Wisconsinites voted overwhelmingly last spring against an amendment that would have eliminated the state treasurer from our constitution. Now, we have the opportunity and responsibility to ensure this office works for all Wisconsinites. That’s why I’m running.
Last year, I found out about Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to abolish the office and was appalled. It was an attempted power grab by the governor and the Republican Legislature to remove a critical check and balance captured in the Wisconsin Constitution.
I quickly got involved becoming a leader of the Save Our Fiscal Watchdog ballot committee, where I worked to inform Wisconsinites on the potential of the state treasurer. Through my work, it became clear this office has been severely neglected by both parties for over a decade. We need to bring new energy and new ideas to the treasurer’s office.
The treasurer serves as Wisconsin’s chief banker. I’m running for treasurer because I want to restore this office, and I have a bold vision to be your fiscal watchdog, invest in Wisconsin’s future, and serve as your financial advocate.
As your fiscal watchdog, I will ensure transparency for all Wisconsinites and accountability by all elected and appointed officials. The treasurer should review all transactions involving your tax dollars and provide taxpayers with an annual report.
The governor and Legislature, who run the state budget process, should not be allowed to collect, deposit, spend, and account for the money. This situation increases the risk of misallocation and fraud.
I know firsthand how important it is to review financial transactions. During my time with the Department of Defense, I did just that, saving taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. Then I was director of one of the fastest-growing counties in the country, where we implemented a performance-based budgeting process.
Using the office’s independent investment authority, we can leverage the $1.2 billion in our state’s trust funds to invest in Wisconsin’s future. We need to manage these funds prudently while ensuring the best returns for public education.
As a socially responsible investor, I know we can invest these funds to achieve a positive impact without sacrificing sound investment principles or financial sustainability. For example, we could use part of the portfolio to help refinance student loan debt – a $24 billion problem in Wisconsin, with some people paying close to 15 percent interest rates.
I would refinance student loan debt at a lower rate, saving Wisconsinites millions while also improving the state’s portfolio return. This is the type of win-win strategy that I want to pursue as your treasurer.
As the chief banker, the treasurer should be the state’s economic advocate, protecting vulnerable communities and holding big corporations accountable. The treasurer can lead the way by working to end financial exploitation of seniors, addressing predatory lending, and narrowing the gender and minority wage gap.
Furthermore, as treasurer I’ll take firm action against large banks and companies that are abusing their customers, ensuring that no corporation is above the law.
I have spent my entire career in business and finance, and I know we can make this office work effectively for all Wisconsinites. I’m proud to have the support of elected leaders like tormer Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton and Rep. Dana Wachs, labor groups like AFSCME Council 32 and IBEW Local 494, and organizations like Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, the Wisconsin Working Families Party, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, and the Women’s March of Wisconsin.
I hope to earn your vote as the Democratic nominee for treasurer on Aug. 14. I promise to be your advocate.
Sarah Godlewski is a Democratic candidate for Wisconsin state treasurer.