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‘Why would we keep it?’ Gov. Walker says voters should eliminate state treasurer’s office Tuesday

MADISON -- On Tuesday, April 3, Wisconsin voters will decide whether to do away with the state treasurer's office in a referendum that has received little attention until the past week.

Lawmakers have already voted twice to eliminate the 170-year-old office, meaning whatever voters decide on Tuesday will be final. The current treasurer says his job is a waste of money and has an ally in Gov. Scott Walker, but Democrats and a former treasurer says voters should maintain the office.

Both Republicans and Democrats have targeted the treasurer's office over the years. Six times since the mid-1990s, lawmakers have cut the office's power, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau.

The current treasurer, Republican Matt Adamczyk, campaigned to get rid of his office, where he is the only employee.

Matt Adamczyk

"The Legislature is not going to give this office any more duties, so if they're not going to give it more duties, I guess I'd ask the question, why would we keep it?" Adamczyk said in a telephone interview.

Adamczyk said a treasurer could spend an hour or two a week at work and still make a $70,000 taxpayer-funded salary. He is not running for re-election and is instead campaigning for a seat in the state Assembly.

Governor Scott Walker

Walker agrees the job should go.

"Republicans and Democrats have said for years it was an obsolete position. I'm gonna vote yes on eliminating it," Walker said.

But Democrats and a former Republican treasurer, Jack Voight, are campaigning to save the office. Voight's group spent $80,000 on TV ads, including in Milwaukee. He said the treasurer's old powers should be restored.

"No governor, not politician, or any political party should be above our state constitution. Our founding fathers, if this passes, I think they'd be rolling in their graves," said Voight.

Jack Voight

If it passes, the lieutenant governor would take the treasurer's position on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, which awards state loans to public agencies like school districts for building improvements.

Five other states, including Minnesota, have gotten rid of their treasurer's offices.