Stephen Klein wins annual Steven D. Gold Award

Stephen Klein, director of the Vermont Joint Fiscal Office, is this year’s recipient of the Steven D. Gold Award, which recognizes a person who has made a significant contribution to the field of state and local finance and intergovernmental relations.

Klein joined the staff of the Vermont Fiscal Office in 1992 and was appointed chief fiscal officer in 1993. The nonpartisan office of 12 full-time staff and three consultants provides fiscal analysis, budget evaluation, performance oversight and fiscal policy support for the General Assembly.

Stephen KleinWorking in state government has been a long-term interest of Klein’s and the focus of his graduate work. Back in the ’60s, unlike many of his peers during that tumultuous time, he felt government was critical for bringing about change.

Through his many years of professional and public service, Klein has earned the respect and admiration of his staff, members of the legislature, the community in which he lives and his colleagues from around the country. “Steve’s extensive experience and depth of knowledge is an invaluable asset to Vermont,” says Vermont Speaker Shap Smith (D). “He brings a level of energy, enthusiasm and creativity that is unusual in fiscal officers. I am proud to have Steve as a colleague and a friend.” 

Klein’s staff describe him as an intelligent, fair, honest person with true compassion for others, a keen ability to find consensus and someone who is not afraid to laugh at himself.

“Nobody works harder for, or cares more deeply about, the Vermont General Assembly than Steve Klein,” says Nathan Lavery, a fiscal analyst. “Steve combines an appreciation for the role of the institution with an equally genuine appreciation for the individuals who make it unique. I am constantly impressed by Steve’s ability and willingness to meet the needs of legislators and staff alike. Steve has more than his share of enthusiasm, and he shares it freely.”

Klein has served as president of the National Association of Legislative Fiscal Offices, and on NCSL’s Executive Committee and the New England Public Policy Center’s Advisory Board at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. And in his spare time, when he’s not hiking, biking, canoeing or mentoring young people, he lectures at the Vermont Law School on the legislative budget process.

 “I never cease to be amazed by how Steve can look at an issue, for just a few minutes, and come up with a creative solution that all parties feel comfortable with,” says Maria Belliveau, an associate fiscal officer in Vermont. “One testament to his ability to make staff feel valued is our extremely low turnover rate. No one ever leaves. Why would they want to risk working for someone else? Once you’ve worked for Steve, anyone else looks bad by comparison.”

Significant changes

When asked to name the most significant changes he’s seen over the past 20 years, Klein lists:

  • The increase in the professionalization and independence of the staff.
  • A greater emphasis on consensus forecasting between the legislature and the executive.
  • The ability to produce more and work faster because of computers and the Internet.
  • A growing challenge to maintain a credible nonpartisan role as the level of partisanship increases.

Before joining the Vermont Legislature, Klein directed the Environmental Investment Group and the Massachusetts Senate Post Audit and Oversight Bureau. He received his education at the University of California, Berkeley, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Northeastern University.

About the award

The award is given annually by NCSL, the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, and the National Tax Association, in memory of Steve Gold, an active member of all three organizations, who had an exemplary career as an analyst of state and local fiscal issues. Before his death in 1996, he co-directed the Urban Institute’s New Federalism project, the Center for the Study of States at the Rockefeller Institute at State University of New York and Fiscal Studies at NCSL. He is remembered for his remarkable ability to span the interests of scholars, elected officials, practitioners, and policy advocates in an evenhanded, nonpartisan manner.

Additional Resources