Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Assembly Votes to Delete State Treasurer Position

The Assembly voted, 67-32, last night to approve a constitutional amendment that would delete the office of the State Treasurer and make the Lieutenant Governor a member of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL). 

The amendment produced an interesting bi-partisan vote with several key Democrats (Peter Barca, Eric Genrich, Gordon Hintz, Rob Kahl, Deb Kolste, Cory Mason, Nick Milroy, Tod Ohnstad, Amy Sue Vruwink and Mandy Wright) voting in favor of the proposal and three Republicans (Kathy Bernier, Ed Brooks and Lee Nerison) voting against.

Representative Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) did an excellent job of arguing against the amendment. She said the amendment raises serious concerns about the future of the BCPL if not all of the referendum questions are approved.  Shankland also said that the state treasurer and the BCPL are very financially efficient and operate at not cost to state taxpayers since the state treasurer’s salary is paid for by program revenue, not state GPR dollars.

However, Representatives Tyler August (R-Geneva) and Michael Shraa (R-Oshkosh) argued that the office is inefficient and serves no purpose since the only remaining duty of the state treasurer is to sit on the BCPL. August said that every dollar spent on the state treasurer’s office is a dollar that is taken away from the Common School Fund.

Representative Rob Swearingen (R-Rhinelander) said that he previously had concerns about the original amendment’s effect on the Common School Fund, but that the substitute amendment had addressed his concerns.  WEMTA still has concerns about the impact of this proposal on the BCPL and Common School Fund.

AJR 48 now goes to the Senate for approval. It must be approved by both houses of the legislature this session and in the 2015-16 session before being voted on in a statewide referendum.  No action has been taken on AJR 85, which deletes the office of the Secretary of State.

You can watch the debate here. Debate begins at approximately the 4 hour and 56 minute mark. 

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