Tag Archives: Beth Pearce

Lawmakers look to retirement bonuses to save the state money

MONTPELIER — The Shumlin administration has proposed a retirement incentive package for state employees that could save the state $2.5 million, providing most of the retirees are not replaced.

Monday morning, the Senate Appropriations Committee reviewed a proposal that would offer financial bonus to as many as 300 employees who are already eligible to retire, with the goal of leaving 75 percent of those positions vacant after the employees retire.

The offer would be open to employees who are at least 62 years old and have put in at least 5 years of service; employees with at least 30 years of service; and employees whose age and years of service totals 87 or more.

The proposal would pay employees who have worked at least 5 years and less than 15 years a bonus of $750 for every year worked. Employees who have 15 or more years would receive $1,000 for every year worked.

Bonuses would be capped at $15,000 per employee and would be paid out either in one lump sum or in two payments, with no additional money for employees who choose to take two payments.

Currently, there are 915 state employees who are eligible for the incentives. The proposal would cap the maximum number of people who could take advantage of the incentives at 300. If more than 300 workers want to take the retirement bonus, the state will hold a lottery.

Committee Chairwoman Jane Kitchel, D-Caledonia, asked why the offer isn’t being made to employees who have been with the state the longest. Sec. of Administration Justin Johnson said the state needs to be very careful not to give the appearance of engaging in any behavior that could be construed as age discrimination.

Sen. Richard McCormack, D-Windsor, questioned the message some people might take from a proposal that ultimately looks to reduce the state’s work force by as many as 225 employees.

“Are we assuming their work was not being done efficiently?” McCormack asked. ““Either we’re saying these people weren’t pulling their weight in the first place, or their work was not essential.”

The retirement proposal is part of a plan by administration to save $10.8 million in state employee costs, one possible step to close the state’s $113 million budget gap. Shumlin has proposed reopening the state employee contract for renegotiation, a move opposed by the employees’ union.

The administration has warned that failing to reopen the contract could result in hundreds of layoffs, but on Monday, Johnson said that is not what the administration wants.

“It’s important that we don’t do across-the-board cookie-cutter cuts,” Johnson said.

Steve Howard, executive director of the Vermont State Employees Association, said the proposal — which could reduce the number of employee layoffs to fewer than 50 — has the support of his organization..

“We brought the issue of voluntary retirement incentives to the table for negotiation with the Shumlin administration,” Howard said. “While were not thrilled that we might see 300 fewer positions, we like the idea that this might result in fewer (layoffs).”

State Treasurer Beth Pearce warned that savings from offering retirement bonuses will only be found with a commitment to leave unfilled the positions vacated by the retiring employees.

In 2009, the state offered retirement bonuses to employees under a system that Johnson said “mirrors” the current proposal. A total of 243 people took advantage of the incentives.

However, that proposal was coupled with the plan to leave one-third — or 81 — of the positions unfilled. Instead, during the next four years, the state added 543 positions, according to Pearce.

Sen. Diane Snelling, R-Chittenden, referred to the 2009 round of retirements as “disruptive.”

“Will we ever get to the point when we have the right number of employees in the right places?” Snelling asked.

In victory speech, Beth Pearce celebrates defeat over super PAC-backed foe

In one of the more boisterous victory speeches tonight, incumbent Democratic Treasurer Beth Pearce celebrated a win in one of the most closely watched races of the 2012 campaign.

Pearce a short time ago received a call from Republican challenger Wendy Wilton conceding the race. Pearce, a former seven-year deputy treasurer appointed to the post when Jeb Spaulding resigned to join the Shumlin administration, thanks her “Vermont family” for delivering her a victory Tuesday.

The race was viewed in some circles as a referendum on super PACs. The conservative super PAC Vermonters First poured about $800,000 in the 2012 elections, much of it on behalf of Wilton.

The super PAC lost,” Pearce said. “Vermonters won.”

Democrats reach out to 143,000 voters in four days, say ground game will be difference

A ferocious ground game over the past four days has the chairman of the Vermont Democratic Party feeling confident this evening about his party’s prospects in the two lone races over which Democrats had been sweating.

