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YCQM: November 3, 2013 - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

YCQM: November 3, 2013

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

HELLO, EVERYONE, THIS SUNDAY MORNING, WE ARE TALKING TO BRUCE LISMAN AND TOM PELHAM, CO-FOUNDERS OF THE POLITICAL ADVOCACY GROUP CAMPAIGN FOR VERMONT. THEY RECENTLY DECLARED THAT THE STATE BUDGET IS ABOUT TO HIT THE ROCKY SHORES OF FISCAL REALITY, CALLING IT A FISCAL SHIPWRECK. SO WHY? AND WHAT IS THIS GROUP HOPING TO ACCOMPLISH. BOTH MEN JOIN US NOW. THANKS FOR BEING HERE.

>> HELLO.

>> GLAD TO BE HERE.

>> BRUCE, LET'S START WITH YOU. YOU ARE A WEALTHY MAN. YOU HAVE BEEN PUMPING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS INTO CAMPAIGN VERMONT, NEARLY A MILLION; IS THAT CORRECT?

>> YES.

>> WHY?

>> WELL, ONE, I BELIEVE IN OUR CAUSE. AND, TWO, I BELIEVE THAT PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT US BELIEVE IN THIS CAUSE. WE ARE OF COURSE NON-PARTISAN, NOT CONNECTED TO ANY POLITICAL PARTY, CAN'T BE CO-OPTED BY ANYONE. WE ARE OFFERING ALTERNATIVE IDEAS, A DIFFERENT PATH. IF YOU LOOK AT ALL OF OUR IDEAS, WE OFFER A STRATEGIC PLAN FOR THE STATE. ONE THAT FOCUSES ON ECONOMIC PROSPERITY, A SHARED PROSPERITY, RISING INCOMES, MORE JOBS THAN THERE ARE PEOPLE TO FILL THEM, WHICH IS A GOOD THING LONG-TERM. WE'VE TALKED ABOUT EDUCATION, WE'VE TALKED ABOUT ENERGY, AND WE'VE ALSO TALKED ABOUT TRANSPARENCY. THAT'S THE ANECDOTE TO HIGH TAXES, BUT ALSO A WAY IT REENGAGE AND REINVENT GOVERNMENT.

>> YOU CLAIM THAT THIS IS REALLY A SORT OF NON-PARTISAN GROUP, BUT A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE SAID THAT THIS IS CLEARLY A CONSERVATIVE GROUP. YOU FOCUS ON CONSERVATIVE ISSUES. HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THAT, AND HOW DO YOU REFUTE THAT?

>> WELL, WE REFUTE IT BY SAYING SIMPLY NOT TRUE. I AM MERELY AN INDEPENDENT AT THIS STAGE, BUT A LONG-TIME DEMOCRAT. WITHIN OUR GROUP I THINK WE HAVE ALL RANGES, I WOULD SAY CENTER RIGHT TO CENTER LEFT. MOST PEOPLE TODAY ARE REALLY TALKING ABOUT THE BUSINESS OF POLITICS, AND I GUESS WE COULD HAVE GONE DOWN THAT PATH, DARREN, OF SUPPORTING CANDIDATES AND BECOMING A PAC. FIRST I WAS UNCOMFORTABLE WITH THE NOTION, CERTAINLY UNCOMFORTABLE WITH PACS AND SUPER PACS, AND I THOUGHT IN THIS ENVIRONMENT, WHAT WE NEEDED WAS A COMPLETELY NON-PARTISAN APPROACH. SO WE HAVE SKIN IN THE GAME, BUT IT IS NOT FOR US, AND I THOUGHT THIS MOMENT WHEN IN FACT POLITICS HAS TURNED INTO, IF YOU WILL, ITS OWN BAD NAME, OFFERING AN ALTERNATIVE PATH WOULD BE A BETTER WAY TO NOT ONLY ATTRACT SUPPORTERS, OF WHICH WE NOW HAVE MANY, BUT ALSO TO GET RESULTS IN MONTPELIER. WE AREN'T TRYING TO CHANGE WASHINGTON, WE AREN'T TRYING TO CHANGE THE WORLD, WE'RE FOCUS ON OUR STATE, THE STATE THAT TOM AND I AND OUR OTHER PARTNERS SIMPLY LOVE. AND WOULD LIKE TO SEE IT DO BETTER. SO WHEN WE STARTED, THERE WERE JUST THREE OF US. TWO OF US ARE HERE. AND WE STARTED WITH 24, 25 ORIGINAL PARTNER FOUNDERS. TODAY WE HAVE NEARLY A THOUSAND PARTNERS. 11,000 FACEBOOK "LIKES," ANOTHER VERSION OF A PARTNERSHIP, IF YOU WILL, AND IF YOU CAN PROJECT OUT A YEAR FROM NOW, WE COULD HAVE 25,000 FACEBOOK "LIKES" AND 2500, I SUPPOSE, PARTNERS, ALL OF WHICH SHOWS THAT THINGS WE ARE SAYING, THE CONTENT OF OUR IDEAS, ARE ATTRACTING ATTENTION AND SUPPORT. COMMUNITY SUPPORT. IF YOU LOOK THROUGH THE NAMES, MOST OF WHOM YOU WOULDN'T KNOW, THE POLITICS ARE PRETTY MUCH CENTER.

