Last month, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett released his 67-page plan to put state government on a “diet,” and at the time I noted that Democratic State Treasurer candidate Dan Bohrod, who has mounted a primary challenge to incumbent State Treasurer Dawn Marie Sass, was none too pleased with Barrett’s proposal to eliminate the State Treasurer position. In an editorial last week in the Capital Times, Bohrod shared two ideas on how state government spending can be cut without eliminating the State Treasurer’s office:
We need truly bold leadership, leaders who can offer new and imaginative ideas, leaders who don’t pander and offer gimmicks. We need a treasurer who will contribute to the public discourse and help ensure the public that their government is efficient, accountable, and responsive. To that end, I offer two modest proposals that will streamline the state work force, yield millions in tax savings and not affect state operations one whit:
1. Eliminate state agency executive assistants. These are gubernatorial appointees scattered throughout state government, usually offered as rewards to political operatives who have little government experience. This proposal alone would yield several million dollars in savings.
2. Eliminate the staff of the lieutenant governor. The lieutenant governor’s sole duty is to wait for the governor to become incapacitated. Yet the lieutenant governor has an office budget approaching $1 million, replete with a chief of staff, policy director and director of operations.
Both of these proposals would streamline government, save significant tax dollars, and can be implemented before the next governor sits down to his first gubernatorial breakfast.
After reading Bohrod’s editorial, I contacted him to get a little more clarification on what exactly he believes should be the role of the State Treasurer, and he noted he believes the State Treasurer “was created to contribute to the public discourse relative to the disposition of the people’s tax monies,” going on to add that the office should serve as an addition “check” in the checks and balances of our state government. Here’s the rest of Bohrod’s response:
That’s what I’ll do as Treasurer–talk about issues that have significant fiscal implications.
So, I’m going to talk about issues such as the inappropriateness and ineffectiveness of huge bonuses for the State pension fund managers. We could cut the bonuses, save millions in dollars, and the management of the fund will not be affected (despite protestations by “experts;”–there are simply no data that support a correlation between bonuses and performance, and, in fact, there are emerging empirical data that indicate the contrary). Public service should be about the service, not about self-fulfillment. Certainly, public servants should be fairly and appropriately compensated, but absolutely no public servant should be made wealthy.
I’m going to talk about the potential loss of hundreds of millions dollars by Milwaukee area school districts due to unwise investments in derivatives, and that we need to marshall State resources to help advise local officials on how to manage their investments.
I’m going to talk about how we can make State government more efficient by simply reducing the number of patronage appointments made by the Executive.
I’m going to talk about how while the leading gubernatorial candidates from both parties propose cutting the salaries and benefits of the public servants to help balance the budget, real cost savings will come from reducing services and programs, not the various gimmicks the candidates have offered.
In the course of this campaign, I’ve already raised more issues for consideration by the public than the incumbent has done during her entire term. But, when was the last time any Wisconsin State Treasurer actually did make a meaningful contribution to the public discourse?