Volunteers have given up more than 3,000 hours of their time since Friday to make calls on behalf of incumbent treasurer Beth Pearce and candidate for auditor Doug Hoffer. Perkins says volunteers and VDP staff made 13,000call attempts to voters during that time period, bringing the total for the cycle to a pretty astounding 450,000.

And that doesn’t include any robo-calls,” VDP communications director Ari Wengroff says.

Perkinson said polling data from earlier in the cycle is “pretty stale” at this point, but that he expects the field organziation and aggressive campaigning from Pearce to have increased the small lead she held over Republican Wendy Wilton when the survey was conducted.

I haven’t seen anything that would diminish the appeal of Beth Pearce, and I think in the last two weeks she came out strong and pointed out some deficiencies in her opponent,” Perkinson said. “Her profile has increased in a positive way, so I think the lead she had in the polls, especially when identified as a Democrat, is likely to carry through to tonight.”

Given the strength of the Democrat’s ground game, Perkinson thinks the ‘D’ next to Hoffer’s name will help him out as well. Hoffer faces off against a 32-year veteran of the Vermont Senate in Republican Vince Illuzzi, who swept the newspaper endorsements and was generally regarded as an all-around better campaigner.

The candidates raised and spent about the same amount of money in the race, though a conservative super PAC ran TV and web ads on Illuzzi’s behalf.

I think (the auditor’s) a race where you’ll see the candidate benefit from his identification with Democrats,” Perkinson said.

In Facebook post, Don Schramm hopes for Beth Pearce victory

At least one major-party candidate for statewide office, it would appear, is hoping to lose next Tuesday.

In an Oct. 28 post on his Facebook page, Progressive candidate for treasurer Don Schramm notes that “many of my friends like Beth Pearce.”

Schramm apparently feels the same way.

“I like her too and hope that she stays our State Treasurer,” Schramm writes.

Schramm hasn’t returned our calls yet but, based on some background research, the post looks to be legitimate. So will Schramm and the Progs convene a late-race press conference urging his supporters to get behind the Democratic incumbent?

Don’t count on it.

Morgan Daybell, chairman of the Vermont Progressive Party, said today that his organization gave the Democratic incumbent ample opportunity to pick up the Progressive nomination. He said, however, that she was unwilling to add Schramm’s signature issue – the formation of a state bank – to her platform.

“I know there were a lot of opportunities for Beth to take stands early on about the state bank or a state credit card, and she chose not to,” Daybell said. “Had she been a little more aggressive on some of those issues, this race might look different.”

Pearce campaign manager Ryan Emerson said he wasn’t around for the conversations between his boss and the Progs – Emerson was until the August primary running the campaign of Democratic candidate for attorney general TJ Donovan.

“So I honestly can’t give any background,” Emerson said this afternoon.

But he said Pearce supports having a legislative committee study the idea, and hopes Progressives will reconsider their unwillingness to issue an endorsement of some kind.

“If Don wanted to make a formal endorsement, we would absolutely love to see that,” Emerson said. “This race is incredibly close, and it would be a real shame if Beth didn’t win, and it looks like Don sees that it’s in the state’s best interest that Beth wins.

Daybell and Rep. Chris Pearson, head of the Progressive caucus in the Vermont House, say they don’t think the race isn’t as close as Emerson believes.

“I don’t see Wendy Wilton as having a chance,” Pearson said today.

He bases that assessment in part on a survey by a left-leaning polling firm back in late September that showed a 9-point spread for Pearce.

But Democrats had a poll in the field at about the same time that showed the Pearce and Wilton in a statistical dead heat. That same poll, of 501 likely voters, showed Schramm getting more than 3 percent of the vote.

Eric Davis, professor emeritus of polictical science at Middlebury College, said he doesn’t see Schramm picking up more than 1 or 2 percent of the vote next week. But in a race expected to draw around 300,000 voters, Davis said those 3,000 to 6,000 votes for Schramm might otherwise tip the scales for Pearce.

“If Schramm were to make such an announcement publicly supporting Beth Pearce, it could affect the outcome,” Davis said.

