April 3 Constitutional Referendum to Eliminate the State Treasurer

by | Mar 8, 2018 | 0 comments

A statewide referendum on whether or not Wisconsin should amend its Constitution to eliminate the Office of the State Treasurer will be on your ballot April 3. Currently, the state treasurer sits on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) and oversees state trust funds that support school libraries and universities. The office is independently elected by Wisconsin voters.

Many of the treasurer’s duties have been transferred to executive branch agencies over the years as part of the effort to eliminate the office. These duties include: cash management functions; local government investment pool; unclaimed property program; and the college savings program. According to the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, “Wisconsin is one of only two states where the treasurer is not responsible for banking services, and the only state in which the treasurer is not responsible for cash management.”

Financial oversight is critical to protecting the integrity of public funds. We believe that instead of eliminating the office, Wisconsin should restore the full duties of the treasurer to ensure that Wisconsin has an independent, constitutional office dedicated to fiscal oversight.

We are asking groups to Vote No on this referendum because:

If passed, Wisconsin would be the only state in the nation without a financial officer.

  • Eliminating this constitutional office jeopardizes checks and balances within state government by transferring more power to the executive branch.
  • The state treasurer’s full duties should be restored because Wisconsinites deserve to know how taxpayer dollars are being spent.
  • Wisconsin needs a dedicated and independently elected state treasurer to fight waste, fraud and abuse in state government.
  • Public funds have been put at risk as a result of transferring the treasurer’s duties to state agencies.
  • In 2016, the Legislative Audit Bureau found that the Department of Administration did not keep adequate cash records for the Employee Trust Fund.
  • The 2016 Annual Financial Report did not contain accurate numbers.
  • The Unclaimed Property Program now costs more to administer and is less effective— resulting in lost revenue.

Representative Michael Schraa (R-Oshkosh), a co-author of the constitutional amendment, says that if voters decide to keep the office, he will draft a bill to restore the state treasurer’s duties. Restoring the office’s duties is the best option for Wisconsinites.

Please vote no on April 3, 201.

Why does this matter to public schools in Wisconsin?

The Treasurer, as the State’s financial officer, helps to oversee the school trust funds. Because the Office of the Treasurer is not involved in the state budget process run by the Governor and the Legislature, it serves as the ideal custodian to protect the integrity of these funds. The authors of our constitution did this intentionally and created permanent funds and the State Trust Fund Loan Program to support Wisconsin’s public education system. Highlights include:

The Common School Fund is $1.04 billion, averaging $26 for every child in the state between the ages of 4-20 years. It is the only dedicated source of state funding for K-12 school libraries and technology.  The University Fund (Normal School Fund) is $24 million, providing funding to the University of Wisconsin System.  The State Trust Fund Loan Program provides financing opportunities for school districts and municipalities for operations, transportation, and unfunded prior service pension liabilities.

Why does this matter to local communities in Wisconsin?

The Treasurer, as the State’s financial officer, helps to oversee the State Trust Fund Loan Program and the public school trust funds. The State Trust Fund Loan Program provides financing opportunities for schools, libraries and local government for public purpose projects that include building projects, public safety, water and sewage treatment, and unfunded prior service pension liabilities. The Trust Fund Loan Program has helped local governments complete local road projects, buy new fire trucks and snow plows and build community centers.

In the past 10 years, the fund has invested over $1 billion that has benefited communities in all 72 counties in Wisconsin.

These investments have included:

  • $220,920,000 in Economic Development
  • $624,560,000 in Infrastructure, Capital Equipment & Operations
  • $102,800,000 in Refinance of Pension Liabilities
  • $310,320,000 in Refinance of Debt

More information We have an opportunity to defeat this amendment at the ballot box on April 3, 2018. With general awareness of this constitutional amendment startlingly low with Wisconsin voters, our plan is to educate. For more information, please visit www.saveourfiscalwatchdog.org. Please help spread the word!

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