Tuesday, August 21, 2018

WEMTA Members Testify Before Study Committee on BCPL, CSF

WEMTA was invited to present to the Legislative Council Study Committee on Investment and Use of the School Trust Funds on August 16. We were asked to answer questions about the Common School Fund and how it benefits school libraries. 

WEMTA's presentation was led by Legislative Committee Chair Janet Vraney and WEMTA members Micki Uppena, Tony Spence and Kay Benning.  They educated Committee members on all of the great things happening in our school libraries because of the Common School Fund and, explained that for the vast majority of WEMTA members, CSF dollars are the only funding they receive for their school library program. In addition, they highlighted the stability of the Common School Fund and told the Committee that school libraries want a dedicated, reliable and consistent funding source. 

You can view WEMTA's presentation and the full Committee meeting here. They plan to meet again on September 5. 

The Committee also heard from:

  • Staff from the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands talked about how they invest the Common School Fund and other trust funds. They talked a lot about the history of the BCPL and the Common School Fund and their investment policy. They said that the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB) would generate the same return for the Common School Fund as BCPL because they would need to operate under the same statutory and constitutional constraints. They also said that if the Common School Fund had been invested in a more risky manner during the economic downturn of 2007-09, there would not have been any Common School Fund Distributions for 5-8 years. 
  • A panel of local government officials discussed the importance of the BCPL Trust Fund Loan Program. They said that many small municipalities can't access the bond market and that private loans have higher costs. Robert Scott, director of finance for the City of Brookfield, said: "Restriction or elimination of the Trust Fund Loan program would not only jettison a smart fiscal tool for hundreds of local governments in Wisconsin, but it could also curtail infrastructure and economic development projects that but for the state Trust Fund Loan program would have either not occurred or would cost taxpayers more in the long run."
  • BCPL Commissioner State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk  testified about why he thinks the BCPL and the Common School Fund should change. He said that the goal of making changes is to double the rate of return for schools.He said that the state should remove school libraries as the dedicated beneficiary of the Common School Fund so that the CSF could be "free money for the school districts." He said that they could find a different way to fund school libraries; for example, through the general fund. He told the Committee the SWIB is the gold standard and should be allowed to invest the money. Adamczyk also told the Committee that he opposes the loan program because it is "stealing money" from a private entity (banks). 
  • A panel of school district officials  spoke about the importance of the BCPL Trust Fund Loan Program and the Common School Fund. They said it can be challenging for their small local banks to help them with loans.Todd Carlson, superintendent of the Gillett School District said that the Common School Fund is vital to his district. Carlson said that 95% of their yearly operating budget is fixed costs for things like transportation, salaries and utilities, so they often don't have room for the extras. Brian Krey, business manager for the River Valley School District, which has four schools, said the Common School Fund is the sole budget for his libraries and that he supports keeping it as a dedicated funding source for libraries. "Knowing that it's stable and dependent is really important to us. School funding is anything but that, especially in a district like ours where we're declining in student enrollment. So knowing that that money is going to be there, year-after-year, is very, very beneficial for our entire community," said Krey.  
  • BCPL Commissioner Secretary of State Doug La Follette. He said that the BCPL system is working and that it has been modernized. 









Monday, August 13, 2018

Don't Forget to Vote Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 14th!


Be sure to vote in the primary election tomorrow, Tuesday, August 14th! There are statewide primary races for Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, State Treasurer and U.S. Senate. There are also local primary races for State Assembly and State Senate seats as well as Congressional seats. 
  
Primary: August 14, 2018 Polls Open: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Review A Sample Ballot Before Heading to the Polls: https://myvote.wi.gov/en-US/PreviewMyBallot

One-Party Primary Voting: You can only participate in one party’s primary. You will need to decide whether you want to vote in the Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, Wisconsin Green, or Constitution party primary.

Registering to Vote: You can register to vote at the polls on Election Day. You will need to bring proof of residence, such as a valid driver’s license or state ID card, a bank statement, paycheck, or recent gas, electric or telephone bill. NOTE: This is not a complete list of acceptable proof of residence documents.

Photo ID: A photo ID is required to vote. Visit  https://www.bringitwisconsin.com/ to see a list of acceptable IDs.

Find your polling place and see a sample ballot at https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/

BCPL Candidates: The Offices of Attorney General, Secretary of State and State Treasurer are extremely important to the WEMTA because they serve on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) which oversees the Common School Fund. WEMTA surveyed every candidate for Attorney General, Secretary of State and State Treasurer about their positions on key BCPL and Common School Fund issues. Their responses have been compiled in this non-partisan voter guide, and their answers appear in the order in which their names are listed on the ballot.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Wisconsin's Primary Election is 11 Days Away!


Wisconsin’s 2018 Partisan Primary is Tuesday, August 14. There are several statewide races on the ballot. Primaries are also required for some State Assembly, State Senate and U.S. House races. The winners of these primaries will be on the general election ballot on November 6.

Governor

An eight-person Democratic primary field is vying for a chance to challenge Governor Walker, who is running for his third term. Democratic candidates include State Senator Kathleen Vinehout, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, State Superintendent Tony Evers, former State Representative Kelda Roys, attorney Matt Flynn, political activist Mike McCabe, President of the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin Mahlon Mitchell, and attorney Josh Pade. Governor Walker has a Republican primary election against software publisher Robert Meyer.