>> TOM PELHAM, YOU SERVED UNDER SEVERAL ADMINISTRATIONS, BUT WOULDN'T YOU AGREE THAT THE CAUSES AND THE IDEAS BEHIND CAMPAIGN VERMONT SEEM LIKE CONSERVATIVE ISSUES THAT YOU FOLKS ARE NOW --

>> I DON'T AGREE WITH THAT. I THINK THAT, FOR EXAMPLE, ON THE BUDGET, WE'RE ABSOLUTELY IN LINE WITH HOWARD DEAN, A DEMOCRAT. AS YOU RECALL, HE WAS CONSIDERED BY MANY DEMOCRATS IN THE LEGISLATURE AS A REPUBLICAN, AND KIND OF WORKED HIS POLICIES THROUGH THE LEGISLATURE BY WORKING WITH REPUBLICANS, AND BLUE DOG DEMOCRATS, MANY OF THE LIBERAL DEMOCRATS DIDN'T LIKE HIM, BUT, YOU KNOW, YOU THINK IF YOU LOOK -- I THINK IF YOU LOOK BACK AT HIS TERM, HE WAS RIGHT ON THE BUDGET AND PULLED THIS STATE OUT OF A TERRIBLE SITUATION FOLLOWING THE DEATH OF GOVERNOR SNELLING, STAYED THE SNELLING COURSE, KEPT THE SNELLING PEOPLE AROUND TO HELP SOLVE THE PROBLEM. CON HOGAN AND OTHERS, AND DID A GOOD THING BY THE STATE OF VERMONT. WHEN HE LEFT OUR BOND RATING WAS AS HIGH AS IT'S EVER BEEN, OUR PENSION FUNDS WERE FULL, OUR RAINY DAY FUNDS WERE FULL, AND TODAY, IF YOU LOOK AT THE HEADLINES, IT'S A LOT MORE CHAOTIC THAN THAT. PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT 50 TO $70 MILLION BUDGET GAPS, BETH PIERCE IS TALKING ABOUT GROSSLY UNDERFUNDED PENSIONS. WE'RE DOWN AROUND 71%. THE CAPITAL BILL IS LOOKING AT A 15 TO 32% CUT, AND THEN WE HAVE THIS HEALTHCARE UNKNOWN OUT THERE THAT'S ABOUT READY TO BE THROWN ON THE PILE. SO I LOOK BACK TO THE ERA BEFORE HOWARD DEAN, NOT ONLY BECAUSE HE WAS A WONDERFUL PERSON, BUT FISCAL ISSUES WERE NOT HER FORTE, AND SO WE STARTED THE 90s WITH A $65 MILLION DEFICIT THAT IT TOOK US UNTIL 199 7 TO SOLVE. AND SOLVING THOSE PROBLEMS IS A PAINFUL ENDEAVOR. IT IS TOUGH. IT JUST DOESN'T HAPPEN BY WISHFUL THINKING. FORTUNATELY, HOWARD DEAN WAS TOUGH IN THAT REGARD. SO I DON'T THINK WE'RE CONSERVATIVE, IF YOU READ OUR EDUCATION PAPERS, IF YOU READ OUR PAPER ON ENERGY POLICY, IF YOU READ OUR PAPERS ON TRANSPARENCY. THEY ARE PRETTY COMMON SENSE. SOME IN VERMONT WOULD LIKE TO LABEL US AS CONSERVATIVES, BUT VERMONT IS A PRETTY LEFT-WING STATE, SO, YOU KNOW, FOR ME AND MY POLITICS, I'VE WORKED FOR MIKE DUKAKIS, I WORKED FOR TIP O'NEIL IN MASSACHUSETTS, I AM A VERMONT NATIVE. AND HERE I HAVE -- WHEN I RAN FOR OFFICE SUCCESSFULLY, I RAN AS AN INDEPENDENT. I THINK POLITICS GETS IN THE WAY SOMETIMES OF GOOD PUBLIC POLICY, AND I THINK WE'RE IN ONE OF THOSE TIMES NOW.

>> WHY WAS THIS ORGANIZATION FOUNDED. I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE WONDERING WHAT IS REALLY BEHIND THIS GROUP.

