State Auditor gets heat for offering to mediate budget standoff

05/29/09 5:50PM By Bob Kinzel
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AP Photo/T. Talbot
(Host) State Auditor Tom Salmon says he's taking some ‘heat' from members of his own political party, for his offer to act as a mediator to help end the budget stalemate between the governor and Democratic leaders at the Statehouse.

Salmon says his fellow Democrats have to understand that the state is facing an unusual economic crisis that isn't going away anytime soon.

VPR's Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Salmon says he made the offer to be a mediator because he believes a veto showdown over next year's budget isn't in the best long term interests of the state.

Salmon says political leaders need to come up with a new process to deal with their budget disagreements because the current system clearly isn't working.

Speaking on VPR's Vermont Edition, Salmon said he understands that some Democrats think his offer to get involved is undermining the work of the Party's legislative leadership:

(Salmon) "Tom Salmon is being the State Auditor that's it it's real simple...and what I've said to people who are criticizing me politically is that you have to realize I didn't come into politics until 2006 and it was because I was absolutely frustrated with the state of affairs and I wanted to see a meaningful reform and improvement and a process to get there."

(Kinzel) Salmon says he's willing to help facilitate a compromise between the Governor and Democratic leaders because he thinks a veto showdown will only act as a temporary solution. If major changes aren't made to the process, Salmon argues these disagreements will reemerge year after year:

(Salmon) "This isn't a little fight and then you're going fishing or just go have a beer this isn't gay marriage which has been decided and you move on this is a gigantic financial tsunami that is heading towards the beach...so I don't know what it's going to take to get the earwax out of people's ears to understand this is not a little bump."

(Kinzel) The Democrats say they'll support Salmon's role as a budget facilitator as long as the Governor puts the details of his budget plan into the formal language of a bill.

Douglas hasn't done that and he accuses the Democrats of asking for the specific information as a way to stall further negotiations over the budget.

For VPR News I'm Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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