Lawmakers consider eliminating state treasurer office

Gov. Walker says he supports if voters approve
Lawmakers consider eliminating state treasurer office

Gov. Scott Walker said Wednesday he supports eliminating Wisconsin’s all-but powerless state treasurer’s office if voters approve.

Republicans, who control the Legislature, have slowly eliminated the treasurer’s duties over the years, shifting them to other agencies. The position’s only remaining responsibility is serving on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands.

Eliminating the office would take an amendment to the state constitution. Amendments must pass two consecutive legislative sessions and a statewide referendum to become part of the document.

The Legislature passed an elimination amendment last session and will need to do it again this session before it can go to the voters.

The Assembly Committee on State Affairs held a hearing Wednesday on the bill.

“I think people look at the state government and say there is a lot of waste, fraud and abuse and I think this is one area that is a relic of the past,” Rep. Michael Schraa, R-Oshkosh, said.

But Tia Nelson, who previously served as secretary of the BCPL, argued that the treasurer is not paid with general taxpayer funds and wouldn’t save “taxpayer money” as lawmakers say.

“I know the founding fathers thought carefully about this construction and I think they got it right. That’s why I’m here,” Nelson told lawmakers at the hearing. “I’m simply here to say it’s worked really well for 150 years and if you’re going to mess with it don’t mess with it under false pretenses.”

Walker told reporters Wednesday that if voters approve, eliminating the office “totally makes sense” since it has no responsibilities.