It’s Risky, Permanent, and has Unintended Consequences.
It’s Risky, Permanent, and has Unintended Consequences.
I know April 3rd, there will be a constitutional amendment on the ballot to eliminate the State Treasurer’s Office for Wisconsin.
Please reject it. It’s wrong and it’s current stripping of duties and programs is ILLEGAL.
I was the Director of Communications and Community Outreach for this office for 3 years. I brought with me, more than 2 decades of tv news experience in Wisconsin as a criminal and investigative producer and reporter, as well experience in the national arena specifically reporting on… war, corruption and politics. I know communications. I know laws. I know politics.
My boss at the time, Treasurer Kurt Schuller campaigned to eliminate this office, but did an “about face.” You see, once serving in the role he saw first-hand the value of the programs operating on REVENUE EARNED dollars, rather than your tax dollars. OST actually paid into the general fund (tax pool), rather than taking from it to fund the office and its programs. That, is good business and fiscally responsible. Further, Secretary Schuller came to the realization, to legally eliminate this office was constitutionally complex and not protective of funds controlled by that office which belong to people in Wisconsin. Those in support of eliminating this office are misrepresenting the “simplicity” of making such a move. It’s misleading and illegal and quite frankly, insulting to the intelligence of the general population.
I ask you to please consider this…
This is a concentration of power. Currently, there are only 6 statewide constitutional offices through which your voice can be heard. Eliminating one of those offices, removes a place for you to reach out and seek necessary information as a citizen of Wisconsin. Further, programs which were nestled (by the Constitution) in this office are currently being run in other agencies headed by APPOINTED individuals… not people you chose to ELECT. These programs are not performing even somewhat comparatively successful as to when they were in the Office of the State Treasurer. In most states, the State Treasuer (an elected position) oversees agencies such as the Department of Revenue (your tax haven and home to the lottery) and other streams of revenue for the state. The constitution clearly states an intricate series of layers keeping programs such as Unclaimed Property under the watchful eye of an elected party… the State Treasurer. It is complicated, so most have ignored this happening right under their noses.
WORSE AND MOST IMPACTFUL TO YOU: While programs such as Unclaimed Property were housed in the State Treasurer’s office (per the constitution) and paid for with revenue, rather than money out of your pocket… OST returned RECORD AMOUNTS OF MONEY ($36 Million in one year) TO THE PEOPLE OF WISCONSIN, THUS BOOSTING OUR LOCAL ECONOMY IN A FISCAL SLUMP. We promoted and reached out to the public to let you know, you have money and you should have it returned to you. One such effort put back into the accounts of a woman who lost use of her limbs… $180,000 she needed and was legally entitled to have. We found her and returned her money to her. NONE of this is being done now to support our citizens, nor our economy.
If you have questions about this, I would be more than willing to delve into a deeper explanation.
Again, please DO NOT VOTE TO ELIMINATE THE STATE TREASURER’S OFFICE APRIL 3RD.
And please share this post with all of your friends asking the same of them.
Melanie Stake (R), clerk of Waushara County, stated, “The wise authors of Wisconsin’s constitution created a divided government – and six state constitutional officers – for a reason. Transferring duties …. creates a disconcerting consolidation of power that has the potential to compromise fair and transparent government.”
“Instead of eliminating the office and enlarging our state’s bureaucracy, we need to focus on restoring duties and accountability.”
From Former Racine County Chairman Bill Folk:
“For 36 years, under Democratic and Republican Governors, there has been a concerted effort to remove duties from the Secretary of State and place those duties into the hands of unelected and unaccountable boards. This is not because the office has become irrelevant but the occupant has been ineffective.”
“For years, the political elite have chipped away at the treasurer’s office, taking power away from an elected official and concentrating it in the hands of bureaucrats, this is the wrong course; it’s not a conservative idea; it’s not a progressive idea. It’s Madison politics, pure and simple.”
Early in his term, Treasurer Matt Adamczyk (pronounced eDOMchek), was asked to sign a paper. The paper captured his signature.
Mr. Adamczyk recently testified at a Senate committee hearing saying, “My signature and the signature of the Secretary of Administration’s appears on state checks.”
But Mr. Adamczyk never sees any of the checks with his signature and never performs any functions overseeing payment of state bills. And he doesn’t want to oversee state funds. Instead, Mr. Adamczyk testified he wants to get rid of the whole constitutional Office of Treasurer, describing the role as “outdated and a waste of money”.
A resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to eliminate the role of state treasurer is likely to be finalized by the time you read this column. I will be voting “no” on the proposal to eliminate the office of state of treasurer and here’s why.
According to the nonpartisan Council of State Governments,
“Treasurers act as the watchdogs of the people’s money and, in most states, are elected by their own constituents. This check and balance in the executive branch of government provides an effective oversight mechanism and increased transparency.”
In advising all types of organizations from local nonprofits to large multi-national corporations, auditors tell their clients that when it comes to handling money there has to be segregation of duties. Simply put, the same person (or department in a large company) should not collect the money, deposit the money, spend the money and do all the accounting.