Daybell said that while the party won’t issue any formal voting advisories to its members, “certainly individual Progressives who have the profile to get press can do what they want to do.”

Wilton last year spoke out in derisive terms about single-payer health care, one of Progressives top priorities.

“There have been many Progressives I talk to that actively dislike Wendy Wilton,” Daybell said. “And they especially dislike the huge sums of super PAC money rolling in her.”

In the remainder of his Facebook post, Schramm expresses dismay at his low political profile.

“Still I feel very invisible. No one asks me why I am running as the Progressive Candidate for State Treasurer,” Schramm writes.  “If you have problems with my running for this position, I would love to hear from you. If you understand why I am trying to expand the narrow conversation of that campaign and like what I am trying to do, I would like to hear that too. Thanks.”


Pro-single-payer group sprouts a PAC, begins pushing statewide and local candidates

The well-funded pro-single-payer group called “Vermont Leads” has launched its own political action committee.

Funded entirely by an out-of-state union, Vermont Leads earlier this summer aired a six-figure ad blitz urging voters to support single-payer. More recently, the group won headlines for picketing outside the Burlington home of Lenore Broughton, who has poured at least $680,000 of her own money into getting Republicans elected next Tuesday.

With Nov. 6 fast approaching, Vermont Leads has turned its focus from issue advocacy to electioneering, launching a PAC that is separate from the tax-exempt nonprofit that aired the TV ads.

Mass media filings submitted yesterday to the secretary of state’s office show that Vermont Leads PAC has spent about $13,000 on a series of mailings supporting statewide and local candidates.

Democratic candidates Cassandra Gekas (lite guv), Doug Hoffer (auditor), Peter Shumlin and Beth Pearce (treasurer) are all featured in the postcards.

The group is pushing five candidates for Senate – they look to be paying special attention to Franklin County and the Northeast Kingdom. The group is also supporting 14 candidates for the House.

Peter Sterling, executive director of Vermont Leads, has been up front from the beginning about the source of the group’s money. The Service Employees International Union doesn’t have a single member in Vermont, but says it’s underwriting the single-payer advocacy because its believes that if Vermont can pull off single-payer, then the program will spread to other states where it does have members.

Some view the SEIU’s interest in single-payer as a ploy to win the political clout it will need to pass a labor bill next year that would allow it to enlist more than 5,000 home-care workers in Vermont.

With only a week until Election Day, pols cede center stage to Sandy

A storm named Sandy may have relegated politics to the backburner for at least a couple days, but don’t expect politicians to batten down the hatches on their campaigns.

With only a week until Election Day, retail politics is in full swing. And Republican candidate for governor Randy Brock today said he won’t let Sandy take the wind out of his sails.

“I always get the best responses at sign waves or other events when it’s snowing and the wind is blowing,” Brock said. “People know you want the job and are willing to endure some discomfort to get it.”

As a practical matter, the storm will force some rescheduling. Incumbent Treasurer Beth Pearce was to have received a high-profile endorsement earlier this morning from former Gov. Howard Dean. The Democrat’s campaign called reporters Sunday evening to say the Statehouse event had been postponed until later in the week.

Continue reading

New poll gives Pearce edge over Wilton

The most fiercely contested race of the 2012 elections could come down to party affiliation, according to a newly released poll of Vermont voters.

A survey of 1,220 likely voters conducted in late September by a left-leaning polling firm out of North Carolina aims to handicap the political horse race between incumbent treasurer Beth Pearce and challenger Wendy Wilton.

When voters aren’t supplied with party identification, according to the survey by Public Policy Polling, Wilton and Pearce are in a statistical dead heat. Asked, however, whether they would vote for “Democrat Beth Pearce or Republican Wendy Wilton,” the incumbent gains a clear 46-percent-to-37-percent advantage.

The $4,000 poll, commissioned by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal political action committee based in Washington, D.C., is being used not only to tout the electoral benefits of a ‘D,’ but to show broad support generally among Vermonters for one of the party’s defining policies: single-payer health care.