Education has become a top issue in the race as Governor Walker is campaigning as the “pro-education” governor. He has featured his investments in education in his campaign ads and has said that he will continue the UW System Tuition Freeze if re-elected. Walker’s Republican primary opponent, Robert Meyer, says he will work to improve education outcomes for all students. Every Democratic candidate calls for increased K-12 education funding in their education proposals. Roys, Soglin and Vinehout all reference the need to make changes to the school funding formula on their campaign websites while Evers has released a proposal to change the formula as part of his 2019-21 state budget request.  In addition, all of the candidates have gone to the record saying that they support the repeal of Act 10. Flynn, Evers, Mitchell and Roys say on their campaign websites that they support creating a way to re-finance student loans. Flynn says on his campaign website that he will stop expansion of the school choice program, Vinehout has links to several columns she’s written expressing concerns about expansion and funding of the choice program, and McCabe and Roys say that they will phase it out.



Josh Pade Campaign Website (does not have dedicated issues section)


Lt. Governor

There is also a Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor. Former state representative Mandela Barnes is running against entrepreneur Kurt Kober. Kober says that education will be his top priority if elected, and lays out proposals to change the school funding formula, reduce standardized testing and streamline education to promote lifelong learning on his campaign website. Barnes also lists education as a top priority and supports modifying the school funding formula, community schools, free two-year college and debt-free four year college.


Current Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch does not have a primary challenger.

Lt. Governor Kleefisch (does not appear to have an active campaign website yet, but is featured on Governor Walker’s site).  

State Treasurer and Secretary of State

There are both Republican and Democratic primaries in the race to fill the open State Treasurer seat. A key issue in the campaign has been the future of the office now that voters have rejected the idea of eliminating the office. There are also Republican and Democratic primaries for Secretary of State. Both of these offices serve on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, which oversees the Common School Fund. To see where the candidates for the two offices stand on issues important to WEMTA, check out our voter guide or older posts that we've done on this blog about the races.

U.S. Senate

A tough Republican primary is taking place for one of Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate seats. State Senator Leah Vukmir is squaring off against retired Marine Kevin Nicholson for a chance to challenge Senator Tammy Baldwin.


Current U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin does not have a primary challenger.

Wisconsin Primary Election Information

Primary: August 14, 2018

Polls Open: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

One-Party Primary Voting: You can only participate in one party’s primary. You will need to decide whether you want to vote in the Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, Wisconsin Green, or Constitution party primary.

In-Person Early Voting: Check with your local clerk about early voting hours in your municipality: https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/MyMunicipalClerk

Absentee Ballots: The deadline to request an absentee ballot be sent to you is 5 p.m. on August 9. You must provide a photocopy of your photo ID when requesting an absentee ballot. Your completed absentee ballot must be delivered no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day.  It is recommended that you place your completed absentee ballot in the mail one week before Election Day to ensure that it arrives in time.

Registering to Vote: You can register to vote at the polls on Election Day. You will need to bring proof of residence, such as a valid driver’s license or state ID card, a bank statement, paycheck, or recent gas, electric or telephone bill. NOTE: This is not a complete list of acceptable proof of residence documents.

Photo ID: A photo ID is required to vote. Visit www.bringitwisconsin.com to see a list of acceptable IDs.

Find Your Polling Place: Find your polling place and see a sample ballot at www.myvote.wi.gov.
General Election: November 6, 2018. The winner of each party’s primary will advance to the General Election ballot.


Thursday, August 2, 2018

BCPL Commissioners Schimel, La Follette Raise Concerns About State Treasurer's Treatment of BCPL Staff

Several news outlets are reporting that BCPL Commissioners Attorney General Brad Schimel and Secretary of State Doug La Follette said on the record at last week's BCPL meeting that they feel their fellow Commissioner State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk is treating BCPL staff inappropriately. Schimel described Adamczyk's approach to working with staff as  "abusive and unreasonable."

BCPL Commissioners and BCPL staff oversee the investments of the state trust funds, including the Common School Fund.

During the meeting, Adamczyk said he was concerned that the BCPL staff was not qualified to make investments and argued that the BCPL trust funds, including the Common School Fund, should be transferred to the State of Wisconsin Investment Board.

You can listen to the full board meeting here: ftp://doaftp1380.wi.gov/doadocs/BCPL/2018-07-24_BCPL-BoardMtgRecording.mp3 

Wisconsin State JournalAttorney General publicly slams State Treasurer as 'unreasonable and abusive' to state workers

The Cap Times: Treasurer Matt Adamczyk's demands to state employees 'abusive' and 'unreasonable,' says AG Brad Schimel

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Attorney General Candidate Responses to WEMTA Questions


Attorney General Candidate Responses


WEMTA asked every Attorney General candidate the following questions. Their responses are compiled below and appear in the order in which their names are listed on the ballot.

1. What do you believe the role of the attorney general is in relation to public education in Wisconsin?

Brad Schimel (R), Incumbent: Did not respond.

Josh Kaul (D): Our attorney general must work to make our schools safer. I believe Wisconsin should increase funding for mental health programs in schools and enact common-sense gun-safety measures, including universal background checks and a ban on bump stocks.