>> WELL, THERE IS NOTHING BEHIND IT THAT WE HAVEN'T SPOKEN OF. WE STARTED BY SIMPLY INTRODUCING OURSELVES AS A NON-PARTISAN GROUP THAT HAD IDEAS FOR FREE, IF YOU WILL, AND WE HAVE RULED THEM OUT STEADILY AND ADVOCATED FOR THEM ON TELEVISION, ON RADIO, AND OF COURSE ONLINE, NOT ONLY TO TELL PEOPLE WHAT WE'RE DOING, BUT WHAT IT MEANS. OUR ENTIRE FOCUS HAS BEEN OUTSIDE OF MONTPELIER. THE NEXT STEP FOR US IS TO BE IN MONTPELIER. WE'VE SAID RECENTLY WE PLANNED TO BE ADVOCATES IN STATE HOUSE. WE PLAN TO BE THERE, AND ADVOCATE FOR IDEAS THAT WE THINK WORK. ALMOST CERTAINLY ONE OF THEM THAT WORKS IS I THINK A BABY STEP DOWN THE PATH OF TRANSPARENCY WHICH IS ALL AROUND ETHICS AND WE ARE ONE OF JUST VERY FEW NUMBER OF STATES THAT HAVE NOTHING ON THE BOOKS ABOUT ETHICS, HOW PEOPLE SHOULD BEHAVE, WHAT MODULATES THEIR BEHAVIOR. MOST STATES HAVE AN ETHICS PANEL, MOST STATES HAVE CONFLICT OF INTEREST FORMS, AN OBLIGATION TO DISCLOSE. MOST STATES HAVE A REQUIREMENT FOR FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE FOR THOSE WHO WOULD RUN FOR STATEWIDE OFFICE. HERE WE HAVE NONE OF THOSE, AND THOUGH WE'RE NOT SAYING ANYONE BEHAVES BADLY, MOST LAWS ARE DESIGNED TO PROTECT THOSE WHO DON'T BREAK LAWS FROM THE FEW WHO DO, AND FOR THE FEW 0 MIGHT TAKE ADVANTAGE OF POSITION. IT SETS THE STAGE FOR I THINK A BIGGER PACKAGE OF TRANSPARENCY. SO OUR NEXT STEP, NOT THE LAST STEP, THE NEXT STEP IS ADVOCACY IN MONTPELIER.

>> I WANT TO POINT OUT THAT, YOU KNOW, SOME OF THE MONEY THAT WE TALKED ABOUT, THE NEWLY MILLION DOLLARS HAS BEEN SPENT ON TELEVISION ADS, INCLUDING ADS THAT AIR HERE ON WCAX TV. LET'S LISTEN TO THE LATEST AD RUNNING.

>> TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. WE CAN MAKE VERMONT MORE AFFORDABLE.

>> CREATE MORE JOBS.

>> AND HELP FAMILIES BE MORE SECURE.

>> WE CAN HAVE THE BEST EDUCATION SYSTEM.

>> INSPIRE INNOVATION.

>> AND GET YOUNG VERMONTERS MORE OPPORTUNITIES.

>> WE CAN BUILD AN ECONOMY WHERE EVERYONE CAN PROSPER.

>> WHERE NO ONE IS LEFT BEHIND.

>> AND WHERE EVERYONE HAS HOPE AND OPPORTUNITY.

>> CHANGE, THAT'S OUR MISSION. LEND YOUR NAME AT CAMPAIGN FOR VERMONT.ORG.

>> A LOT OF FOLKS PROBABLY HAVE SEEN THAT AD.

>> I HOPE SO.

>> I TALK ABOUT CHANGE. WHAT IS THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE?

>> WELL, WE WOULD LIKE A CHANGE IN MONTPELIER, NOT THE PEOPLE. THE PEOPLE THAT HAVE BEEN ELECTED. WE WOULD LIKE TO CHANGE SOME OF THE IDEAS THEY FOCUS ON. WE WOULD LIKE TO HIGHLIGHT THE THEMES THAT WE THINK ARE IMPORTANT FOR THE LONG-TERM HEALTH OF VERMONTERS AND ITS ECONOMY. AND SO THAT AD, WHICH I KIND OF LIKE WATCHING IT HERE WITH YOU, IS UPBEAT, IT MERELY SAYS WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE STAND FOR, BUT ISN'T UNLIKE OUR FIRST SET OF ADS THAT WE DID ON RADIO OR ONLINE ADS. THE NEXT ONES WILL BE MORE POINTED, MORE DIRECTED. IT'S DESIGNED TO TELL PEOPLE THAT WE HAVE GOOD IDEAS. COME ON INTO OUR WEBSITE AND TAKE A LOOK AT THEM, OR GO TO A COMMUNITY FORUM, OR WHEREVER YOU WILL FIND OUR IDEAS. BUT TOM IS EXACTLY RIGHT, OUR PIECE ON EDUCATION I THINK WAS REALLY QUITE EXCEPTIONAL, BECAUSE IT LINKED NOT JUST THE NOTION OF THE QUALITY OF EDUCATION, BUT RATHER A COMPARISON TO BIGGER WORLD, AND ALONGSIDE THAT WE SAID, AND THE WAY WE FINANCE IT OUGHT TO BE RECONSIDERED. WE DON'T THINK WE HAVE THE ONLY IDEA IN TOWN, BUT WE THINK WE HAVE GOOD IDEAS AND WE WOULD LIKE TO ENGAGE YOU AND OTHERS IN A DEBATE THAT LEADS US DOWN A PATH OF SOME CONSTRUCTIVE CHANGE.

