTION?

>> I BELIEVE THAT MS. PEARCE HAS STRONG TIES TO THE ADMINISTRATION AND THIS IS DEMONSTRATED IN A COUPLE OF WAYS. THE FIRST THING IS THAT MS. PEARCE WAS BROUGHT UP FROM MASSACHUSETTS BY THEN TREASURER JEB SPAULDING TO BECOME THE DEPUTY TREASURER. SHE ALSO HAD FOUR APPOINTMENTS BY JEB SPAULDING AS HE WAS RE-ELECTED FOR HER TO BE TREASURER, FOR HER TO BE THE DEPUTY TREASURER, SO SHE'S HAD FOUR APPOINTMENTS BY JEB. HE WAS THEN APPOINTED TO BE PART OF THE ADMINISTRATION FOR GOVERNOR SHUMLIN WHO THEN LATER, AFTER HE BROUGHT JEB INTO HIS ADMINISTRATION, THEN APPOINTED MS. PEARCE TO BE TREASURER. SO CLEARLY, SHE IS BE-HOLDEN TO THIS ADMINISTRATION FOR THE POSITION THAT SHE HAS TODAY. AND I WOULD SAY THAT THIS -- I HAVE ONE MORE THING I HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THIS. THE STATE TREASURER IS THE FIDUCIARY FOR THE STATE'S PENSION FUNDS. MS. PEARCE HAS STRONG, STRONG BACKING FROM THE LABOR GROUPS WHICH, TO ME, RAISES A QUESTION ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT SHE COULD TRULY BE UNBIASED ABOUT HER MANAGEMENT OF THE PENSION GIVEN THAT STRONG TIE.

>> WE HAVE TO GIVE MS. PEARCE AN OPPORTUNITY TO RESPOND.

>> A COUPLE THINGS. MY STRONG SUPPORT CROSSES THE BROAD SPECTRUM OF EMPLOYEES AND CITIZENS AND BUSINESSMEN. DAVID COATES, ONE OF THE FOLKS THAT HAS ADVOCATED A DIFFERENT SOLUTION FOR PENSIONS, IS A STRONG SUPPORTER. BUSINESS FOLKS ARE STRONG SUPPORTERS. I HAVE A WIDE RANGE OF SUPPORT BECAUSE WE EMPHASIZE, AGAIN, PRUDENCE AND COLLABORATIVE PROBLEM-SOLVING. NOW, I AM BEHOLDING TO ONE GROUP, THE TAXPAYERS AND CITIZENS OF VERMONT. THE BOND RATING IS IMPORTANT TO ME AND WE DO HAVE FOUR DISCUSSIONS ABOUT THE BONDS AND WHERE WE'RE HEADED AND WENDY HAS NOT BEEN IN A STATE BOND RATING SESSION WITH THE RATING AGENCIES, SO SHE MAY NOT BE AWARE OF ALL THE ROLES THAT WE TAKE THERE, BUT THE BOTTOM LINE IS THAT THEY SEE US IN A FORWARD-LOOKING PERSPECTIVE. THEY SEE WHAT WE'RE DOING, THEY'RE PLEASED WITH WHAT WE'RE DOING. I DON'T WANT TO DO ANYTHING AS TREASURER THAT WOULD ADVERSELY IMPACT OUR TRIPLE-A BOND RATING. I'M COMMITTED TO THE CITIZENS AND TAXPAYERS OF VERMONT TO SAVE THEIR MONEY AND TO MAXIMIZE OUR RESOURCES. THAT'S MY COMMITMENT TO VERMONT.

>> I FEEL THAT I WILL PROVIDE INDEPENDENT LEADERSHIP THAT IS NEEDED IN THE TREASURER'S OFFICE. THIS INDEPENDENCE WAS ILLUSTRATED BY THE RECEIPT OF MY TREASURER OF THE YEAR AWARD BY THE VERMONT MUNICIPAL CLERKS AND TREASURERS ASSOCIATION FOR THE WORK I DID IN RUTLAND. IF I WERE NOT TRULY INDEPENDENT OF THE MAYOR AND THE BOARD OF ALDERMEN, THE STRIDES WE MADE IN RUTLAND WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ACCOMPLISHED. I BELIEVE THIS STATE NEEDS TRULY AN INDEPENDENT TREASURER WITH LEADERSHIP AND VISION, NOT JUST SOMEONE WHO IS LOOKING AT TODAY'S NUMBERS OR YESTERDAY'S NUMBERS, TO MOVE THE STATE FORWARD TO ENSURE THAT WE WOULD BE FINANCIALLY VIABLE, NOT JUST NOW BUT IN THE FUTURE.

>> AGAIN, I'M A NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED IN TERMS OF MY FINANCIAL SKILLS. I LOOK FORWARD TO CONTINUING TO MANAGE THE RESOURCES OF VERMONT TO MOVE US FORWARD, AND I'M A FIDUCIARY AND MY FIRST COMMITMENT IS TO THE CITIZENS AND TAXPAYERS OF VERMONT. I WAS RECENTLY --

>> WE JUST HAVE A FEW SECONDS LEFT.

>> I WAS RECENTLY IDENTIFIED AS ONE OF TEN TRAIL BLAZING WOMEN IN PUBLIC FINANCE BY A NATIONAL MAGAZINE. I SERVE ON THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF AUDITORS, COMPTROLLERS AND TREASURERS AND I SERVE ON THE PENSION COMMITTEE FOR THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE TREASURERS.

>> WE HAVE TO LEAVE IT THERE. I WANT TO THANK YOU BOTH FOR A VERY SPIRITED CONVERSATION. WENDY WILTON, REPUBLICAN RUNNING FOR TREASURER, BETH PEARCE, THE DEMOCRAT RUNNING FOR TREASURER. THANK YOU BOTH FOR BEING HERE.

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