As a member of the BCPL, the AG must also work with the other members of the BCPL and BCPL staff members to ensure that the assets in the Common School Fund that benefit our public school libraries are managed appropriately. Our public school libraries don’t just promote reading; they ensure that students in Wisconsin have access to information and technology.

Terry Larson (Constitution Party): My primary function as attorney general is to see the laws of the state of Wisconsin are enforced, including any laws regarding public education.

2. Legislation introduced during the 2017-18 legislative session would have eliminated the requirement that Common School Fund distributions be given to school libraries. What is your position on this proposal?

Brad Schimel (R), Incumbent: Did not respond.

Josh Kaul (D): I oppose this proposal.

Terry Larson (Constitution Party): I have not read the legislation or proposal details. I am “by default” opposed to any reductions in funding of any kind to school or public libraries.

3. Legislation introduced during the 2017-18 legislative session would have ended the BCPL Trust Fund Loan Program. What is your position on this proposal?

Brad Schimel (R), Incumbent: Did not respond.

Josh Kaul (D): I oppose this proposal.

Terry Larson (Constitution Party): I have not read the legislation so cannot comment on this. I am “by default” opposed to making changes to trust funds left by those who came before us to care for.

4. How will you ensure that the Common School Fund and other BCPL trust funds are receiving all required deposits from fines, fees and forfeitures and other constitutionally required funding streams?

Brad Schimel (R), Incumbent: Did not respond.

Josh Kaul (D): I believe the AG should work with the other members of the BCPL and BCPL staff members to ensure that the clear proceeds of fines, fees, and forfeitures are deposited into the Common School Fund.

Terry Larson (Constitution Party): I am responsible as attorney general to see that anything “constitutionally required” happens. I would have to intervene if required funding streams are not received.

5. What issues or policies will you prioritize if elected? 

Brad Schimel (R), Incumbent: Did not respond.

Josh Kaul (D): I’m a former federal prosecutor, and I want my family -- and families throughout Wisconsin -- to live in a state that’s safer and stronger than we’re on track for right now.

I believe we need new leadership when it comes to fighting crime and getting justice for Wisconsinites. The opioid epidemic has been devastating for Wisconsin families and continues to get worse, and we have a growing meth problem. I believe we need to do more to ensure that enforcement efforts are targeting large-scale drug traffickers; we need to increase access to substance-abuse treatment; and we need to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for the role they played in creating and exacerbating the opioid epidemic.

As discussed above, I believe we need to do more to address school safety as well. While our current AG has criticized gun-free school zones and suggested that we consider arming teachers, I believe we must keep our gun-free school zones and I’m opposed to arming teachers. I also believe our AG must ensure that justice isn’t being delayed because of delays in the testing of evidence.

In addition, we need an AG who is independent, who will be a watchdog for Wisconsinites, and who will seriously and even-handedly enforce the laws that protect our environment and our consumer-protection laws.

Terry Larson (Constitution Party): My current list of priorities includes stopping several things in Wisconsin by enforcing state laws:

1. The enforcement of federal Supreme Court opinions as law upon Wisconsin citizens.

2. The destruction or removal of Civil War memorials or monuments including those for the Confederacy.

3. The creation of sanctuary areas for illegal aliens.

4. Infringements upon the freedom of speech or the right to bear arms which the citizens of Wisconsin have under both our federal and state constitutions.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Secretary of State Candidates Respond to WEMTA Questions


Secretary of State Candidate Responses


Republican and Democratic primaries are required in this race. WEMTA asked every Secretary of State candidate the following questions. Their responses are compiled below and appear in the order in which their names are listed on the ballot. The Office of Secretary of State is important to WEMTA because they serve on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, which oversees the Common School Fund. 

1. State Legislators have debated the idea of eliminating the Office of the Secretary of State in past legislative sessions. What is your position on this issue?


Jay Schroeder (R): Did not respond.

Spencer Zimmerman (R): Did not respond.

Doug La Follette (D), Incumbent: I strongly oppose the elimination if the SOS and the State Treasurer's offices.

I have fought against this idea for many years. Rather I support returning the important duties that have been taken away from these two offices.

Arvina Martin (D): I firmly believe that the Office of Secretary of State should not only be retained, but should have duties returned to the office. Last Spring’s referendum showed that Wisconsinites want to see another constitutional office, the State Treasurer, remain, and I believe that this carries over to the Secretary of State’s office as well. I think this shows that the people of Wisconsin are interested in seeing the duties of government spread across many branches, leading to more transparency as well as checks and balances. First and foremost, the Secretary of State should be a champion of democracy, and have a strong role overseeing elections, making sure they are fair, and working to increase participation. Unfortunately, over 40 years, leaders of both parties have lost faith in the incumbent, and essentially all of his responsibilities have been stripped from the office. It’s time for a reset in which we restore the Secretary of State’s office under new leadership.


2. What do you believe the role of the secretary of state is in relation to public education in Wisconsin?

Jay Schroeder (R): Did not respond.

Spencer Zimmerman (R): Did not respond.

Doug La Follette (D), Incumbent: In addition to the critical role on the Board of Land Commissioners where I have and will fight to protect the funds and work to earn as much interest as possible for the School Libraries.  The SOS can play a role in educating people about the importance of Democracy and education.  I will continue to work on and talk about environmental issues.