>> TOM PELHAM, LET'S TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE MORE POINTED IDEAS. WHAT CAN WE EXPECT, THEN, IF THESE ARE SORT OF BROAD STROKES AT THIS POINT SAYING WE WANT CHANGE, YOU KNOW, WE WANT THINGS DIFFERENTLY -- DONE DIFFERENTLY HERE IN VERMONT, ONE OF THE MORE POINTED ISSUES THAT YOU FOLKS ARE GOING -- WHAT ARE THE POINTED ISSUES?

>> I THINK THAT IS A VIEW THAT ISN'T REFLECTED IN OUR DETAILED POLICY PAPERS. I MEAN, WE GET NITTY-GRITTY ON EDUCATION, ON ENERGY POLICY, ON THE BUDGET, ON RAISING ALARMS ABOUT, YOU KNOW, WHERE THE STATE BUDGET IS NOW. AND I THINK ALL OF THIS GOES BACK TO, I MEAN, BRUCE IS A NATIVE VERMONTER, I AM A NATIVE VERMONTER. WE CARE ABOUT THIS STATE, AND I THINK BOTH OF US FEEL THAT SOMEHOW POLITICS HAS BECOME MORE DOMINANT IN VERMONT, AND IS GETTING IN THE WAY OF PEOPLE WORKING TOGETHER TO SOLVE PROBLEMS. AND THEREFORE PROBLEMS DON'T GET SOLVED. HERE ON THE MOST RECENT PIECE ABOUT THE STATE BUDGET, WE'RE VERY SPECIFIC ABOUT STATE SPENDING, PROBLEMS WITH THE PENSION FUNDS, PROBLEMS WITH THE CAPITAL BILL, PROBLEMS WITH EDUCATION FUNDING, YOU KNOW, WE SPEND MORE THAN -- AND DOCUMENT IT VERY WELL IN OUR EDUCATION PAPER, MORE THAN ANY OTHER STATE ON A PER PEOPLE BASIS -- PER PUPIL BASIS. ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS ON A PER PUPIL BASIS. SCHOOL DISTRICTS ON A PER PUPIL BASIS, SO THAT MONEY CAN GET ABSORBED IN A DEMOCRACY WHERE THAT MONEY CAN BE BETTER USED IN THE CLASSROOM. WE HAVE VERY SPECIFIC PROPOSALS ABOUT THAT. AND AS BRUCE SAID, WE HAVE BEEN WORKING KIND OF OUTSIDE THE MONTPELIER BUILDING, A GROUP OF PEOPLE HAVE AT THAT SAME KIND OF AFFECTION FOR VERMONT, LOVE VERMONT, BUT FEEL THAT THINGS ARE NOT GOING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. AND AS WE MOVE FORWARD, WE WILL BE WORKING MORE IN MONTPELIER TO TRY TO HAVE AN EFFECT ON THE DECISIONS THAT OUR LEADERS MAKE.

>>> YOU CALLED THIS A FISCAL SHIPWRECK. HOW DO YOU BACK THAT UP?

>> WELL, I BACK IT UP BY HAVING BEEN THROUGH ONE. I HAVE SEEN IT, BEEN THERE, DONE THAT. YOU KNOW, I WAS THE FINANCE COMMISSIONER FOR MOST OF HOWARD DEAN'S ADMINISTRATION THAT LED THE RECOVERY OUT OF WHAT WAS A SHIPWRECK BACK THEN. AND KEEP IN MIND, FOR EXAMPLE, THAT, YOU KNOW, AFTER THE PERIOD WHERE SHE LEFT OFFICE AND THE STATE HAD A $65 MILLION DEFICIT, WHICH WAS 10% OF THE OPERATING BUDGET, OUR BOND RATING WAS QUITE HIGH. IT IS ONLY A WALL STREET KIND OF FOLLOWS, YOU KNOW, AFTER THE FACT TO KIND OF SAY, OOH, THINGS AREN'T GOING THAT WELL THERE. WE HAVE THE MAKINGS OF A PROBLEM NOW. WE DO NOT HAVE THE PENSION FUNDS TODAY FUNDED AT THE LEVELS THAT THEY WERE WHEN I LEFT OFFICE AS FINANCE COMMISSIONER. THE CAPITAL BILL, IF YOU READ THE DEBT AFFORDABILITY COMMITTEE IS LOOKING FOR 15 TO 37% CUT IN ORDER TO STAY IN LINE WITH BOND RATING AGENCY STANDARDS. LOOK AT THE FRONT PAGE OF THE PAPERS TODAY, AND THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT A 55 TO $70 MILLION OPERATING DEFICIT IN THE GENERAL FUND. THAT'S HUGE. I MEAN, THAT'S LIKE 5 OR 6%. AND THAT'S EVEN BEFORE THEY GET INTO INCREASES. NOW, I BELIEVE THAT THIS COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED. I BELIEVE THAT DURING THE FISCAL CRISIS THE STATE HAD ALMOST A BILLION DOLLARS WORTH OF FEDERAL MONEY WHICH CUSHIONED THE MOST VULNERABLE DURING THE RECESSION, BUT THAT TIME SHOULD HAVE BEEN ALSO USED TO FOLLOW THROUGH WITH PROGRAMS LIKE CHALLENGE FOR CHANGE, AND OTHERS, WHERE GOVERNMENT REFORMS. I'M SURE WHEN WE WENT THROUGH THIS RECESSION, CAX DID SOME REFORMS. PROBABLY YOUR ADVERTISING DROPPED, PEOPLE DIDN'T HAVE THE MONEY FOR ADVERTISING, YOU HAD TO MAKE CHANGES HERE. FAMILIES IN VERMONT HAD TO MAKE CHANGES. THE STATE GOVERNMENT DIDN'T MAKE CHANGES, THEY USED THAT FEDERAL MONEY TO JUST SUSTAIN THE STATUS QUO, AND ACTUALLY TO GROW STATE SPENDING, NOW THAT THAT ONE-TIME FEDERAL MONEY IS GONE, WE ARE KIND OF OUT HERE ON A LEDGE, AND SO WE THINK PEOPLE SHOULD UNDERSTAND THAT, AND SHOULD TRY TO CAJOLE AND WORK WITH OUR LEADERS TO CHANGE COURSE.

