RUTLAND â€“ Republican Wendy Wilton, a former state senator from Rutland County and current treasurer for the City of Rutland, hopes voters will elect her as the next state treasurer.
Wilton faces off against incumbent Democrat Beth Pearce of Barre City and Progressive Don Schramm of Burlington in the November election. All candidates are running unopposed in their respective parties.
Wilton, a University of Vermont graduate, is a mother of two college age children. She is very concerned about the stateâ€™s fiscal future and the younger generation.
â€śIf we do not achieve a sustainable fiscal state, we will not have a future for our kids and grandkids,â€ť she said. â€śIâ€™m really worried about that.â€ť
Rutland voters elected Wilton as their treasurer over five years ago. At the time of that election, the city had financial problems that included a $5.5 million deficit. Wilton turned the deficit around; there is now a surplus. The city also had its first clean audit in 32 years.
â€śIâ€™ve seen what an unsustainable government looks like, what it feels like and what itâ€™s like to work in an unsustainable government," Wilton said. â€śItâ€™s really tough. We were able to move forward and turn it around.â€ť
Wilton used three components to help with Rutlandâ€™s financial situation: independence, transparency and accountability.
As an independently elected treasurer in Rutland, Wilton is able to hold her position on matters of compliance in a way someone of who is appointed cannot; she is not beholden to the governing body or official, Wilton said.
Wilton made sure the governing body of the city, the management of the city and the public knew the fiscal truth about where the city stood, she said, stressing the importance of transparency.
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group issued Vermont a D- as far as fiscal transparency is concerned, Wilton said. She also said that the legislature doesnâ€™t have a handle on current financial information nor does it know where to find the previous yearâ€™s fiscal information.
Transparency also leads to Wiltonâ€™s third point, which is accountability. There needs to be a dialog between the public, the media and lawmakers about where the state needs to go.
Wilton said that 40 percent of the stateâ€™s revenue comes from federal dollars and she is worried that Washington lawmakers might have no choice but to cut aid to the states. Some possible cuts could be in Medicaid, assistance to farmers, or economical development initiatives.
â€śIf weâ€™re depending on 40 percent of our revenues from federal sources, we need to prepare for that eventuality,â€ť said Wilton. â€śWe have not done that.â€ť
There are some budgets within state government that are unsustainable, Wilton said. The Health and Human Services budget has increased six to seven percent per year for the last three or four years, which she feels is too much when the rate of inflation for the same time period has been about three percent.
â€śWeâ€™re not matching the coming fiscal reality with how weâ€™re budgeting, and thatâ€™s disconcerting,â€ť said Wilton. â€śIt is the decision of the legislature to make those decisions. If you had transparency coming out of the treasurerâ€™s office, I believe there would be support and assistance to match up their actions to the fiscal reality and a projection scenario.â€ť
Last year the state balanced the general fund budget on reducing the transfer to the education fund.
â€śIn effect, what we did was we balanced the general fund budget on the backs of the property taxpayer,â€ť she said. â€śWe reduced that transfer to the education fund so we shorted it by about $27 million. That tells you the general fund is unsustainable that they had to go that level to do that.â€ť