Arvina Martin (D): The Secretary of State should be a vocal and visible champion for strong public schools in Wisconsin. Unfortunately, the current Secretary of State does the bare minimum, and almost every single duty has been taken away. I will be a visible champion for public schools, traveling the state and advocating for increased investment in our classrooms and libraries. As you know, the Secretary of State is a member of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, managing the funds that are ultimately allocated to school libraries. The Secretary of State needs to be a strong leader to ensure that funding is protected and increased. We have an important stewardship responsibility to our land, and to ensure we protect funds that go to public schools and school libraries. I also think that the Secretary of State can use the office to promote civic participation, including encouraging Wisconsinites’ participation in elections and in the US Census. By encouraging active this participation, we can be assured that our school districts’ populations are counted accurately, ensuring that our public schools are properly funded.

3. Legislation introduced during the 2017-18 legislative session would have eliminated the requirement that Common School Fund distributions be given to school libraries. What is your position on this proposal?

Jay Schroeder (R): Did not respond.

Spencer Zimmerman (R): Did not respond.

Doug La Follette (D), Incumbent: I was against this and will continue to fight any such very dangerous ideas.

Arvina Martin (D): I absolutely am against this proposal. These funds are necessary for our school libraries and should not be touched. I’m aghast that the strong tradition of using revenues from our public lands to support libraries would be threatened, and I’ll be an active and strong voice, traveling across the state, to stop legislation like this and promote legislation that would strengthen schools.

4. Legislation introduced during the 2017-18 legislative session would have ended the BCPL Trust Fund Loan Program. What is your position on this proposal?


Jay Schroeder (R): Did not respond.

Spencer Zimmerman (R): Did not respond.

Doug La Follette (D), Incumbent: What can I say; dumb and dangerous idea from a group of right-wing folks.

Arvina Martin (D): I am against this as well. The loans provide accessible loans to municipalities and school districts to invest in their facilities, operations, and programs. With so many cuts to state funds that used to go to local units of government, these loans help continue improvements, and investments in their futures. If we can help fund our schools by offering reasonable loans to other Wisconsin units of government, we should most definitely do so.

5. How will you ensure that the Common School Fund and other BCPL trust funds are receiving all required deposits from fines, fees and forfeitures and other constitutionally required funding streams?


Jay Schroeder (R): Did not respond.

Spencer Zimmerman (R): Did not respond.

Doug La Follette (D), Incumbent: This has been an ongoing issue; I and the staff have been working to get Revenue and DOA to send these funds to the Board.  I would help if we, with your help, can get the Legislature to return this responsibly to the State Treasurer.

Arvina Martin (D): I will make sure that I am a responsive and attentive member of the Board of Commissioners, and am actively involved with staff responsible for collecting such fees. I will coordinate with other offices, including a rejuvenated State Treasurer, and members of the legislature. You can count on me to be a strong, visible, champion for democracy and public education.

6. What issues or policies will you prioritize if elected? 


Jay Schroeder (R): Did not respond.

Spencer Zimmerman (R): Did not respond.

Doug La Follette (D), Incumbent: Returning duties to the office and as a Land Commissioner working to protect the Trust Funds and earn interest for the schools.

Arvina Martin (D): My biggest priority as Secretary of State will be to fight for fair, open, and free elections. Most other states’ Secretaries of State are responsible for the administration of statewide elections. I would fight to return these duties back to our Secretary of State’s office, and while those duties remain in the executive branch, I would be a vocal advocate for civic participation, by making sure that voters are empowered with the proper information needed to cast their ballots. I will work to register voters and advocate for reforms like automatic voter registration. I will work with young people to promote civic participation. I will use my bully pulpit to advocate for participation in the Census and for Fair Maps. I would also work with municipal clerks and election staff to help ensure that our voting process is accessible and run smoothly. I believe that in a rapidly changing world, where we are worried about protecting civil rights, public education and the right to organize, our elections are the cornerstone of our ability to make change. Wisconsin used to have a proud tradition of voter participation, and I would love to return that legacy to our state.

The unfortunate reality is that over 40 years, leaders of both parties have lost faith in the incumbent, and essentially all of his responsibilities have been stripped from the office. It’s time for a reset in which we restore the Secretary of State’s office under new leadership.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

State Treasurer Candidates Respond to WEMTA Candidate Questions


The Offices of Attorney General, Secretary of State and State Treasurer are extremely important to the WEMTA because they serve on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL).

One of the funds overseen by BCPL Commissioners is the Common School Fund (CSF).  As you know, the CSF is the only dedicated source of state funding for K-12 school libraries in Wisconsin.

WEMTA surveyed every candidate for Attorney General, Secretary of State and State Treasurer ahead of the August 14 primary about their positions on key BCPL and Common School Fund issues. We are thrilled to announce that we had an overall response rate of 77% and heard back from EVERY candidate for the open State Treasurer seat.  

Their responses have been compiled into this non-partisan WEMTA voter guide

We will also be featuring their responses on the WEMTA blog! Today's post is dedicated to the State Treasurer race, which is the only BCPL-related race without an incumbent since current State Treasurer Matt Adamcyzk is running for State Assembly. 

Answers are listed in the order in which and candidates' names appear on the ballot. 