>> I WANT TO GET BACK TO THE BOND RATING FOR JUST A SECOND. YOU BASICALLY LAID OUT THAT OUR BOND RATING IS AT RISK, BUT CORRECT ME IF I'M WRONG, BUT I THOUGHT THAT THE LAST TIME AROUND THE THINGS HAD IMPROVED AND IT WAS A POSITIVE BOND RATING, CORRECT?

>> THAT'S TRUE, IT IS NOT A POSITIVE BOND RATING, IT IS STILL DOUBLE A PLUS BUT WITH A POSITIVE OUTLOOK. THAT DOESN'T AFFECT THE RATING, IT JUST SAYS --

>> THINGS LOOK GOOD IF THEY CONTINUE AS THEY ARE.

>> RIGHT. BUT THERE IS AN"IF" THERE. THE IF ON THE S & P BOND RATING WHERE THE POSITIVE WAS, WAS IF WE IMPROVE OUR FUNDING OF PENSIONS, AND IF WE INCREASE OUR BUDGET STABILIZATION RESERVE. NEITHER OF THOSE HAVE BEEN DONE. YEAR OVER YEAR, THE RECENT YEARS, OUR PENSION FUNDING LEVEL HAS GONE DOWN. YOU'VE SEEN BETH PIERCE TELL THE LEGISLATURE THE OTHER DAY THAT OUR PENSIONS ARE AT A TIPPING POINT, AND GOVERNOR SHUMLIN HAD PROPOSED RAISING OUR RAINY DAY FUND TO 8% AS S & P WOULD HAVE LIKED TO HAVE SEEN, BUT THAT NEVER HAPPENED. SO, YOU KNOW, AND THEN STILL ON TOP OF ALL OF THIS IS THIS HEALTHCARE NUGGET THAT IS GOING TO HIT THE STREETS WITHIN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS, AND, YOU KNOW, HOWARD DEAN MADE A POINT, HE OFTEN SAID THAT SOCIAL JUSTICE CAN ONLY BE DONE WHEN YOU HAVE A BALANCED BUDGET. AND OUR BUDGET IS NOT BALANCED. IT IS STRUCTURALLY OUT OF BALANCE. IN ORDER TO DO GOOD THINGS FOR VERMONTERS, WE NEED TO RECLAIM A MORE STEADY STATE ON OUR FISCAL FUND.

>>> THE SECRETARY OF ADMINISTRATION JEB SPAULDING RESPONDED TO YOUR RECENT REPORT IN VERMONT DIGGER, AND THIS IS WHAT HE HAD TO SAY. THE SHUMLIN ADMINISTRATION HAS MADE TOUGH AND RESPONSIBLE BUDGET CHOICES EVEN WHILE IT HAS MET CONSIDERABLE CHALLENGES SUCH AS THE DAMAGE FROM TROPICAL STORM IRENE, A SLOW ECONOMIC RECOVERY, THE END OF FEDERAL STIMULUS DOLLARS FROM THE GREAT RECESSION, AND CONTINUED DYSFUNCTION IN WASHINGTON, DC. ADMINISTRATION LEADERS ARE BEING ASKED BY GOVERNOR SHUMLIN TO WORK ACROSS AGENCIES TO MAKE STATE GOVERNMENT WORK BETTER BY INCREASING EFFICIENCY AND REDUCING WASTE. ALL THE WHILE GOVERNOR SHUMLIN HAS FOUGHT OFF LEGISLATIVE EFFORTS TO RAISE TAXES, THWART GENERAL FUND SPENDING. PELHAM'S PRESCRIPTION FOR OUR CLAIMED ROADS BOILS DOWN TO THE FAMILIAR REMEDIES HE HAS PROMOTED FOR YEARS: CUTTING GOVERNMENT SERVICES, SHIFTING RESPONSIBILITIES TO OTHERS, AND COMING UP WITH GILL -- GIMMICKS THAT SOUND PROMISING BUT USUALLY DON'T WORK. HE CALLED IT GIMMICKS. WHAT DO YOU SAY?

