Successive Wisconsin governors and legislators have taken powers away from the office of state treasurer, as part of a wrongheaded push to centralize authority in the governor’s office. But the treasurer retains sufficient authority to serve as a watchdog and an advocate. This year, with the position open, voters should be looking for the candidate who can best fill those roles.
They will find that candidate in Green Party nominee Ron Hardy. An elected Winnebago County supervisor and former chair of the city of Oshkosh Sustainability Advisory Board, he knows his way around budgeting and planning issues. A political activist with a commitment to independent and third-party politics, he has a proven track record of working with Democrats and Republicans. But he will not hesitate to hold governors and legislators of both major parties to account.
Hardy calls for restoring oversight authority to the treasurer’s office, saying, “We need an independent authority to keep an eye on state revenues, audit government spending and prevent fraud, waste, corruption and mismanagement.” He’s right about that.
He’s also right to propose initiatives to put Wisconsin assets to work for Wisconsinites. Like Madison attorney David Leeper, who was narrowly defeated in the Democratic primary for treasurer, Hardy is an advocate for developing a publicly owned state bank along the lines of the one that has operated in North Dakota for almost a century. “Wisconsin’s economic security is too important to leave in the hands of profit-driven private banks,” argues Hardy. “With a State Bank of Wisconsin, like the State Bank of North Dakota, Wisconsin cities and counties could bond for capital improvement projects with the state, and the interest from those loans can be reinvested in Wisconsin instead of becoming Wall Street profits.”
While his Democratic and Republican foes are credible, we endorse Ron Hardy because we are convinced that he would renew the office of state treasurer and open up needed debates about putting taxpayer money to work for the taxpayers.
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