State Treasurer Candidate Responses


Republican and Democratic primaries are required in this race. WEMTA asked every State Treasurer candidate the following questions. Their responses are compiled below and appear in the order in which their names are listed on the ballot. There is no incumbent in this race.

1. What is your position on restoring the state treasurer’s duties?


Travis Hartwig (R): The State Treasurer used to provide quality services for the taxpayer, but it doesn’t right now. There are some responsibilities that we should bring back to the office but it doesn’t make sense to return all of the duties. I have been meeting with members of the legislature to find areas of state government that we can save money by transferring the duties over to the State Treasurer’s office. One example is the task of resolving unclaimed property, by returning this one task back to the treasurer’s office, we can save tens of thousands of dollars.

Jill Millies (R): I am a conservative Republican with common sense, who wants to bring back the auditing function to the office. Helping to restore accountability in government.

I pledge to work with Madison lawmakers to help them fix the broken office of State Treasurer.  The office has slowly been dismantled over the past 20 years, but voters rejected its elimination this spring. Now it will take some time to make the office functional again.

Dawn Marie Sass (D): My position is that all of the duties of the State Treasurer should be restored as soon as possible.  I was the State Treasurer from January 3, 2007 until January 11, 2011.  When I ran for re-election in 2010, I vigorously campaigned to keep the State Treasurer.  I was not endorsed by any union, newspaper or TV station because every person thought the State Treasurer should be eliminated, even my opponent who was elected because his platform was elimination of the office.  I will fight from the first day in office to get all of the duties restored – cash management, unclaimed property, L.G.I.P., EdVest and all of the other duties that have been illegally transferred to other government agencies.  I will work with the legislators on both sides of the aisle to get legislation drafted to get those duties restored.  I have already spoken with Sen. Kathleen Vinehout about this legislation (she had already introduced legislation in 2017 to get the duties restored).  I will also contact Rep. Schraa, who was instrumental in getting the referendum on the ballot for the elimination of the Treasurer, and have a conversation with him to keep his word and restore the duties.

Cynthia Kaump (D): I strongly believe in restoring and expanding the duties of the Wisconsin State Treasurer. As the former Director of Communications and Community Outreach for the Office of State Treasurer from 2012-2015, I directly administered, often at record performance levels, many of the programs that have been removed or transferred from the Office. It is also my view that the Unclaimed Property Program was unconstitutionally transferred to the Department of Revenue and all means, including litigation, should be used to return the management of that fund to the Office of State Treasurer. This would allow the State Treasurer to use the revenue and interest generated by Unclaimed Property to fund a variety of new programs I would implement as State Treasurer, including programs to provide money to victims of crime and to promote the teaching of financial literacy to Wisconsin’s children.

Sarah Godlewski (D): We absolutely need to fight to get all responsibilities that were taken from the Office of the State Treasurer. The founding fathers of Wisconsin created this separate constitutional office for a reason, and we need to do everything we can to bring it back to its original intent as the State’s Chief Banker. Further, I believe the removal of certain responsibilities such as unclaimed property could be challenged on legal standing and brought back to the Treasurer’s Office without legislative approval. There are constitutional and statutory responsibilities that still lie with the office, and the State Treasurer could be doing so much more for all Wisconsinites immediately under its current authority. The potential of this office has gone untapped for decades. We need someone with the financial expertise, investment background, and innovative thinking to ensure this office is being used to its fullest potential to best serve Wisconsinites.

Andrew Zuelke (Constitution Party): I was on the ballot for State Treasurer in 2014. My platform was to preserve the office of Treasurer, restore its duties (the Unclaimed Property Program, the Local Government Investment Pool, the EdVest Program, etc.). I believed then as I do now that it is wrong to replace a constitutionally elected officer with an appointed bureaucrat who doesn’t answer to the voters. We need elected accountability and I oppose consolidating powers. When the voters said “No!” on the referendum to eliminate the office, I decided then and there that I needed to run for Treasurer again seeing that voters realized as I did that it’s wrong to strip an elected statewide office of its duties, then claim it’s a “do nothing” office.

2. What do you believe the role of the state treasurer is in relation to public education in Wisconsin?

Travis Hartwig (R): As someone that has benefited from a public high school education, I understand its importance. Furthermore, our public schools and universities have been one of the main reasons for our state’s strong middle class and economic success. Every elected official should prioritize education, especially the State Treasurer. Its role on the BCPL means that it will impact schools, libraries, and communities throughout the state. As your State Treasurer, I will focus on continuing the BCPL’s positive impact, remaining fiscally sustainable, and assisting our centers of learning.

Jill Millies (R): I believe the state treasurer should be an advocate for public education by helping to provide the best return possible with the BCPL funds.

Dawn Marie Sass (D): I believe the State Treasurer should promote public education.  The State Treasurer is the guardian of the Common School Fund that is one of the trust funds with the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands.  I traveled the state during my term to help raise awareness of EdVest, the college savings program in Wisconsin.  I started contests for school children – coloring, essay and video – which resulted in 75 students having EdVest accounts.  Education has always been important to me and I will ensure that our public schools get the money they need to provide for our children.