The argument for eliminating the office of treasurer is that the treasurer doesn’t do anything. Recent governors and legislatures have whittled away at the duties so the argument now is, “The treasurer doesn’t do anything, let’s abolish the office.”
That is the wrong conclusion. We should rather be bringing back the duties that have been transferred to the Department of Administration (DOA) and making sure that when it comes to handling billions of dollars in state funds there is segregation of duties. There is a check and balance. More than one agency is involved.
The erosion of the Treasurer’s duties has been gradual and started at least twenty years ago. Duties were moved to the DOA that reports to the Governor. When Governor Walker took office, the treasurer oversaw money used for the public funding of Supreme Court races, college savings programs, local government’s investment of public funds, and ran a program reuniting people with their property though the unclaimed property program. The governor eliminated the public funding of Supreme Court races and transferred other activities to executive branch agencies.
During his tenure, Governor Walker has centralized a lot of authority in DOA. In the budget he proposed last month, he transfers almost 500 employees from various agencies to DOA. These are the employees who do budgeting, information technology and hiring and firing. If these transfers go through and the office of treasurer is eliminated, it seems that all budgeting, all contracting, all payments, all accounting will be in one agency under the direction of one Secretary. There would be no segregation of duties. That is not good government or good business practice.
Waushara County Clerk Melanie Stake, a Republican, wrote to our committee:
“The wise authors of Wisconsin’s constitution created a divided government – and six state constitutional officers – for a reason. Transferring duties to personnel appointed by, and/or overseen by, the governor’s office creates a disconcerting consolidation of power that has the potential to compromise fair and transparent government.”
She quoted the Wisconsin Taxpayer that cited Wisconsin as the ONLY state where the treasurer did not oversee cash management, and one of two states where the treasurer is not responsible for the state’s bank accounts.
What would the segregation of duties look like? In a neighboring state an independent constitutional officer has the responsibility of prescribing a uniform accounting system, ensuring that all contracts are properly authorized, all vouchers are documented and all expenditures follow the law. A second constitutional officer keeps all the accounts and writes all the checks.
That may be more segregation of duties than is necessary but that system was created after one state official embezzled some $30 million in today’s dollars when there wasn’t any independent check.
Does Wisconsin need segregation of duties when it comes to handling billions of public dollars? Ask your local accountant!
On the April 3rd, 2018 ballot – vote NO to protect Wisconsin’s constitution to keep accountability in your government!
Almost $1 billion per year goes from your property tax bill to unelected, unaccountable technical college boards. As Senator Darling advocates – we need more elected officials, not fewer!
A government watchdog group report that suggests Milwaukee Area Technical College is heading toward a financial crisis while faculty salary and fringe benefits have escalated is evidence that technical college district board members should be elected, not appointed, state Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) said Thursday.
Darling announced she will re-introduce legislation during the next legislative session for nonpartisan election of all members of technical college district boards to four-year terms. Darling introduced similar legislation each of the past three sessions, but the bills failed to make it out of committee.
“Taxpayers continue to be frustrated that they have no voice in the fiscal and policy decisions made at the tech college level,” Darling said. “Electing tech college board members won’t in itself solve every problem, but clearly this reform would provide a climate of accountability when it comes to managing these resources.”
Technical colleges levied about $796 million in property taxes this fiscal year. That is the fourth most behind school districts at $4.8 billion, municipalities at $2.6 billion and counties at $2 billion.
On April 3rd, 2018, Wisconsin voters will have a constitutional referendum on the ballot to decide if they want to eliminate their right to choose the State Treasurer, and have it become a bureaucratic appointee.
1) Denying a vote decreases accountability
As Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) has advocated in the past, we need to hold all parts of our government accountable and advocate for elected Technical College Boards. Now is the time for more publicly accountable elected officials, not fewer.
2) Denying a vote increases spending
Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance studied the size of Wisconsin County Boards and their relationship to spending. They found that increasing the number of elected officials on county boards was associated with lower spending. It helps “keep spending in check by making each supervisor more accountable.” Electing officials (as opposed to appointing) holds them accountable at every level.
3) Denying a vote will not eliminate any positions
Denying citizens a vote on this statewide elected position will not eliminate any positions – rather the jobs are just shuffled from one agency to another. No duties are eliminated, rather it just reshuffles the deck. And some appointed bureaucrat will likely get a huge pay boost to do the duties the State Treasurer used to do. Except you won’t have any ability to hold the new Treasurer accountable.
4) Denying a vote can increase the cost of government
Functions formerly provided by the State Treasurer (Unclaimed Property fund, Local Government Investment Pool) were handed over to the Revenue Secretary. Treasurer makes $68,556 a year, but the Revenue Secretary makes $113,611.02 – a 66% increase in salary!
6) Denying a vote could lead to an appointed Attorney General
If we decide that we’re going to eliminate elected officials, the Attorney General actually has fewer constitutional duties than the Secretary of State. Next in line will be eliminating the right of citizens to vote for their Attorney General. Having a diversity of elected officials helps hold all parts of our government accountable to We The People!