The poll found that 53 percent of Vermonters “approve of Vermont going forward with Green Mountain Care, a single-payer health care system that will guarantee coverage for everyone in the state.”

The survey found that 38 percent disapprove.

For more on the poll, check out tomorrow’s editions of The Times Argus and Rutland Herald

Treasurer’s Race Profile: Wilton & Pearce

From the Sunday Rutland Herald and Times Argus:

Wendy Wilton

Beth Pearce






By David Taube | Staff Writer

MONTPELIER — The two most prominent candidates for state treasurer are an incumbent who points to a track record of savings to taxpayers and a challenger who sees alarming shortfalls in funds.

One of the most closely watched statewide races for this year’s General Election is between Democrat Beth Pearce, the state treasurer, and Republican Wendy Wilton, the Rutland city treasurer.

“We’ve got serious deficits we got to deal with,” said Wilton, who says her city’s $5 million deficit has become a $3.8 million positive fund balance during her time as treasurer.

The pair’s viewpoints clash in several key areas, including pension reform, how debt affects bond ratings, and when one should issue financial forecasts of the state’s proposed single-payer health system.

The campaigns also have made personal and professional issues part of the race, concerning whether it’s questionable if a top state official rents or owns a home and how much overtime is acceptable in the treasurer’s office.

Read the full article here at the Times Argus >>>

And, don’t miss: Rutland officials say Wilton was a key part of the team by Gordon Dritschilo

Deputy auditor overseeing Pearce probe is supporter of Wilton’s

Joe Juhasz, the deputy auditor assigned to oversee a probe into Treasurer Beth Pearce’s oversight of the state pension system, made a financial contribution to Wendy Wilton’s campaign last month.

Juhasz today confirmed the donation and said he’s a longtime Republican who’s also written checks this year to Republican candidate for auditor Vince Illuzzi and Republican candidate for governor Randy Brock.

Pearce, the Democratic incumbent, and Wilton, her Republican challenger, have locked horns this fall in what has become one of the more contentious races for statewide office.

Juhasz, who gave $200 to the Wilton campaign on Sept. 13, said his support for the Republican won’t in any way color his inquiry into Pearce’s management.

In a letter to Republican Auditor Tom Salmon earlier this week, Wilton campaign manager Bradford Broyles accused Pearce of “inadequately managing overtime expenses associated with the Retirement System Reengineering Project.”

Wilton has said that the 3,000 hours racked up by a single employee over the last three fiscal years are of particular concern.

Pearce has said that the overtime expenses were offset by savings from a position she opted to leave vacant. She said her office has come in $500,000 under budget in the two years since she was appointed to the post.

According to a piece by Anne Galloway at Vermont Digger, however,(http://vtdigger.org/2012/10/19/wilton-presses-state-auditor-for-probe-into-excessive-overtime-in-treasurers-office/ ) Pearce neglected to mention that the overtime costs were being paid for with “special pension funds” not part of the treasurer’s general fund budget.

According to Galloway, special-fund spending under Pearce has increased by about $325,000.

Pearce’s camp said the Wilton allegations are groundless, calling them “election-year politics at its worst”

Juhasz said he’s unconcerned about even the appearance of a conflict of interest as he investigates Wilton’s claims. He said Salmon is aware of his political contributions.

“I said we will do what we always do – send a letter of preliminary review,” Juhasz said this morning. “And then the normal process is to ask some questions so we understand what the issues are.”

While he’s been responsible for overseeing the inquiry, Juhasz said he won’t be part of the five-person management team that decides whether to launch a formal audit based on Pearce’s response.

“I have no way of assessing whether the charges made in the complaint have any validity or not,” Juhasz said. “So the first thing we want to do is educate ourselves about the project and how the costs are allocated.”

Pearce won’t be required to deliver responses to the inquiry until after Nov. 6.

Beth Pearce aims to wow with latest campaign-finance report

Beth Pearce over the last month raised more than $53,000, bringing her total for the cycle to about $186,000. Her haul over the last 30 days marks a significant increase over the previous month, when she raised about $37,000.