Cynthia Kaump (D): I am a public school graduate, my daughter is in Madison Public Schools, my father was a guidance counselor at my public high school, and my mother was a UW-Madison professor. Public schools exist for the greater good of us all. As State Treasurer I would use my financial and investment experience to ensure investments made through BCPL direct as much money as possible to the Common School Fund while avoiding acquiring risk that would put our school funding in jeopardy. I would use the revenue and interest generated by Unclaimed Property, once returned to the Treasurer’s Office, to direct further monies into the Common School Fund. I will always fiercely advocate against any proposal to undermine our public schools and fiscal support to them.

Sarah Godlewski (D): I am a product of Eau Claire public schools where my parents also taught. These experiences have made me a strong advocate for public schools, and I believe there are a few key ways the State Treasurer can help with public education.

Common School Fund: While the State Treasurer’s office does not participate in the state budget process, it is the financial trustee to four trust funds most notably the Common School Fund. Last year the Common School Fund provided $35 million to all public schools in Wisconsin. This 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. Wisconsin’s State Treasurer, as the financial trustee, has the authority to determine the trust funds investment portfolio and asset allocation - helping to manage combined assets over $1.1 billion. It is paramount that the Treasurer ensures optimal financial returns, so the funds can continue to grow and provide the necessary financial assistances to our public schools and libraries.

State Trust Fund Loan Program. The Common School Fund provides the capital for the State Trust Fund Loan program. This program provides low interest, no fee loans to school districts across the state. The State Treasurer should be a leader with management and oversight of this program to ensure it servers as a financing option for school districts. Further, this program has come under attack by the Legislature. The State Treasurer needs to be advocating for this program - whenever necessary - and building awareness with the public on the benefits this program brings to local communities in all 72 counties.

Transparency and Accountability: The State Treasurer should provide greater transparency and accountability of school finance. For the 2017-18 School Year, private schools will receive voucher payments of $7,530 for each K-8 student and $8,176 for each 9-12 student. The total cost of vouchers in Wisconsin is estimated at $269.7 million for the 2017-18 school year — an increase of about $25.5 million from the previous year of 2016-17. Property tax increases are reported as part of public school funding when, in fact, that increase in revenue is being funneled to private schools. The public needs to know that tax dollars designated for public education are not going to ONLY public schools. Without transparency, there can be no accountability for how our property tax dollars are being spent. As Treasurer, I would create a Taxpayer’s Annual Report that would provide transparency to taxpayers on the public funding of private and religious schools. It is important taxes fund public schools!

Andrew Zuelke (Constitution Party): If elected I will use this office as a bully pulpit to keep people informed about what is going on with the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands and will make sure that Board stays true to its founding purpose – as a stable and consistent revenue source for public schools, public libraries, technical colleges and municipalities through loans. I do not believe funds from this board should go towards private businesses.

3. Legislation introduced during the 2017-18 legislative session would have eliminated the requirement that Common School Fund distributions be given to school libraries. What is your position on this proposal?


Travis Hartwig (R): I oppose this legislation. As someone that has a background in mutual fund investments, I understand the importance of returns. However, the purpose of this program is to benefit communities and centers of education throughout the state. This feature of the program is critical to many libraries and has a great impact.

Jill Millies (R): I believe the Common School Fund distributions should continue to go to schools. However, school boards should be allowed to apply for permission to allocate some of the funds to other specific school needs from time to time, such as school safety improvements. The local school boards have direct oversight and are in the best place to see what needs can best be filled with these funds.

Dawn Marie Sass (D): I am and always will be against any effort to eliminate the distributions from the Common School Fund.  This money is used to support the school libraries throughout Wisconsin to ensure that books, computers, software, periodicals, etc. can be purchased and kept current so our children have the resources they need to compete in the 21st century.  The referendum to eliminate the State Treasurer was just another way that the legislature was trying to get their hands on money that is earmarked for other purposes.  I will continue to advocate for the trust funds managed by the BCPL to ensure that our public schools get the money for the resources that they need.

Cynthia Kaump (D): I am strongly opposed to this proposal. Public school libraries, from 4K to the Universities, are a crucial part of our public school system and provide resources our children need to learn. Funding to those libraries must be guaranteed structurally. We cannot allow our school libraries to be put at risk by the whim of a single administration or elected official.

Sarah Godlewski (D): I strongly disagree with any proposal that would negatively impact our public schools or school libraries. It’s crucial that we not only continue all sources of funding, but increase our support for public school libraries. With a smart, conservative investment strategy, we can grow the Common School Fund and allow for even greater distributions to supply our school libraries across the state. As mentioned earlier, I would be a strong advocate and fight to ensure this does not happen under my watch.

Andrew Zuelke (Constitution Party): I have reviewed the legislation in question and I do not support it. As the Common School Fund is for public uses, specifically the public libraries, it should remain for that purpose. I support the BCPL continuing to manage and invest trust fund dollars and not have it turned over to the State of Wisconsin Investment Board. We should follow the state constitution and if elected, I will.

4. Legislation introduced during the 2017-18 legislative session would have ended the BCPL Trust Fund Loan Program. What is your position on this proposal?


Travis Hartwig (R): I oppose this legislation. It has been an effective program and provided a great return. I will look for ways to make every aspect of government more effective and save money but eliminating this program entirely would not accomplish either of these goals.

Jill Millies (R): I believe the BCPL should be striving to get the best possible returns for the trust funds. If making loans at competitive rates to bank rate loans or other public funding sources accomplishes this goal, then the BCPL Trust Fund Loan Program should continue.

