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Wisconsin’s Treasurer-Elect Sarah Godlewski Identifies More Responsibilities For Office

Treasurer's Office Survived April 2018 Voter Referendum Aimed At Elimination

Secretary of State Sarah Godlewski
Wisconsin Secretary of State Sarah Godlewski. Photo courtesy of the Godlewski campaign

When Democrat Sarah Godlewski is inaugurated as the state’s new treasurer in 2019, she’ll be taking up the mantle of an executive office that was nearly eliminated.

Godlewski said that taking office is an exciting prospect.

“We are walking into an office that has such strong support from all Wisconsinites,” she said. “That was really my inspiration to run in the first place.”

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In April 2018, Wisconsin voters rejected a statewide referendum to eliminate the treasurer’s office, by a margin of 61 percent to 38 percent. Supporters of the proposal argued the treasurer has very few official responsibilities left, following years of shifting them to other offices.

Godlewski campaigned to keep the office and eventually, to do the job. The treasurer-elect said Wisconsin needs the office to serve as a fiscal watchdog.

“We would never get rid of those internal controls in business so why would we think that’s good government?” she said.

Matt Adamczyk, the state’s current treasurer, supported eliminating the office. He points to the office’s sole constitutional responsibility of serving on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands.

But Godlewski said she has unearthed more than a dozen other duties that haven’t been fulfilled in recent years. She won’t need to craft new responsibilities for the office, she said, because many already exist.

I am totally blown away by the opportunities that exist,” Godlewski said. “It’s really a big misnomer that people think this office can’t do anything for the people of Wisconsin.”

Those responsibilities include creating task forces on financial issues, signing state checks and helping to manage state investment funds, including the county mining investment fund and the public employee trust fund, she said.

However, if Godlewski plans to tackle those expanded responsibilities, she’ll need additional staff. The treasurer’s office currently has one employee.

Securing funding for additional employees would have to be done through the next biennial budget process, which kicks off in the early months of 2019.

Godlewski said she plans to work with state lawmakers to direct existing state funds toward expanding the office.

“My goal is to help people understand the breadth and depth of what this office can do for them today,” she said.

Godlewski will be sworn in, alongside Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers, Lt. Gov.-elect Mandela Barnes and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul, on Monday, Jan. 7, 2019.