We just spoke with Republican challenger Wendy Wilton, who said she raised about $25,000 over the last 30 days, for a total this cycle of about $75,000.

From the Pearce campaign:

State Treasurer Beth Pearce announced today that her campaign raised $53,435.00 in the latest finance period stretching from September 15 to October 15. To date, the campaign has raised a total of $186,179.71 from 626 donors.

“I want to thank everyone who has contributed my campaign,” stated Treasurer Beth Pearce. “I am proud of the support of my fellow Vermonters. Together we are building a strong, grassroots organization to ensure victory on Election Day.”

The Pearce campaign’s latest single-month filing of $53,435.00 is significantly greater than the previous month’s showing of $37,259.05.

Campaign Manager Ryan Emerson praised the showing, noting Treasurer Pearce’s increased fundraising momentum. “Since the last filing deadline of September 15th, Vermonters have heard from both candidates and have responded with acclamation for Beth, giving her the strongest single-month fundraising total to date.”

The election will be held on November 6.

Race for treasurer drawing most outside interest as liberal super PAC hits airwaves for Pearce

Vermont’s liberal super PAC is doing what it can to counteract Vermont’s conservative super PAC with a $15,000 ad blitz aimed at promoting the candidacy of incumbent Treasurer Beth Pearce.

With such relatively little drama across the rest of the statewide ticket, the race for treasurer has become the marquis match up of 2012, thanks in part to the huge sums of money being poured into the race by GOP benefactor Lenore Broughton.

The Burlington resident is the lone underwriter of Vermonters First, the Republican super PAC that has spent more than $200,000 on television and web ads and statewide mailings, many of them touting the candidacy of Republican candidate for treasurer Wendy Wilton.

Now comes Vermont Priorities, the liberal foil to Vermonters First, with an ad buy of its own. According to Todd Bailey, a consultant for the group, Pearce will be featured in a 30-second spot set to hit network and cable airwaves tomorrow.

Vermont Priorities’ newfound largesse comes courtesy of some deep-pocketed political moderates, including David Coates, longtime member of the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors, high-powered Green Mountain Power consultant Steve Terry, “Democrat for Dubie” Mary Alice MacKenzie, and (soon-to-be-former) Senate Majority Leader Bill Carris.

Incidentally, be sure to check out Seven Days columnist Paul Heintz’s breakdown of what could be a brewing mutiny in the Vermont Senate (http://www.7dvt.com/2012pro-tem-or-con_)

The ad gives Pearce credit for Vermont’s highest-in-New-England bond rating, and for fast tracking aid to towns struck by Irene. It also mentions endorsements from Gov. Peter Shumlin, who appointed her to the post in January of 2011, and her predecessor, Jeb Spaulding.

Bailey said the group has raised a total of $25,000, and will buy up more air time to run the same ad, if it can raise more money between now and Nov. 6.

Wilton hits Pearce over OT in treasurer’s office, Pearce hits back

State Treasurer Beth Pearce today defended her office against allegations of “mismanagement” after a records request showed that one deputy had clocked at least 1,000 hours of overtime in each of the past three years.

Deputy Director of Retirement Operations Laurie Lanphear logged 1,132 hours of overtime in fiscal year 2012 alone, boosting her base salary of $58,219 by an additional $31,684, according to records acquired by Republican challenger Wendy Wilton.

Lanphear’s overtime pay was nearly double the next highest recipient of overtime in the treasurer’s office, and Wilton seized on the number as evidence of poor oversight by the first-term Democratic incumbent.

“Regardless of the reason, having an employee work 1,000 hours beyond the 2,080 work hours in any given calendar year reflects poor management,” Wilton said in a written statement.

She noted that Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding earlier this year issued a government-wide memo urging department heads to keep overtime to a minimum, and that a state labor contract advises supervisors to distribute overtime as equitably as possible.

“Pearce’s style presents undue risk and an internal control problem,” Wilton said. “This should be a grave concern to Vermont taxpayers and state officials.”

Wilton obviously is looking to seize on the overtime controversy that continues to brew in the wake of the arrest of a former state police officer charged with juicing hours on his time card.