>> I DO SAY THAT I WAS VERMONT'S FINANCE COMMISSIONER FOR ALMOST A DECADE, AND I DID WELL. WE DIDN'T DO IT BY GIMMICKS. WE DID IT BY HARD WORK, WORKING WITH STATE EMPLOYEES, SOMETIMES WORKING WITH NON-PROFIT GROUPS AND OTHERS TO KIND OF PUSH US BACK TO A STEADY STATE. SO, YOU KNOW, ALL I CAN SAY IS I SEE WHAT JEB WROTE, BUT I ALSO LOOK AT WHAT IS REAL ON THE FRONT PAGES OF THE PAPERS TODAY, AND WE'RE TALKING 50 TO $70 MILLION DEFICITS. THE HEAD OF THE JOINT FISCAL OFFICE, STEVE CLINE, CALLING THAT THE NEW NORMAL. I MEAN, CAN YOU IMAGINE ME WALKING INTO HOWARD DEAN'S OFFICE AND SAYING, GOVERNOR, THE NEW NORMAL IS A 50 TO $70 MILLION DEFICIT? BECAUSE WE'VE HAD THESE DEFICITS EVERY YEAR AND STEVE CLINE IS LOOKING PROPERLY TO THE FUTURE. I HEAR WHAT IS BEING SAID, BUT OUR PENSION FUNDS, FUNDING LEVELS ARE DID HE CLIMBING -- DEKLEINING -- DECLINING, WE HAD HOLES IN THE EDUCATION FUND. AT ONE TIME $20 MILLION WAS USED TO SUPPORT EDUCATION FUNDING. THAT HAS TO BE MADE UP THIS YEAR. SO WHEN YOU TAKE THESE ALL TOGETHER, AND THAT'S WHAT MY PAPER DID, IS LOOK AT ALL OF THEM, CAPITAL DEBT, EDUCATION, PENSION FUNDING, HEALTHCARE, THE STATE BUDGET, AND THE AGGREGATE OF THOSE IS UNDOUBTEDLY -- UNARGUABLY PROBLEMATIC, AND NOT CONSISTENT WITH JEB'S DESCRIPTION OF WHERE WE ARE.

>> GENTLEMEN, WE NEED TO TAKE A BRIEF BREAK. WE WILL BE BACK R IGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIGIG

>>> WELCOME BACK, EVERYONE. TOM PELHAM, YOU WANTED TO MAKE ANOTHER POINT ABOUT OUR BUDGET DISCUSSION BEFORE WE WENT TO BREAK.

>> WELL, I KNOW ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS THAT JEB SAID IN HIS SECRETARY SPAULDING SAID IN HIS OP-ED PIECE THAT WE'RE PROPOSING TO CUT THE BUDGET. AND THAT'S NOT WHAT WE SAID. WE SAID THAT WE NEED TO GET BACK ON A COURSE OF MODERATE GROWTH. AND, YOU KNOW, I WILL JUST GIVE YOU SOME CONTEXT. OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS THE BUDGET HAS GROWN AT ABOUT A 4.2% RATE A YEAR. VERMONT'S ECONOMY IS NOT GROWING AT 4.2%, BUT IF THE BUDGET HAD GROWN, AND IF OUR LEADERS HAD GREW THE BUDGET, BECAUSE IT IS IN THEIR POWER TO MANAGE THIS, AT ONLY 3 1/2%, WE WOULD BE SPENDING $188 MILLION LESS. AND WITH THAT $188 MILLION WE WOULDN'T BE HAVING THE KINDS OF PROBLEMS THAT WE HAVE TODAY. AND CERTAINLY IN STATE GOVERNMENT A 5.2 BILLION ENTERPRISE, $188 MILLION IN SAVINGS COULD BE FOUND OVER THE LAST FOUR, FIVE YEARS IF FOLKS HAD BEEN DEDICATED TO IT. BUT THEY WEREN'T DEDICATED TO IT. THEY HAD THE FEDERAL MONEY, IT WAS ONE-TIME MONEY, THEY SPENT IT, THEY GREW THE BUDGET, AND NOW AS WE SAY IN THE PAPER, THEY HAVE BEEN KICKING THE CAN DOWN THE ROAD, AND THEY ARE AT THE END OF THE ROAD NOW.

