Platform

Preamble

First and foremost, I believe that the Treasurer's Office, as any public office, needs to be efficient, accountable and responsive.  It needs to be well-managed.  I promise I will honor the civil service system and ensure that employees of the Treasurer's Office are free from patronage and have a single focus:  public service. 

Advocate for the Public on Budget and Financial Issues

Periodically, a legislator introduces a bill to abolish the Office of the Treasurer, ostensibly as a cost-saving measure because the Treasurer is merely a Constitutional relic.

However, such proposals are misguided.  First, there would be no cost-savings as the functions of the Office would simply be reallocated to other units of government.  Second, and, most important, calls for abolition of the Treasurer would result not in a reduction of government, but in a reduction of the people's representation, or voice, in government--exactly the opposite of what is intended. 
 
Further, the framers of the Wisconsin Constitution wisely determined that the process for amending the Constitution is cumbersome and deliberate, requiring approval first by two consecutive sessions of the Legislature followed by approval of a statewide referendum.  In short, the Office of State Treasurer will be on the ballot in 2014. 

I believe the purpose of a Constitutional Treasurer is to serve as an independent voice on matters of State financial importance, and, I believe it matters who our State Treasurer is, just as I believe it matters who all of our public officials and public servants are.   

As your State Treasurer, I'll use my nearly three decades of experience in State and Municipal budgeting and investments to serve as an additional resource for the public on State budget matters.  You can be certain that I will provide an active and independent voice to help ensure that government works effectively for people.
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Unclaimed Property
 


Until recently, a key function of the Treasurer's Office was the administration of the State Unclaimed Property program, which now has grown to hundreds of millions of dollars.  The program seeks to return to citizens monies that the Treasurer collects from old bank accounts, utility deposits, and a variety of other sources, including unclaimed safety deposit boxes.  A citizen or his/her heirs may claim the property at any time; there is no time limit.
Recent years have seen record returns of monies to citizens due in large measure to technological advancements, such as use of the Web, which result in both more efficient collections, and identification of owners and and return of the assets.

In its zeal to further diminish the Office of the State Treasurer and consolidate more authority in an Executive that is already the most powerful among the states, the Legislature removed administration of the Unclaimed Property program from the Treasurer.  But because interest earned on the Unclaimed Property program supports all program costs, including the salary and benefit expense of the Treasurer, the change has actually resulted in additional expense and inefficiencies.
 
Certainly, the program could be improved and more efficient.  For example, although a prospective claimant may become aware that the Treasurer is holding proceeds, the claimant cannot know the amount without a formal request process.  The result is approximately 50,000 applications mailed but not returned annually, likely because the dollar amounts are small and the claimants choose not to pursue a claim. One result is additional administrative and postage costs.  Another is that many prospective claimants may never again pursue a claim, yet they remain on the list into perpetuity.  A simple solution might be to allow a claimant to determine the potential claim amount prior to initiating the paperwork.

Additionally, previous Treasurers have felt it important to call the public's attention to the Unclaimed Property program, sometimes by literally driving around the State to publicize the program.  This might be useful, but I think  it will be more useful to raise the profile of the program by raising the profile of the Office generally through advocacy of a variety of State budget and financial matters. 




Local Government Investment Pool

The State Treasurer administers the Local Government Investment Pool (LGIP), which collects each day's unused cash from local units of government and combines the collections with State agency proceeds, thus allowing for both liquidity and higer yields.  The funds are invested by the State of Wisconsin Investment Board.  As State Treasurer, I would resist calls to direct investment toward local venture capital or other, risky investments. 

(Update:  Under Wisconsin Act 32, administration of the LGIP was transferred from the State Treasurer to the Department of Administration under the auspices of the Governor.)
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