Dawn Marie Sass (D): This legislation was purely a power grab for the legislature to take money that has been earmarked for other purposes.  I will fight with everything I have in me to make sure legislation like this is never passed.  The BCPL Trust Fund Loan Program benefits not only public school libraries but also communities that apply for low interest loans through the program.  I have seen first hand the good that has come from the BCPL Trust Fund Loan Program during my term in office.  In my visits to schools throughout the state, many librarians have thanked me for the program as well as teachers and students I had said during my re-election campaign “Why would you not want to support school libraries?  Are you against the education of our children?”  I said it was a bad idea to end the program in 2010 and I still believe it is a bad idea to end it now.

Cynthia Kaump (D): My position is simple. That is a terrible proposal and further undermines our public schools by potentially stripping away $36 million of annual support to our public school libraries. This loan program generates revenue that constitutionally is required to transfer to four funds supporting our public school system from grades 4K through the Universities. It is necessary. Our forefathers carefully and intricately laid out the paths for this funding and its sources to support our public schools. Further, if managed properly and returned to the Office of the State Treasurer, Unclaimed Property can generate even more revenue to transfer to that loan program benefitting our public schools.

Sarah Godlewski (D): I disagree with this proposal. The BCPL is one of the largest public investors in economic development in our state and it would be unacceptable to lose that source of capital for our municipalities and school districts. We should be investing in our state and our people even more, not less. Further, I believe it is important the Treasurer helps educate not only the Legislature but the public on the importance of this program. It effects all Wisconsinites.

Andrew Zuelke (Constitution Party): I am opposed to that. I support keeping the BCPL Trust Fund Loan Program as it is, especially as being one of three members of the board is presently the only remaining duty the State Treasurer has. We want to strengthen and expand the office of State Treasurer, not weaken it further. That is the mandate from the voters and what I campaigned on in 2014.

5. How will you ensure that the Common School Fund and other BCPL trust funds are receiving all required deposits from fines, fees and forfeitures and other constitutionally required funding streams?


Travis Hartwig (R): We need a State Treasurer that has a proficient understanding of finance, auditing, government budgets, and accounting. I am the only candidate with that experience. I majored in finance and business economics with a minor in accounting at Carroll University and worked as a Mutual Fund Administrator with U.S. Bank Fund Services. I can protect the program because I know how to analyze detailed financial reports and what questions to ask.

Jill Millies (R): I want to bring back the auditing function to the Treasurer's office. Only through doing audits will this ensure that all required deposits and other required funding streams make it to the BCPL trust funds, helping to restore accountability in government.

Dawn Marie Sass (D): I will have meetings with the staff of BCPL to look over the financials.   I will challenge any legislation brought forth to end or re-calculate the amount of money that the BCPL Trust Fund oversees or any proposed changes to the transfer of those funds from their proper uses.  I will continue to advocate for the Office of State Treasurer so that Wisconsin will always have a fiscal watchdog for the BCPL Trust Funds.

Cynthia Kaump (D): The Department of Revenue is not currently fully cooperating per the "Memorandum of Understanding" with the Office of the State Treasurer and BCPL on transferring Unclaimed Property revenue to the BCPL. This is unacceptable to me. There should be a quarterly schedule for this to occur and assure more funds are available for investments and loans to benefit those four school funds. It is an obligation of the State Treasurer to assure a steady stream of revenue to support this fund. I am proposing creating a "Waste, Fraud and Abuse" program within the office that would have both audit and enforcement power. This would assure BCPL receives all required deposits. I would eagerly seek bi-partisan support to increase and impose stronger enforcement capabilities, fortifying the auditing authority that already exists within the State Treasurer's statutory duties.

Sarah Godlewski (D): We know the amount of money coming from fines, fees, and forfeitures to the Common School Fund is decreasing. We need to review the process, policies, and procedures associated with why this is happening and address it accordingly. Be it the state and/or municipalities, we need to address any loopholes and ensure the money is going to CSF. Further, we need to audit these accounts to understand the full financial picture. I’m the best person to oversee this review and ensure all money owed to the Common School Fund is rightly received. I have extensive financial experience and am certified in public treasury management. I have the background and experience as a social impact investor to ensure that these funds are being funded appropriately. Further, I led enterprise level process improvement efforts for the Under Secretary of Defense - where we identified fraud, waste, and abuse - saving taxpayers millions of dollars. I believe that the Constitutional responsibility of this office is to be serve as the state’s chief banker and investor and as such the long-term maintenance and growth of these funds is a critical responsibility.

Andrew Zuelke (Constitution Party): The fact that the voters sent a clear mandate to keep this office will help a lot.  First, it puts the office of State Treasurer under a microscope; voters will be paying attention to it now to make sure that anything connected to Treasurer is not eroded further. Second, there are many in the legislature who voted against the referendum to eliminate this office. I will work with them to insure fines, fees and other constitutionally required funding streams continue coming in. It won’t sit well with voters for legislators who wanted to eliminate this office for them to stir up problems in the BCPL which has been with the state since its founding.