>> WELL, SECRETARY SPAULDING ALSO HAD POINTED OUT IN THE COMMENTARY THAT HE SAID YOU, HE POINTS TO YOU, SAYING THAT YOU HAD URGED LAWMAKERS AT ONE POINT NOT TO FUND PENSIONS. HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THAT?

>> VERY EASILY. I RESPOND TO IT DIRECTLY TO HIS ARTICLE. WHEN I LEFT OFFICE, THE STATE EMPLOYEES' PENSION FUND WAS 91% FUNDED, AND THE TEACHERS WAS 88% FUNDED. TODAY, THE STATE EMPLOYEES ARE 71% FUNDED AND THE TEACHERS IS DOWN AROUND 61%. SO, YOU KNOW -- AND AFTER I LEFT, A MONTH AFTER I LEFT BASED ON THE WORK THAT THE DEAN ADMINISTRATION DID, OUR BOND RATING WENT UP TO DOUBLE-A PLUS, AND THAT'S WHERE IT IS STILL AT. SO, YOU KNOW -- I THINK THIS IS JUST A LITTLE BIT OF MUD-THROWING THERE, HOPING SOME OF IT WILL STICK. I AM NOT GOING TO BUY IT.

>> BRUCE LISMAN, YOU SAID YOU WILL BE ADVOCATEING IN THE STATE HOUSE THIS UPCOMING LEGISLATIVE SESSION. WHAT CAN WE EXPECT TO HEAR FROM YOU?

>> WE MIGHT TALK ABOUT AN ETHICS PACKAGE AND TRY TO FIND COMMON GROUND WITH LEGISLATORS, AND IT IS REALLY HARD TO ARGUE AGAINST SOMETHING LIKE THAT IF YOU DO A CASUAL SURVEY AT YOUR LOCAL DINER OR RESTAURANT, NEARLY EVERYONE YOU CAN WILL THINK THAT WE ALREADY HAVE ALL THIS ON THE BOOKS, AND THEY ARE ALWAYS SURPRISED THAT WE DON'T. ITS A SMALL, IN MY OPINION, A SMALL FIRST STEP TOWARDS SPEAKING TO BIGGER TRANS PARENTS KRI ISSUES -- TRANSPARENCY ISSUES. WE ARE REALLY PLEASED WHEN WE HEAR PERFORMANCE OF RELATED BUDGETING. SO WE'VE HEARD IT IN THE LAST TWO WEEKS FROM THE ADMINISTRATION, AND ANOTHER VERSION OF IT IN THE LEGISLATURE. WE'RE PLEASED BECAUSE THAT WAS ONE OF THE FIRST ISSUES, MAYBE THE FIRST ISSUE WE BEGAN WITH EVEN BEFORE CAMPAIGN FOR VERMONT WAS FORMALLY ORGANIZED, AND LARGELY TODAY IT'S BEEN -- BECOME AT LEAST PART OF THE GENERAL CONVERSATION. YOU WOULDN'T BUY A CAR WITHOUT AT LEAST GIVING IT SOME THOUGHT. AFTERWARDS DETERMINING IF YOU ACTUALLY MADE A GOOD PURCHASE. THAT'S A CAR PURCHASE, THAT'S WHAT WE DO, WITH A COFFEE MUG OR WHATEVER. WE'RE TALKING ABOUT $5 BILLION PLUS. THERE HASN'T BEEN A LOT OF THOUGHT OVER THE YEARS HOW WELL IT'S BEEN SPENT. SO WE'RE PLEASED, AND WE THINK SOME OF OUR INFLUENCE HAS BEEN INJECTED INTO THIS, AND SO THE THINKING LIKE THAT, WE HAVE MORE TO GO.

>> I CAN'T LET YOU GO WITHOUT ASKING YOU ABOUT THIS. THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF SPECULATION THAT THIS CAMPAIGN FOR VERMONT COULD BE JUST A LAUNCHING PAD FOR HIGHER OFFICE --

>> I HAVE NEVER HEARD THAT.

>> RIGHT? SURPRISING.

>> SHOCKING QUESTION.

>> SOMEONE IN THIS ORGANIZATION, MOST PEOPLE HAVE BEEN POINTING AT YOU, ARE YOU PLANNING TO SEEK HIGHER OFFICE?

>> I LIKE WHAT WE'RE DOING RIGHT NOW. WHAT I AM BEGS AT IS RUNNING -- BEST AT IS RUNNING A CAMPAIGN FOR VERMONT, AND THAT'S WHERE I PLAN TO STAY, AT LEAST AROUND THE POLICY ISSUES. NO PLANS TO RUN FOR ANY OFFICE.

>> HOW ABOUT YOU, MR. PELHAM?