But in a competing release issued later in the afternoon, the Pearce camp shot back, saying Lanphear was “performing a full time job while also covering for previously cut positions, thereby saving taxpayer dollars.”

The Democratic incumbent’s campaign manager said Pearce’s “prudent management” has led the office to operate under-budget over the past two years, returning more than $500,000 to the general fund.

“We call on Wendy Wilton to apologize for the false assertion against Treasurer Pearce,” Emerson said. “We also ask that she publicly apologize to the hardworking Vermont state employees that have gone above and beyond to perform their necessary services to our state no matter the circumstance.”

VSEA announces unique mix of endorsements

The Vermont Employees’ Association announced Tuesday the following endorsements, which included Democratic candidate Cassandra Gekas for lieutenant governor, Republican candidate Vince Illuzzi for auditor, and Progressive Party candidate Ed Stanak for attorney general.

Other nominations included Democratic candidates Gov. Peter Shumlin, Secretary of State Jim Condos and state Treasurer Beth Pearce.

Pearce was appointed to the position but has significantly outraised her opponent, Wendy Wilton, the Rutland City treasurer.

VSEA President John Reese said in a news release members of the nonprofit labor union, which according to its website represents more than 8,000 state workers, will focus efforts on the governor’s race as well as the treasurer and attorney general races.

“Treasurer Beth Pearce has been a great friend to VSEA members, especially in her articulate and educated defense of state employees’ defined benefit pension plans,” said Reese. “Unlike her opponent, Treasurer Pearce understands the many pitfalls inherent in switching state employees from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan.”

Beth Pearce adds $37k to war chest


Wendy Wilton says her campaign has crested the $50,000 mark, meaning the Republican challenger in the treasurer’s race brought in at least $16,000 over the last 30 days.

Incumbent treasurer Beth Pearce raised more than $37,000 over the past month, bringing her total for the cycle to $132,744.71, according to a release from her campaign.
Pearce had enjoyed a 3-to-1 fundraising edge over Republican challenger Wendy Wilton coming into this filing, though Wilton was the beneficiary of a two-week TV ad blitz from the new GOP super PAC, Vermonters First.
No word yet from the Wilton campaign on the Rutland Cuty treasurer’s fundraising haul over the past 30 days. Continue reading

Shumlin, Donovan earn nod from firefighters

The Professional Firefighters of Vermont unveiled endorsements today in statewide races, and true to Vermont form, the 300-member organization wasn’t afraid to split the ticket.

Democrats Peter Shumlin, TJ Donovan, Beth Pearce and Jim Condos won endorsements for their bids for governor, attorney general, state treasurer and secretary of state, respectively.

Republicans Phil Scott and Vince Illuzzi, meanwhile, will get the union’s support in their candidacies for lieutenant governor and state auditor. 

The group is known to hit the phones hard for their chosen candidates, and could provide a key lift in close races.

From the release:

The Professional Fire Fighters of Vermont gathered for their 2012 Biennial Convention at the Sheraton in South Burlington. The highlight of the convention was the PFFV endorsement of the candidacy of Peter Shumlin for Governor.
Speaking about the endorsement, PFFV President Mathew Vinci stated: “The nearly 300 members Professional Fire Fighters from across Vermont are proud to stand with Governor Shumlin and to support his candidacy for a second term.  Throughout his first time, and during long political career in Vermont Governor Shumlin demonstrated time and again his strong leadership on the issues important to our members.  We look forward to his reelection and to partnering with him in his second term.”
At the convention the PFFV also endorsed candidates for Auditor, Attorney General, Treasurer, Secretary of State and Lt. Governor.  Speaking about this slate of candidates Vinci stated:  “Our slate of endorsed statewide candidates distinguish themselves as leaders in Vermont and supporters of our members and their families.  Vince Illuzzi, TJ Donovan, Beth Pearce, Jim Condos, and Phil Scott all recognize the essential roll our members play in keeping Vermonters safe and we know will all continue to be champions for our cause when elected.”
The Professional Fire Fighters of Vermont are a statewide union that represents Paid Professional Fire Fighters, Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians across Vermont.