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VOTE411 Voter Guide

Wisconsin Constitutional Amendment - Elimination of state treasurer

What it will say on the ballotAt the April 3 Spring Election, all Wisconsin voters will be asked to vote on the question:Elimination of state treasurer. Shall sections 1 and 3 of article VI and sections 7 and 8 of article X of the constitution be amended, and section 17 of article XIV of the constitution be created, to eliminate the office of state treasurer from the constitution and to replace the state treasurer with lieutenant governor as a member of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands?Some historyThe Wisconsin Constitution contains the following language: "The qualified electors of this state...shall...every 4 years...elect a secretary of state, treasurer and attorney general who shall hold their offices for 4 years. The powers, duties and compensation of the treasurer and attorney general shall be prescribed by law." The state treasurer is a partisan office.Since 1848, the treasurer had custody of state funds, including state investments; handled receipts and payments of the State Fair; notified utility companies to pay taxes to the treasurer's office; settled with each county treasurer for the state's share of taxes; and made financial reports to the governor. The treasurer's responsibility to inspect and examine financial transactions by government officials provided healthy checks and balances on the administrative and legislative branches.Per the constitution, the treasurer serves along with the attorney general and secretary of state on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL). The BCPL manages the state's remaining trust lands (more than 77,000 acres of forest), manages trust funds (more than $1 billion) primarily for the benefit of public school libraries (these monies are the sole source of state funding for public school libraries), and maintains the state's archive of 19th-century land survey and land sales records.Successive legislatures have assigned the duties of the treasurer to state agencies, primarily the Departments of Administration and Revenue, whose secretaries are appointed by the Governor. The current duties prescribed by WI law are more limited and include signing certain check and financial instruments and helping publicize the state's unclaimed property program (the program is managed and advertised by the Department of Revenue).Currently the state treasurer is the sole employee of the treasurer's office. The total budget is approximately $113,500 per year of which $70,000 is the treasurer's salary.What this referendum vote would doThis amendment would complete the transfer of financial duties from an independent elected official to agencies under the control of the governor. Supporters of the amendment contend that there are no remaining responsibilities that justify a separate office. Opponents are concerned about the consolidation of power in the executive branch.Two successive legislatures voted to put this question to voters (as required by the Wisconsin Constitution). The decision made by voters on April 3rd is binding.What a Yes or No vote meansA "Yes" vote means the voter agrees that the constitutional position of state treasurer should be abolished and the Lt. Governor should become the third commissioner of the BCPL.A "No" vote means the voter wants to retain the constitutional position of state treasurer and retain the state treasurer as a member of the BCPL.
  • Yes - For the Measure

  • No - Against the Measure

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