>> NO PLANS. I MEAN, I HAVE RAN FOR OFFICES INDEPENDENT, I WON. MY CONCERN, AND I KNOW IT'S BRUCE'S, WE ARE BOTH NATIVE VERMONTERS. I WAS A COUNTRY MOUSE, HE WAS A CITY MOUSE, AND WE'VE JUST, YOU KNOW, VERMONT HAS ITS HOOKS IN US, AND SO WHEN WE FIRST ANNOUNCE CAMPAIGN VERMONT, ONE OF THE POLITICAL PARTIES IN MONTPELIER WENT TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL AND SAID, OH, THEY ARE A POLITICAL ADVOCACY GROUP, VIOLATING OUR NON-PROFIT STATUS. AND THEY THREW IT OUT WITHIN A COUPLE DAYS. WE CARE ABOUT VERMONT, AND SOME PEOPLE CAN ONLY SEE THINGS THROUGH A POLITICAL PARADIGM, THAT'S THE WAY THEY VIEW THE WORLD, THEY WILL ALWAYS VIEW THE WORLD THAT WAY, BUT, YOU KNOW, NO.

>> NO FROM YOU. BUT REALLY YOU DIDN'T SAY FOR CERTAIN --

>> I THOUGHT I SAID NO. AND I WILL SAY NO, WE ARE NOT RUNNING FOR HIGHER OFFICE.

>> ZERO PLANS FOR THAT.

>> OKAY. PUBLIC MEETINGS UPCOMING INVOLVING CAMPAIGN FOR VERMONT, WHAT ARE WE GOING TO SEE FROM YOU FOLKS?

>> WELL, WE HAVE A COMMUNITY FORUMS, WHERE WE HAVE TERRIFIC PANELISTS FROM THE COMMUNITY TALKING ABOUT THEIR COMMUNITY AND THE CHALLENGES THE COMMUNITY MIGHT FACE FOR THE BIGGER COMMUNITY, ADD ADMISSION OF COURSE IS FREE. WE ARE MIXED UP IN WINOOSKI, AND OF COURSE WE SERVE SOME BASIC FOOD. YOU WILL BE HAPPY TO KNOW IT IS ALL GOOD FOR YOU. THE IMPORTANT THING FOR CAMPAIGN VERMONT IS THAT MOST OF OUR IDEAS, MOST OF OUR REALLY INTERESTING IDEAS HAVE THEIR ORIGINS IN THE PEOPLE WE MET. WHETHER IT WAS ROTARY OR POLITICAL CLUBS, OR SIMPLY SMALL GROUPS OF PEOPLE GETTING TOGETHER, PEOPLE THAT TOM WOULD MEET OR I WOULD MEET OR SOME OF OTHER -- OUR OTHER PARTNERS. WHAT WE HEARD WERE JUST TERRIFIC COMMENTS AND IDEAS. SOME YOU'VE HEARD BEFORE, AND SOMETIMES THEY HAVE BEEN PROPOSED DIFFERENT FORMS OF LEGISLATION AND EVEN DIFFERENT DECADES, BUT IN ALL CASES WE'VE GOTTEN OUR IDEAS, AND THE THINGS BEHIND THOSE IDEAS, FROM PEOPLE WE MEET. AND THAT'S WHY FORUMS ARE GOOD. SPEAKING TO ROTARY OR HAVING LUNCH WITH PEOPLE, ARE REALLY GREAT WAYS TO UNDERSTAND THE TRUE DYNAMICS AND CHALLENGES PEOPLE FACE.

>> I SUSPECT THAT PEOPLE CAN FIND A LINK TO WHERE THESE --

>> CAMPAIGN FOR VERMONT.ORG. WE HAVE A ROBUST WEBSITE.

>> I WILL ADD TO WHAT BRUCE SAID. WHAT I FOUND IS THAT PEOPLE LOVE VERMONT. PEOPLE LOVE VERMONT, BUT THEY DON'T WANT TO GET ENGAGED IN THE POLITICAL PARTY STUFF, BECAUSE THAT'S JUST BECOME TAINTED AND IT'S TOO STRUCTURED AND TOO TOP-DOWN AND TOO ORGANIZED. WE ARE A BOTTOM-UP ORGANIZATION, AND WE'RE GROWING OURSELVES THAT WAY, AND WE'RE VERY PLEASED WITH, YOU KNOW, OUR FACEBOOK PAGE, THE NUMBER OF PARTNERS. THESE ARE PEOPLE THAT SIGN THEIR NAME AND ARE NOW ACTIVELY ASSOCIATED WITH CAMPAIGN FOR VERMONT. AND IT'S BECAUSE WE'RE NON-PARTISAN, PEOPLE JUST, YOU KNOW, SOME PEOPLE LOVE THE DEMOCRAT VERSUS REPUBLICAN VERSUS PROGRESSIVE DYNAMICS, YOU KNOW, BUT I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE THINK THERE'S A LOT OF WASTED EFFORT IN THAT AS WELL. SO WE'RE JUST TRYING TO BE A PLACE FOR PEOPLE TO COME WHO LOVE VERMONT.

>> YES -- GENTLEMEN, WE HAVE TO LEAVE IT THERE. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US THIS MORNING.

>> THANK YOU.

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