6. What issues or policies will you prioritize if elected? 


Travis Hartwig (R): As your next State Treasurer, I have three priorities: 1. We should have an elected official assist in audits of state government. The taxpayers need a watchdog and I have the background and skills to make our state government more effective and efficient. 2. I will partner with the legislature to find ways that we can save taxpayers money and increase integrity in government by transferring duties from unelected bureaucrats to the State Treasurer’s office. 3. Protect the taxpayer. Instead of collecting a paycheck without providing quality services, I will earn my salary. Over the last two decades, responsibilities have been transferred to different departments. This hasn’t always been positive. I will develop an office that protects and services schools, communities, and the taxpayer.

Jill Millies (R): OpenBook.wi.gov is a wonderful site into state expenditures. It should be expanded to include municipalities and schools. The more open we are with all tax dollars expenditures the better.

Dawn Marie Sass (D): If elected, I will first work on a budget to submit to the legislature so that on July 1, 2019, the Office of State Treasurer can become a working office again.  The next important step is to get together with legislators to draft legislation giving back the duties to the State Treasurer’s Office.  Once the office is back, I will continue working on several things that I started in my previous term.  I will re-instate the contests for school children, I will continue to travel to all 72 counties every year to promote unclaimed property and the value of the office and I will begin researching the idea of Wisconsin creating it’s own state bank.  Wisconsin could save millions of dollars on fees and interest, refinance high student loans, and invest in the state with a State Bank.  A state bank has been very successful in North Dakota where it will be celebrating 100 years in operation next year.

Cynthia Kaump (D): Mostly simply put I intend to use my experience, relationships, and passion to restore and expand the powers of the Office of State Treasurer. I will fight to restore programs that were unconstitutionally transferred away from the office, such as Unclaimed Property. I will fight to protect our public lands, fight to defend public pensions, and safeguard the funding for our public schools. I will create new programs to distribute money to victims of crime, eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse, and create greater financial literacy for our children. I take the role of being Wisconsin’s financial guardian seriously and will administer this office to its highest potential, advocate to expand it, and communicate its importance to the people of Wisconsin.

Sarah Godlewski (D): Fiscal Transparency and Accountability- The State Treasurer has the ability to review and examine financial transactions that involve our tax dollars. I believe the state’s chief banker should always be working on behalf of the taxpayers to review and report on the state’s spending. I would create a taxpayer’s annual report so Wisconsinites could see where their money is being spent. Transparency and accountability is desperately needed in our state.

Invest in Wisconsin’s Future- This office is the financial trustee to four trust funds worth over 1.1 billion and provides millions to public schools and school libraries. With independent investment authority, we need to make sure these funds are performing optimally; providing the best return so we can invest in public education. That said, as a socially responsible investor, I know we can invest in ways that also align with our values. For example, we could invest part of the fixed income portfolio to refinance student loan debt in our state. Student loans can be paying an interest rate of up to 14.75%. We can buy this debt and refinance it at a lower rate but higher than the 3-4% return we are currently making on this portfolio. This would diversify the portfolio while also increasing current rate of return. Financially, this could be a win-win. Improving financial returns while also helping Wisconsinites get a head. From my perspective as a impact investor, we need to be creative with our financial power and think about ways to help ALL Wisconsinites. Other states around the country having been successfully leading the charge while we are falling behind and this needs to change. In addition, Wisconsinites struggle to make the transition from high school to any post-high school education. I would start an educational savings program for Wisconsin’s children. When a child enters kindergarten, the state would open a educational savings account and the state would put forth $50 to start the account. This initial investment has proven to make a difference. It increases the probability of a student to seek additional education after college (e.g. trade school, college) and also provides an opportunity to increase financial literacy. Similar programs are being done in Maine and Rhode Island and they have seen significant results.

Economic Empowerment- As the chief banker, the Treasurer has the opportunity to advocate for the economic empowerment of all Wisconsinites. The Treasurer’s office should be the leading voice to address the wage gap. Wisconsin ranks among the worst states in the nation for wage equality. Our state's economy is missing out on $14 billion annually because women are taking home less money than their male peers. This office should also be a customer advocate – taking action against large banks with egregious acts against its customers. Further, I believe it’s important that the State Treasurer work to increase financial literacy and awareness across the state.

Andrew Zuelke (Constitution Party): 1.I want to petition to have the Budget Stabilization Fund (Rainy-Day Fund) placed under the stewardship of State Treasurer who must answer to voters every four years. I don’t want this duty under the authority of the Secretary of Administration, an unelected bureaucrat. Having the Rainy-Day fund transferred over to State Treasurer will be a challenge.I also believe that the State of Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (wdfi.org) should be under the authority of State Treasurer, not an executive cabinet-level appointee like it is now. Adding other new duties to the office will be easier as they are smaller programs. For example, I want the Wisconsin-saves state initiative (Wisconsin-saves.org) under the authority of Treasurer.

2.  Working with legislators who want to preserve this office to have duties restored (see my answers to Number 1 above).

3.  I want to expose and speak out against corporate welfare and crony capitalism. Public monies (taxes and fees) should be for public purposes and private enterprises should rely on private investors and securing loans thought private financial institutions.

4.  I believe the tax code of our state is way to complicated and I believe the legislature should re-write the entire tax code; just start from scratch. We should fund only those items which are authorized in the state constitution. I will work on drafting a new tax code to present to voters/taxpayers across Wisconsin, propose it to the legislature and testify on it before committees, again using the office as a bully pulpit to bring about change and reform.